Fort Collins Stories

This week’s story is an excerpt from “Talking About Fort Collins: Selections from Oral Histories,” a joint project of The Friends of the Library and the Local History Department of the Fort Collins Public Library (1992). It’s an amazing collection of recollections and photographs that truly capture the spirit of Fort Collins and its many changes over the years. Transcripts of oral histories can also be found online at the Fort Collins History Connection.

Ellen's story:
“When we first came to Fort Collins, in 1909, the population was less than 10,000. North College wasn’t paved, and right down in front of where Griffith’s used to have their cigar store on Linden, there was always a great big mud hole. We drove a horse and buggy, and sometimes you would hit that and the wheel would go down, and you’d think you were going to get stuck. They’d fill it in, and the next time it rained, why it’d be just as bad as ever. On the corner of LaPorte and College, where the Western Shop is, there used to be a livery barn. Then on down the street at Jefferson and College were what they called the City Corrals. They were barns and they rented out horses and buggies.

“The fire station was on Walnut Street—the only one they had. Those horses would run just as hard as they could; the minute the fire bell started ringing, they were ready to go. They had beautiful teams, and a fancy old fire engine, an old, old one. It was red. They nearly always had one of those coach dogs, or Dalmatians, a spotted dog that would ride up there with the driver. He was their mascot.

“When cars first came, a lot of people thought they were useless. For a long time there were horses and buggies and cars. You just drove wherever you wanted to—there were no stop signs or lanes of traffic. Streetcars rode down the middle, and you usually would drive on the right. You could turn around in the middle of the street—it didn’t make a bit of difference.”

--Ellen Michaud, 1974[Ellen Michaud (1893-1988) was born in Missouri. She was a practical nurse in Fort Collins for many years. (She was interviewed by Jill Boice.)]

Friday Mystery Photo:
Yes, that's me, taking a picture of myself. But where?


Janell said…
I'm stumped - and Marci must be too! Where is the picture from?
Anonymous said…
Hmmm, Old Towne! Is that close enough? :)
Anonymous said…
I can SO envision downtown Fort Collins just the way Ellen describes it, can't you? I wish we could go back to the days with no motor cars on College! :)

I think you are down by the Cupboard in your mystery photo, aren't you?

Jenny said…
I don't know, Marcie, I think I'd rather sit in traffic than get my buggy stuck in a mudhole! But I do love Ellen's description.

The mirror in the mystery picture is part of the Fort Collins Community Wall Mural (1996). It's on the south-facing wall of The Wright Life building, on the corner of Walnut and Linden Streets. (Yes, Old Town is close enough :-))

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