Thursday, February 23, 2017

Characters of Teller County: Woods brothers from “Millionaires Row” to " Shangri-La"

Woods Brothers 
The city of Victor, was founded in 1893 by the Woods Brothers and named for Victor Adams who fathered the town of Lawrence, southwest of Victor on Wilson Creek in 1892. The Woods Brothers made their original fortune with the Gold Coin Mine in Victor, which they discovered while digging a basement for a hotel. With some of their fortune they built mansions in Colorado Springs on Wood Avenue and other Cripple Creek district miners followed suit to create a “Millionaires Row” that is still partially intact today.
Despite many other impressive projects in the district, Warren, Harry and Frank Woods’ largest project was probably the power plant that supplied Victor, Cripple Creek and Pueblo with hydroelectric power. Impressive, because such projects are measured against the founding of the town itself, the development of the Gold Coin, United Mines Transportation Tunnel, and other mining interests and the foundation of the First National Bank of Victor and the Golden Crescent Water and Light Company. Southern Colorado Power Company and is a descendant of Pikes Peak Power Company.
The company was formed on Sept. 2, 1899 and was located on Beaver Creek, according to an article penned Kenneth W. Geddes for Pikes Peak Westerners Posse in 1979.
“All in all, eighteen miles of stream were covered. The area is some of the most rugged, inaccessible terrain in Teller and Fremont Counties, and the streams are noted for extreme differences in elevation in short distances,” wrote Geddes.
Original plans contemplated the construction of a dam and three power stations but only the first was ever built and operated. Geddes says that no expense was spared in the construction of the dam and plant and it involved, among other things, the building of its own railroad and the blasting off of an adjoining hilltop with a car of powder. Also the cable car was the only means of accessing the plant other than climbing.
“A trip on the Short Line might bankrupt the English language, but it was almost a prairie run in comparison to the Skaguay cable car trip,” noted Geddes. “The isolation from the outside world created a real life Shangri-La.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Characters of Teller County: 'Somewhat disfigured but still in the ring.'

Emma Langdon
Is Colorado in America?
During the Cripple Creek mining district strike of 1903-1904, both sides – labor and management, asked the question. And media, in its own way, tried to answer.
The violence that erupted between members of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and corporate mining interests determined to smash the union in the district, was state, national, and even international news for much of the first decade of the last century.
Newspapers from around the world could not resist the temptation to comment and weighed-in with their own versions of the compelling story. From the local Victor Record, to the New York World, to Denver’s Polly Pry weekly that covered everything from debutantes to labor conflicts, the press was fascinated by the fracas.
In 2004, historian Bridget Burke contrasted the flair of Nell Anthony’s Polly Pry accounts with those of union printer Emma Langdon of the Victor Record.The Record was considered “the voice” of the WFM and Emma Langdon and a crew of replacements barricaded themselves inside the Record when martial law was declared and produced a morning edition.
This, she accomplished after the arrest of her husband, brother-in-law (both Record typesetters) and the editor George Kyner.
“Somewhat Disfigured, But Still In The Ring,” screamed the headline on that forbidden edition.
Later, martial law activities and deportation by Colorado Governor James H. Peabody prompted The New York World to telegraph the Governor and demand answers.
The World asked Peabody for a “statement of your reasons for permitting Colorado troops to dump 91 union miners on the Kansas line, leaving them destitute on the prairie, miles from habitation. No explanation of this action has reached the East.”
Peabody answered, “The reason for deporting the strikers and agitators from Cripple Creek was the dynamite outrage of June 6, whereby fourteen non-union miners were instantly killed, and the subsequent street riots and killing of two non-union miners by the same element … Rioting, dynamiting, and anarchy has had its day in Colorado.”
“Big Bill” William D. Haywood, secretary-treasurer of the WFM, answered the answer.
“There has been no insurrection in Colorado except that emanating from the occupant of the capitol building. Nowhere in the United States will you find a higher class of working men than this Commonwealth … And it must be remembered that no violence of any description had taken place until after the governor had ordered out the troops, and in the language of George Bell, then ‘hell began to pop.’”
Advertisements from the labor side of the fight during the conflict complained “Habeas Corpus suspended in Colorado, Bull pens for union men in Colorado, Soldiers defy the courts in Colorado, Union men exiled from their homes and families in Colorado, Corporations corrupt and control administration in Colorado, and Citizens alliances resort to mob law in Colorado.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Characters of Teller County: Can't get any more stranded than that.

Groucho Marx
Groucho actually began his career as a female impersonator, according to the March, 1974 issue of Playboy, playing a singer in a smalltime vaudeville troupe, The LeRoy Trio, in 1905.
“With the onset of puberty, and subsequent change of his voice, he was left stranded by the troupe in Cripple Creek, Colorado, and you can’t get any more stranded that,” said the magazine article.
Groucho told the tale in his book, “Groucho and Me,” which was first released in 1959. He went looking for the leader of the act, Gene LeRoy, only to find out he had been abandoned.
“I returned to our boardinghouse to question Larong (LeRoy) about our future plans, only to discover that the master showman had had hastily packed his blue kimono, his evening gown and his mascara and had taken it on the lam, never to be seen or heard from again,” according to Groucho.
After the LeRoy Trio fell apart, he tried work driving a grocery wagon between Cripple Creek and Victor.
“Though he had never seen a horse, he wrangled a job as a wagon driver until Miene or ‘Minnie’ (his mother) could send him his train fare home,”  according to the Playboy article.
His next engagement ended almost as abruptly in Waco, Texas, when the Englishwoman who had hired him, ran off with a lion tamer who shared the bill.
“He then found a job cleaning actor’s wigs, which he describes as a ‘hair-raising experience.’”
His mother decide to take matters into her own hands and organized an act called the ‘Three Nightingales,’ which featured him, his brother Harpo -- who couldn’t sing at all, and a girl who sang off-key. They became the ‘Four Nightingales’ when brother Chico, who had lost his job as a lifeguard (he had to be saved from drowning by another guard). His brother Gummo, eventually replaced the musically-challenged girl, and they became the ‘Four Marx Brothers. Gummo was later replaced by Zeppo, a younger brother.
The Four Marx Brothers knocked around vaudeville for years, finally hitting it big on Broadway in the two –year run of “I’ll Say She Is.” Other successes followed with “Cocoanuts,” and “Animal Crackers.”
Translated from Broadway to film, these and other monster smashes secured the Four Marx Brothers commercial success.
Groucho created his own solo success in radio programs like “You Bet Your Life,” which lasted until 1963, and with his brother Chico, playing the comic lawyers of ‘Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel.’

Monday, February 20, 2017

What if such dynamics were applied to Colorado?

Sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel, playing SimCity

In the early 1990s, while going through an MBA program in California, I encountered SimCity.
I am not, nor never have been much of a game player, but this intrigued me at the time.
If you bear with me a bit for a fairly intricate explanation, I will show you how this affects you here today in Colorado, and 10 years, and 20 years, and 30 years, or more down the road.
SimCity was published in 1989, and was the first game in the SimCity series. SimCity was originally developed by game designer Will Wright. Though the inspiration for SimCity came from a feature of the game “Raid on Bungeling Bay” that allowed Wright to create his own maps during development, he soon found he enjoyed creating maps, more than playing the actual game, and so the idea for SimCity was created. While developing SimCity, Wright cultivated a real love of the intricacies and theories of urban planning and acknowledges the influence of System Dynamics which was developed by Jay Wright Forrester and whose book on the subject laid the foundations for simulation.
System dynamics was created during the mid-1950s by Professor Jay Forrester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, starting in 1956, when he accepted a professorship in the newly formed MIT Sloan School of Management. His primary goal was to determine how his background in science and engineering could be applied to the core issues that determine the success or failure of business.
System dynamics is an element of systems theory and is used to try to understand complex systems. The basics of which, suggest that with structure in any system, many circular, interlocking and perhaps time-delayed relationships among elements of said system, are as important as determining the individual behavior of the pieces of that system itself.
In addition, Wright also was inspired by reading "The Seventh Sally", a short story by Stanisław Lem from The Cyberiad, published in the collection The Mind's I, in which an engineer encounters a deposed tyrant, and creates a miniature city with artificial citizens for the tyrant to oppress.
“In every different edition of SimCity, the player is given the task of founding and developing a city from a patch of green land, defining what buildings are constructed via development zones - residential zones for Sims to live in; commercial zones for Sims to shop and have offices within; industrial zones to provide work through factories, laboratories and farms - as well as ensuring their citizens are kept happy through establishing various services and amenities, all while keeping a stable budget,” says History of Sim City at
In short, SimCity's game mechanics are and were heavily based on 20th-century California development.
That development, and me, having come from a tiny berg in the southwest corner of Colorado that had been about 800 people strong for nearly 100 years, fascinated me to no end. I had just watched the 1987 consolidation of Canyon Country, Saugus, Newhall, and other neighboring communities into the city of Santa Clarita, in southern California. I had seen workers, priced out of the The Bay Area have to “drive until they qualify” over the Altamont and into the Central Valley.
What if such dynamics were applied to Colorado? What if the Front Range dynamics were similar?
I returned to Colorado in early 1996. In my 10-year absence, an area known as Highlands Ranch in Douglas County transformed from a place where a cowboy acquaintance of mine, “Shaggy” Leavell kept track of a few hundred head of white-faced cattle out in the scrub and sagebrush —  to a city that now had 60,000 new homes, retail malls, super highways and interchanges, and more. Douglas County had become the fastest-growing county in the nation and nearby counties weren’t far behind. It looked like someone had put the gas to SimCity.
Which brings us to today, albeit through a bit of a slowdown (or less of an acceleration) in the early part of this millennium, and then the economic disaster of 2008, 2009, and so on.
But things are heating up again.
Regardless, the Colorado State Demography Office, has the following projections:
  • Colorado, as a state, is expected to grow from about 5.5 million people today, to more than 8.5 million by 2050.
  • The Front Range, is expected to grow from about 4.6 million folks today, to more than 7.1 million by 2050.
  • Here in the Colorado Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes El Paso and Teller Counties, at slightly more than 700,000 people, will relatively suddenly become 1.1 million people by 2050.
Demographers, of course have been wrong, but interestingly, in California’s case, and otherwise, they usually tended to underestimate, because certain external forces (at the time of model development, outside the system) were brought to bear.
I was tickled by local musician and philosopher Charlie Searles recent mention of Warren Zevon’s lyrics: “And if California slides into the ocean, like the mystics and statistics say it will,
I predict this motel will be standing, until I pay my bill.”
My memory is still clear regarding things that happened here in Colorado in the 1970s. I vividly remember Gov. Dick Lamm in a sober second inaugural speech back then, predicting that “Colorado was on painful collision course with the future.” Yes. Trouble is, we still will need to work out how the model works for our own SimCities, and will it provide water, transportation, energy, education, and industry. All, while at the same time, preserving the quality of life, we have come to expect. Don't you feel just like desperados under the eaves.

Characters of Teller County: A small voice but a strong voice

Ralph L. Carr
Ralph L, Carr cut his teeth in the news game in the rough and tumble streets of turn-of-the-century Cripple Creek. At the same time, he matched wits with friendly competition and rivalry of the caliber of Lowell Thomas. You would think that the publishing business would have been his legacy.
Carr became more famous for his politics.
But it didn’t affect his friendship with world-renowned newsman Lowell Thomas. The two were steadfast buds up until Carr’s Death in 1950. They became pals in their days as rival newspaper editors, covering much of the same news.
Carr edited a rival paper in Cripple Creek, The Times, at the same time Thomas was at the Victor Record and News.
But, between 1939-1943 Colorado had one of the most courageous and independent governors ever to be elected, by many accounts. 
In 1939 a struggling Republican Party supported Carr as their gubernatorial candidate, and won. Within the first half-hour of his term, Carr proposed a plan for a balanced budget by transferring state income taxes from public schools to the state's general fund. These immediate fiscal measures helped to save our state from imminent bankruptcy. Also due to Carr's leadership, the Legislature passed the State Reorganization Act, which greatly increased the efficiency of state government. As a result, Carr is one of the few governors known for making the Colorado bureaucracy more operative.

One of the few voices of reason during wartime was Governor Carr, who continued to treat the Japanese-Americans with respect and sought to help them keep their American citizenship. He sacrificed his political career to bravely confront the often-dark side of human nature. 
At one time, the New York Times consider him as being on the path to become president of the United States.
"If you harm them, you must harm me. I was brought up in a small town where I knew the shame and dishonor of race hatred. I grew to despise it because it threatened the happiness of you and you and you." Carr's selfless devotion to all Americans, while destroying his hopes for a senate seat, did in the end become extolled as, "a small voice but a strong voice."

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Characters of Teller County: As many as 100 unrecorded fights.

Jack Dempsey
In January of 1928, having recently lost the heavyweight championship of the world title, the fighter know as Jack Dempsey announced his retirement because he was having “trouble” with his left eye muscle. It has been a long tough road from the mining camps of Colorado.

The Associated Press reported in April that Dempsey would not attempt a comeback a comeback – not even for $50 million dollars. “I have enough money,” he told newspapers at the time and still had his health. “I can still walk around and tell time.”
In 1931 and 1932, Dempsey did fight over 100 exposition fights but after his poor showing against “Kingfish” Levinsky, he confirmed his decision not to make a comeback.
William H. Dempsey, the Manassa Mauler, was billed as “one of the toughest men to ever come out of the West. The moniker originated from Dempsey’s birthplace in the San Luis Valley town of Manassa, Colorado.
His dad knocked around various Colorado mining camps, and eked out a living in low level mining jobs for years. Barely able to scrape by, the young Dempsey worked as a mucker in the Cripple Creek District’s Portland Mine before he and his brother hit on a scheme in which they would go into the local saloons and offer to whip anyone in the house for the amount they could collect by passing the hat.
Both he and his brother fought in the saloons under the name of Jack Dempsey, which was borrowed from an eighteenth-century Irish brawler. Though he appeared slight and non-threatening as a 16-year-old kid, according to the legend, Dempsey never lost one of these bare-knuckle brawls.
The Cyber Boxing Zone says that because of this, his record is still incomplete.
“As a hobo from 1911 to 1916, Dempsey had many ‘fights,’ most as ‘Kid Blackie,’ in various Colorado mining towns. His first fight was at 140 pounds during the summer of 1912, a KO of Fred Wood, the ‘Fighting Blacksmith.’ Later that year he Kayoed his future manager, Andy Molloy; It is possible that Dempsey had as a many as 100 unrecorded fights.”
According to Hickok Sports, Dempsey went to New York in 1916 but met with limited success and returned to the west after suffering broken ribs by a more experienced fighter. Hopping freights and picking up occasional bouts to earn money, he met Jack “Doc” Kearns who reportedly taught him to box and matched him against a series of lesser fighters to build his reputation.
“The 6-foot, 190-pound Dempsey met with the 6-foot 6-inch, 250-pound,  heavyweight champion Jess Willard on July 4, 1919, at Toledo, Ohio. Dempsey won a third-round knockout. Promoter Tex Rickard immediately began calling him ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ because Willard was known as the ‘Pottawatomie Giant.’”
Dempsey defended his title only six times in the next seven years and finally lost it to Gene Tunney in a 10-round decision on September 23, 1926 in Philadelphia.
In the rematch in Chicago a year later, Dempsey knocked Tunney down in the seventh round. It took Dempsey several seconds to go back to his neutral corner (a fairly new rule prompted by actions by Dempsey in his 1922 legendary win over Luis Firpo). Tunney got to his feet at count of nine and held on to win a 10-round decision.
It became known famously as “The Long Count,” and Referee Dave Barry had to suffer through derisive fans shouting from one to 14 in unison between rounds in which he refereed – based on Dempsey’s belief that Tunney had been down for 14 seconds, not nine.
A 1950 Associated Press poll named Dempsey “the Greatest Fighter of the half century.” Of his available record of known fights, he logged 63 wins, seven losses, 10 draws, five no decisions, one no contest. Of his wins, 50 were by knockouts. Dempsey died in 1983 at the ripe old age of 87.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

For us, or again' us, power comes from within us

How much do you trust journalists?

If you asked most folks, ‘how much do you trust journalists?’ And then, asked them to rank the profession, we would come in almost at the bottom, down there, near politicians. Truth be known, I’ve seen such surveys but I don’t agree. Because pollsters did the work on those surveys, and their credibility is down there in the sewer, with journalists and politicians.
It is not that I don’t think people are telling them that, but ever an optimist, maybe they don’t mean it.
“I feel a little bit like an expatriate in the sense that I came from the newspaper country, the news country, and I am wandering around unbeknownst to the citizens of the larger economy,” notes Matt Storin, former editor of the Boston Globe and the New York Daily News, Maine Times, and U.S. & World Report. “When you hear what people think about the press, it is discouraging. Maybe their expectations are too high, even unrealistic. The person who hasn’t been inside the tent vastly misjudges the amount of morale debate that goes on in every newsroom that I’ve ever been near,” he said, and I personally agree with that assessment.
This week in Time Magazine, editor Nancy Gibbs mentions that during the campaign of 1800, an opposition newspaper warned that if Thomas Jefferson were elected President, ”murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced … the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.”
Still, Gibbs observed, Jefferson argued that given a choice between a “a government without newspapers, or newspapers without government,” he wouldn’t hesitate to choose the later.
“Two hundred and forty years since the founding of this country, a free press remains democracy’s killer app,” says Gibbs.
Others have long touted a Jeffersonian view of the news business.
“We have to do what Jefferson wanted us to do, which is inform ourselves,” says William Hearst, III, onetime publisher of the San Francisco Examiner and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. “People sometimes talk about the media like this: ‘Here I am. I’m the viewer. There is something coming at me and it’s wrong. And I’m a hopeless victim of its wrongness.’ I have never met anyone who watched television that way. Or read a newspaper that way. Everybody I know watches it and says. ‘What a bunch of bull,’ or ‘I like that guy.’ So there is this continuous filter of ‘I accept it, I don’t accept it.’ which supersedes the authority.”
But always, practitioners of the craft, must exercise caution.
“People don’t see what you think they see. They see what they think they saw. There is an emotive content to vision, to hearing, to all aspects of our lives that you must take into account, and it is very hard to. You need, in our business to have an empathetic imagination so that you can understand the way the message will be received, in addition to the way it is sent,” said Dick Wald of Columbia University School of Journalism and former president of NBC News, VP of ABC News, and managing editor of New York Herald Tribune.
Like no other time in history of the world, however, more options for media exist. You have choices on who, and what, you chose to believe. More fragmentation of message, more channels, more partisan, more people calling themselves journalists, more, more, more.
But the press job has never been to tell people what to think. It is, and always has been, to offer enough information to make decisions for yourself. Putting the clamps down on us, dismissing what we do find out, trying to spin something said into something it is not — all are enemies of not only journalism and a free press, but of our democracy.
We rely on the best of our readers and their own curiosity and decision-making processes.
I trust in that power of the press to carry us forward, for at least another 240 years.