Drive By History, Part 2: Camp Weld

It says thusly:

This memorial is the property of the State of Colorado

This is the Southwest corner of
Camp Weld
established September 1861 for
Colorado Civil War Volunteers,
Named for Lewis L. Weld, first
Secretary of Colorado territory.
Troops leaving here Feb. 22, 1862
Won victory over Confederate Forces
at La Glorieta, New Mexico. Saved
The Southwest for the Union
Headquarters against Indians 1864-65
camp abandoned 1865
_

erected by
The State Historical Society of Colorado
from
The Mrs. J.N. Hall Foundation
and by
The City and County of Denver
1934

B50 Note: This monument is located at the corner of 8th and Vallejo Streets in an industrial section of Denver criss-crossed by highways and overpasses. Check out the “Drive By History” series of unnoticed monuments in Denver.

On September 28th, 1864, the Camp Weld Council was held at this location. At this meeting, territorial governor John Evans met with Cheyenne and Arapaho Chiefs, including Black Kettle and White Antelope. The Arapaho and Cheyenne left the council believing that if they returned to Fort Lyon (in what is now Southeastern Colorado) they would be able to live in peace with the white settlers. Two months later (on November 29th, 1864), their camp at Sand Creek was attacked and many were massacred by Colorado Volunteers under the command of Colonel John Chivington.

A transcript of the meeting is available on Kevin Cahill’s very informative site, kclonewolf.com. This photograph was taken following the Camp Weld Council, and includes many of the participants (photo courtesy of the Colorado Historical Society).

Camp Weld Council, September 28th, 1864. Standing L-R: Unidentified, Dexter Colley (son of Agent Samuel Colley), John S. Smith, Heap of Buffalo, Bosse, Sheriff Amos Steck, Unidentified soldier. Seated L-R: White Antelope, Neva, Black Kettle, Bull Bear, Na-ta-Nee (Knock Knee). Kneeling L-R: Major Edward W. Wynkoop, Captain Silas Soule.
Camp Weld Council, September 28th, 1864. Standing L-R: Unidentified, Dexter Colley (son of Agent Samuel Colley), John S. Smith, Heap of Buffalo, Bosse, Sheriff Amos Steck, Unidentified soldier. Seated L-R: White Antelope, Neva, Black Kettle, Bull Bear, Na-ta-Nee (Knock Knee). Kneeling L-R: Major Edward W. Wynkoop, Captain Silas Soule.

Pope visits Harkness Heights – enterprising locals see opportunity

—by Rich Moore

Left to right Stephanie Haver (42nd & Julian), Brigid & Lucy Moore (42nd & Irving).
Left to right Stephanie Haver (42nd & Julian), Brigid & Lucy Moore (42nd & Irving)

This photo was taken outside of the Mt. St. Vincent home at 41st & Lowell, on the day the Pope came to visit in August of ’93. The girls were selling Kool-Aid, and a Secret Service agent came by and bought some. She was obviously Secret Service; who else wears long pants and a dark blazer when it’s 90+ outside? She was real sweet to the girls. Other agents were on the rooftop of the home.

I’m guessing there were over 1000 people gathered. We were on Lowell at 42nd, others were on the street along 41st. At one point, all the crowd along Lowell roared with delight as a man in white came out through a side door. Turns out the guy was a kitchen worker emptying a trash bin. He was pleased with the warm reception and waved back.

The Pope did come out the door at some point along 41st, but we never saw him.

B50 Note: Mount St. Vincent’s Children’s Home (originally the Saint Vincent’s Orphan Asylum) was established by Bishop J.P. Machebeuf and the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in 1882. Located at 4159 Lowell, it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1902. The historical photo was taken by L.C. McClure, circa 1905. Courtesy of the Denver Public Library Western History Collection, photoswest.org.

The Jonas Brothers (Real and Retro)

— by M Thornton

Buckfifty has become my biography, the story of Denver before I arrived, the story of Denver that I live, and the story that gives credence to the Denver of the future. Here’s one more tidbit, and I hope it connects me to you, to the place, to the community that is built on the stories, the gospel of its residents, because the stories are forever changing, thanks to the chroniclers and listeners.

The Jonas Brothers of Denver

Back in 1974, after a fleeting separation from a girlfriend in Chicago, the college girl I could have fun with, like hitchhiking downtown from college, before missing our post-college marriage, I moved back to Denver, and found a job near my apartment in Capitol Hill, at Jonas Brothers. I became a taxidermist apprentice, for six months, and told the students whom I teach now about that experience, and they all agreed that this was a story that would endure me to people everywhere — that’s probably because they have not dealt with wild animals in their lives, and neither had I. (I typically use this experience to shock high schoolers into imagining that at one time, in this far outpost of civilization, game trophies mattered.)

Jonas Brothers hired me because I responded to an ad in the paper, I passed a polygraph, and I was interested. The fur salon on the first floor of the building at 10th and Broadway featured a standing polar bear, one of the last to be legally hunted and stuffed. (This polar bear looked so much better than the shaggy ones I grew up seeing at the Denver Zoo.) It no longer could claw or kill, but the magnificence of this creature suggested a wild habitat, where people could nonetheless safely purchase real fur coats. This was my introduction to taxidermy.

Once I started working around these people who devoted their lives to capturing the animal instinct, the bizarre nature of this old world craft never bothered me. The professional taxidermists who worked on the upper floors sculpted trophies made to mimic the wild haunts of the animals whose hides arrived through the alley door. Crates were unloaded, with hides that needed stretching, and skulls that required stripping in cauldrons of chlorine.

I would unpack an elephant foot, and over days of spraying it with water and tamping sand into it with a compactor, the foot would eventually regain its posture. We would add a circular plywood form to the inside, and top off the foot with a padded seat. An elephant foot stool. We would place the skulls of antelopes into a gigantic vat of bleach, where the final remnants of life would be stripped away, issuing ivory skulls a month later, to which we added missing teeth before we mounted them on a wood plaque. I learned about mixing epoxy glue to cement the dentures in skulls. I searched for missing incisors from drawers of teeth, catalogued by animal. My days were interesting indeed.

The taxidermists that worked at Jonas Brothers were the best of a dying breed, as they worked to make animals look as wild as possible, in their natural habitats. But safaris were on their way out, as wild game faced extinction, and so these craftsmen toiled as artists, scarcely making a living wage, without doing side work.

Did you know that fish lose their color once out of water? Fish trophies are painted to enact the real catch. Once while I was there, a hippo or rhino — they are both big game — died in one of the American zoos, and these artisans joyfully welcomed a new cast of the animal, that would better reflect how the beast would stand in nature. They would clothe it in hides from the next big game hunter. The taxidermists that I knew only watched PBS programming, Wild Kingdom at that time, constantly studying animals in their habitats, to better capture the life-like motions for their real-life resurrections.

One time I brought my older sister through the gallery of animals to be shipped out. I thought that she would enjoy petting a tiger, but I’m not sure that she thought that I was anything but weird. I broke my ankle wrestling with a friend after a night of drinking, and another worker at Jonas fixed me up with a deer hide cover for my cast, that lasted the length of my working there. I didn’t see my future there, but those taxidermists impressed me no end for their love of animals, and their devotion to capturing beasts at their best.

I finally got a job on the Colorado and Southern railroad, as a gandy dancer on the track gang, yet another step back in time, another step back into a Denver that too often is ignored. The Jonas Brothers’ building still stands at 10th and Broadway, and members of the family still stuff game animals in Louisville, in a business that has been around since 1908. I suppose that “stuff” is not the proper word — maybe recreate and celebrate; and so we compose our legends of Denver.

B50 Note: According to this article published in People Magazine on April 19, 1976, Jonas Brothers was then “the largest taxidermy business in the world.” The article goes on to explain that once a year, at the “Hunter’s Dinner”, Jack Jonas would serve his guests a delicious and diverse menu, including a combination of gnu, elephant, warthog, hippopotamus, python, and other exotic delicacies.

Drive By History, Part 1: Platte River Trail

It says thusly:

This memorial is the property of the State of Colorado

Commemorating the route of the
Platte River Trail
Principal route of Colorado Pioneers
Trail of Major S.H. Long in 1820
Trappers’ trail of 1830s and 1840s
The 1858-9 route of goldseekers with
pick and pan. Homeseekers in covered
wagons, bullwhackers with ox teams,
stagecoaches with treasure and mail
The path that became an empire.

Erected by
The State Historical Society of Colorado
from
The Mrs. J.N. Hall Foundation
and by
State Civil Service Employees of Colorado
1932

B50 Note: This historical marker is located at 5200 Brighton Boulevard, at the intersection of Brighton and York.