Colorado Goes to the Fair: World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 0826350410, 9780826350411

In many ways, the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, more popularly known as the Chicago World's Fa

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Colorado Goes to the Fair: World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893
 0826350410, 9780826350411

Table of contents :
Front Cover
Title Page
Preface: You Must See This Fair
Prologue: Metropolis of the West
1: The Fair Comes to Chicago
2: Come, Come, Come to the Fair
3: Surprise to the World
4: Not Matter, But Mind; Not Things, But Men
5: Temptations Galore
6: Coloradans Go to the Fair
Back Cover

Citation preview

History | Colorado

cover illustration courtesy of karen a. and mark a. vendl cover design by karen mazur

Duane A. Smith is professor of history at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. He is also the author of San Juan Bonanza: Western Colorado’s Mining Legacy, San Juan Legacy: Life in the Mining Camps, and many other books on Colorado and its mining history.

Colorado Goes to the Fair World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893

Colorado Goes to the Fair

“An interesting combination of analysis of the exposition itself and the generally enthusiastic participation of Coloradans, who shared the excitement of an exposition celebrating the accomplishments of America and its westward-looking society. In the late nineteenth century Colorado was internationally associated with Western investment opportunities and risks. The search for national and international notoriety and publicity explains why Coloradans were anxious to participate in the Columbian exposition of 1893.”—Ronald C. Brown, author of Hard-Rock Miners: The Intermountain West, 1860–1920

Smith | Vendl | Vendl


n many ways, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, more popularly known as the Chicago World’s Fair, symbolized the American people’s belief that today’s glory and tomorrow’s future rested with them, their country, and their democracy. A sixmonth extravaganza of education, entertainment, and amazement, the “White City” sparkled in the daytime and emerged at night, seductive and enchanting. The Fair aroused patriotism, pride, and a sense of achievement in almost all Americans, yet 1893 proved a troubling year for the United States, and for the young state of Colorado in particular. The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act created labor tension in the Colorado mines and contributed to a devastating national depression that would have a lingering impact on Colorado for years. In this heavily illustrated text, the authors trace the glory of the World’s Fair and the impact it would have on Colorado, where Gilded Age excess clashed with the enthusiasm of westward expansion.

Karen A. and Mark A. Vendl are both retired geologists who are interested in Colorado mining history. They are both active members of the Mining History Association; Karen was president of that organization in 2009 and 2010.

isbn 978-0-8263-5041-1 University of New Mexico Press | 800-249-7737

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Duane A. Smith | karen A. VendL | mark A. VendL

Colorado Goes to the Fair

C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA II/5.

Colorado Goes to the Fair World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893

Duane A. Smith Karen A. Vendl Mark A. Vendl

university of new mexico press albuquerque

© 2011 by the University of New Mexico Press All rights reserved. Published 2011 Printed in the United States of America 16  15  14  13  12  11   1  2  3  4  5  6 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Smith, Duane A. Colorado goes to the fair : World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 / Duane A. Smith, Karen A. Vendl, Mark A. Vendl. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8263-5041-1 (paper : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-8263-5042-8 (electronic) 1. World’s Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)—History. 2. World’s Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)—Influence. 3. Exhibitions—Social aspects—Colorado—History—19th century. 4. Social change—Colorado— History—19th century. 5. Colorado—History—1876–1950. 6. Colorado—Social conditions—19th century. 7. Colorado—Economic conditions—19th century. I. Vendl, Karen A. II. Vendl, Mark A. III. Title. T500.B2S64 2011 907.4’77311—dc22 2011010297

Cover art: Colorado State Building, World’s Columbian Exposition. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

to william keast (Creator of the Colorado Gold Mine Model) and to all those from Colorado who participated in the Columbian Exposition

Contents Preface: You Must See This Fair | ix Prologue: Metropolis of the West | 1 Chapter 1

The Fair Comes to Chicago | 7 Chapter 2

Come, Come, Come to the Fair: World’s Columbian Exposition | 18 Chapter 3

Surprise to the World | 29 Chapter 4

Not Matter, But Mind; Not Things, But Men | 42 Chapter 5

Temptations Galore | 58 Chapter 6

Coloradans Go to the Fair: Their Experiences and Opinions | 73 Epilogue: The Glory and the Reality | 86 Appendix: Colorado Exhibits Receiving Awards | 95 Bibliography | 103 Index | 107

“Beneath the stars the lake lay dark and somber, but on its shores gleamed and glowed in golden radiance the ivory city, beautiful as a poet’s dream.” —William Stead, quoted in Bessie L. Pierce, As Others See Chicago I stood by the Court of Honor, and thrilled with the statue of the Republic, and then wrote a poem called “The White City.” I was full of passion for Democracy and for the glory and freedom of the Republic. —Edgar Lee Masters, Across Spoon River “Showers of pearls, diamonds, rubies and emeralds, of light, dark, and mixed colors, gushing forth from the two electric fountains; the search lights dancing here and there, gondolas and electric boats gliding slowly and silently over the dimpling waters of the canal whose banks are ablaze with light. “The bands play merry tunes. Turn your eyes to whatever building you please, you see hosts of suns, moons, and satellites illuminating this model of an earthly heaven.” —Mulji Vedant, quoted in Bessie L. Pierce, As Others See Chicago Like everyone else who saw it at this time I was amazed at the grandeur of “The White City,” and impatiently anxious to have all my friends and relations share in my enjoyment of it [he wrote his father in Dakota Territory]. Sell the cook stove if necessary and come. You must see this fair. —Hamlin Garland, A Son of the Middle Border

Preface You Must See This Fair

it was that wonderful year of 1893 when Americans believed that today’s glory and tomorrow’s future rested with them, their country, and their democracy. They wanted to show the world those very things and set about to do it in the grandest manner possible. They tried their best to create “an earthly heaven.” Perhaps today it is hard to recapture the excitement and ambiance of the World’s Columbian Exposition, more popularly known as the Chicago World’s Fair. Words, or even the images in the surviving photographs, fail to do it justice. The “White City,” the “Dream City,” seemed like the Fourth of July, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day, all rolled into a six-month extravaganza of fun, education, entertainment, and amazement. In the daytime, it sparkled, exciting and challenging; at night, it emerged seductive and enchanting. The fair aroused patriotism, pride, and a sense of achievement in almost all Americans. We now stood as the equal, if not the superior, of “decadent” Europe, and we were definitely far advanced beyond the European colonies and other nations scattered around the world. That popular notion, “White Man’s Burden”—the presumed responsibility of white people to govern and impart their culture to nonwhite people—was apparent as Americans by the thousands strolled through the fair viewing people from different and faraway lands. It was, for those living in the late nineteenth century, a most amazing thing to see and savor, but perhaps it proved too much to totally comprehend and appreciate. Illinois farmer Bert Bark and his fiancée Grace Wesson (Duane Smith’s grandparents) traveled to see the “White City” from their homes near Leland and Sandwich, Illinois, some seventy miles southwest of the fair.




Amazed and intrigued by what they had seen and experienced, they decided to bring a part of it home to share with his friends. Grace and Bert selected that tasty treat, “cotton candy.” So off they traveled, back down to Union Station, to board a Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy passenger train for about an hour’s ride to the station near his farm, while carefully protecting their cherished prize. Bert took it home with him, then gently put his treat in a dish to await the morning when neighbors would be invited to see the “prize” he had brought back. Alas, when the sun came up in the morning, all that remained was sugary water, with a few pieces of soot floating about. In some ways, their experience and disappointment symbolize the fair in all its glory, excitement, and aftermath. It flashed brilliantly, but what were its impact and significance? To help answer that question, the authors selected Colorado and its role in, about, and around the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. What impact did the World’s Fair have on Colorado and its people at a time when a dark, deep, desperate depression was settling over the mountains, plateaus, valleys, and plains? So travel back, dear reader, to a time long ago but strikingly modern in so many ways. The authors owe a large measure of thanks to many people, archives, and organizations for their help in bringing alive another era and generation. These include the Chicago Public Library, the Denver Public Library, the Gilpin County Historical Society, the Fort Lewis College Library, the Delaney Research Library, and the Colorado Historical Society. The authors also wish to thank the following individuals: Albert Farnley, Craig Thomas, Barbara Clements, Steve Friesen, Kevin Britz, and Gay Smith for their valuable contributions to this volume.

Invitation to Dedication Day, Mrs. William Patrick, Leadville, Colorado. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

Prologue Metropolis of the West

We have been passing, as a people since 1876, through a period of prosperity unparalleled in the history of nations. It has been the golden age of American enterprise, American industry and American development. Most fitting it is, therefore, that the people of the greatest nation on the continent discovered by Christopher Columbus, should lead in the celebration of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of that event. —Official Guide to the World’s Columbian Exposition It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago—she outgrows her prophecies faster than she can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time. —Mark Twain I have struck a city—a real city—and they call it Chicago. . . . I urgently desire never to see it again. It is inhabited by savages. —Rudyard Kipling

at the time of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, Chicago billed itself as the “Metropolis of the West,” but even Chicagoans had to admit that the title was new to the city. In the space of one lifetime, Chicago had risen from a swamp to a bustling urban center. In those seventy years prior to the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago grew from a frontier outpost on the prairie to the second largest city in the United



States and the seventh largest in the world. By 1890, it had surpassed a population of one million and beckoned as a place of great opportunity. Cyrus McCormick, Philip Armour, George Pullman, Marshall Field, and many others helped build Chicago while amassing large personal fortunes. This explosive growth also created a host of economic and environmental problems for much of Chicago’s population, to the point where it was known as the “Black City.” According to Donald Miller in City of the Century (1996, 17), no large city had grown so fast “and nowhere else could there be found in more dramatic display such a combination of wealth and squalor, beauty and ugliness, corruption and reform.” Chicago had the ability to attract people from all walks of life. Theodore Dreiser, in his novel Sister Carrie, writes that 1889 Chicago had the peculiar qualifications of growth which made such adventuresome pilgrimages even on the part of young girls plausible. Its many and growing commercial opportunities gave it widespread fame, which made of it a giant magnet, drawing to itself, from all quarters, the hopeful and the hopeless— those who had their fortune yet to make and those whose fortunes and affairs had reached a disastrous climax elsewhere. (Dreiser 1958, 12)


At first sight, Chicago was not an ideal location for a city. When the first settlers arrived in the 1770s, its future site was a marshy area along the shore of Lake Michigan, near the mouth of a sluggish river. Native Americans and early French explorers, however, appreciated that the Mississippi River system could be reached after a portage from this river (the South Branch of the Chicago) to the Des Plaines River. Between the 1830s and 1840s, a canal was dug connecting these two rivers, thus joining the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. Dug largely by hand by poor Irish immigrants, it went along a route originally suggested by Louis Joliet in the seventeenth century. When the ninety-six-mile Illinois and Michigan Canal was completed in 1848, Chicago’s position as a trading center was firmly established. With the canal built, William B. Ogden, Chicago’s first mayor, envisioned the city as the center for railroad expansion to the west. In 1848, he purchased a used locomotive, the Pioneer, and began building a railroad to Galena, Illinois, the heart of lead mining in northern Illinois. The Galena and Chicago Union Railroad made money from the start. On November 20, 1848, the Pioneer traveled from Chicago to the end of the track—eight miles west of the city—and brought back a shipment of wheat, the first ever to arrive by train in Chicago. Ogden eventually incorporated his railroad into the 860-mile Chicago and Northwestern Railway, tapping into the wheat fields of Illinois and Wisconsin. In two short years, Chicago became the center of nearly all railway traffic to the west. By 1857, Chicago had emerged as the center of the largest railroad network in the world, becoming the focus of ten trunk lines of nearly three thousand miles of track. Fifty-eight

Metropolis of the West

passenger and thirty-eight freight trains arrived and departed Chicago daily. With so many railroad lines, and located on Lake Michigan with canal connections to the Mississippi, Chicago was truly the transportation hub of the Midwest and West. This transportation network set the stage for unparalleled industrial and economic growth. With these transportation connections, Chicago became the supplier of lumber for western expansion. Lumber from the vast forests of northern Wisconsin and Michigan arrived on boats coming down Lake Michigan. Once in Chicago, it was transferred to trains traveling on to supply the prairie towns to the west with much-needed building material. Chicago emerged as the world’s largest lumberyard with, by 1870, over two hundred lumber boats arriving every twelve hours. A year later, the lumberyards covered nearly ten miles of riverfront. Trains, wheat, and lumber were not all this budding metropolis offered. Cyrus Hall McCormick arrived in Chicago in 1848 from Virginia to build a four-story factory, one of the first in the city, to manufacture his reaper termed the “mechanical man,” which he had invented ten years earlier. McCormick’s harvesting machine revolutionized farming. According to one Chicagoan, the machine “is capable of cutting and binding in sheaves at the rate of two acres an hour, under the sole management of any boy or girl having skill to drive a span of horses attached to it” (Miller 1996, 103). The factory was located on the north side of the Chicago River, opposite where Fort Dearborn had once stood. McCormick employed about 120 men, making him the largest employer in Chicago. Reapers were shipped to farmers along William Ogden’s Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, which brought back the cut wheat to Chicago’s grain houses along the river. It was then shipped east by boat. In the first year, 450 reapers were made, and by 1869 the number had risen to 4,000. When McCormick moved to Chicago, the wheat-producing center of the country was in New York. Ten years later it had shifted to the Mississippi Valley, and Chicago became known as the “Great Reaper City” (Miller 1996, 106). In 1873, Mrs. Sara Jane Lippincott visited Chicago and was so impressed with how quickly it had grown from a trading post to a bustling urban area that she termed it “the lightning city.” “Chicago’s growth is one of the most amazing things in the history of modern civilization. The log huts have made way for magnificent warehouses and palaces of marble; the little traders have become great merchants, some of them worth millions of dollars, and doing business on a scale of extraordinary magnitude” (Mayer and Wade 1969, 35). Chicago’s population in 1871 reached three hundred thousand. About 9 p.m. on October 8, 1871, fire broke out in Catherine O’Leary’s barn, located on the city’s near-southwest side. Chicago had been suffering through a severe drought, and its wood structures, which predominated in the city, were tinder dry. The fire spread rapidly to the north and east, jumping the Chicago




River, first on the south branch and later along the main branch downtown. By the time the fire ended two days later, one hundred thousand people, or one third of the city’s population, were left homeless, with a loss of property reaching nearly $200 million. It destroyed four square miles, including most of the business district, and was one of the most spectacular events of the century. One hundred and twenty-five bodies were recovered, but many more people remained missing. The fire was a defining moment in Chicago’s history. The Tribune, on October 11, urged citizens to “Cheer Up, In the midst of calamity without parallel in the world’s history, looking upon the ashes of thirty years’ accumulations, the people of this once beautiful city have resolved that chicago shall rise again.” Rebuilding started before the ashes were cold. In the first week, over five thousand temporary structures were erected, and two hundred permanent buildings were begun. Luckily, many of the city’s industries were located south and west of the area that burned, and remained untouched by the fire. The Great Chicago Fire was one of the great urban catastrophes of all time; nevertheless, the city rebuilt itself in two short years. The city council passed an ordinance forbidding wooden structures in the downtown area in order to prevent a fiery repeat. This allowed for more substantial buildings to be constructed, creating a boom for architects. The face of the city changed over the next two decades. Architects such as Daniel H. Burnham, John Wellborn Root, Dankmar Adler, and Louis Sullivan developed the skyscraper and a unique Chicago style. The Union Stock Yards opened south of the city in 1865 and encompassed nearly a square mile, with pens that could hold twenty-three thousand cattle, seventy-five thousand hogs, and twenty thousand sheep. In 1875, both Philip Armour and Gustavus Swift moved to Chicago and revolutionized the meatpacking business. According to historian Donald Miller, “they arrived in Chicago at a time ideal for men with giant projects. Swift perfected the use of refrigerator cars built by George Pullman to ship beef east, reducing costs dramatically” (Miller 1996, 205). By 1893, the Union Stock Yard had a workforce of twentyfive thousand men, women, and children and processed fourteen million animals per year, at a value of $200 million. This represented an expansion of 900 percent since the Great Fire. Philip Armour organized a meat-packing empire that made use of every part of the animal. Armour’s philosophy was, “It is the aim that nothing shall be wasted.” Armour boasted, “I pack . . . everything but the last breath of the hog” (Miller 1996, 215). By 1885, he employed ten thousand people, and the company’s products were valued at $50 million annually. As the 1890s opened, George Pullman was “probably the best known Chicago name throughout America, as well as abroad,” according to the London Times. Pullman made his fortune manufacturing his famous Palace Cars. Pullman got the idea for his luxury sleeping cars while riding one of the first uncomfortable, crowded sleeping cars on a long business trip. His idea was “that the people

Metropolis of the West

are always willing to pay for the best, provided they get the worth of their money” (Miller 1996). What he had in mind was a sleeping car that would provide luxury travel for the middle class—fine china, linen, cuisine, and service—to create the best possible experience. To finance his dream, Pullman went to Colorado in 1860 and spent three years in the gold fields to raise money for his idea. It proved a hard sell, as most railroads thought the car not practical because of its large size. If they wanted to use it on their lines, they would have to raise trestles and widen bridges and platforms. In 1865, a Pullman Palace car carried Lincoln’s body from Chicago to Springfield, Illinois. A company official years later said, “Mr. Pullman’s car became the subject of universal comment. From that moment its success was assured” (Miller 1996, 229). Marshall Field, the “Merchant Prince,” was probably the most influential citizen in Chicago. In 1868, he and partner Levi Leiter leased Potter Palmer’s dry goods store, located on State Street, and continued using Palmer’s successful business strategy of personalized service: “Give the lady what she wants.” After losing this store during the Great Fire, Field rebuilt in a new facility that was one third larger than the old store. In 1881, Field bought out Leiter and went on to amass a fortune. By the time of the fair in 1893, Field was probably the richest man in Chicago (Wendt and Kogan 1952, 223). The rapid rebirth of the city after the Great Fire came about in large part due to these men and the economic growth they brought. However, that growth also brought with it smoke, soot, health hazards, and an environmental nightmare that came from unfettered industrialization. Chicago was called “the Black City” because of the smoke from all the trains entering the city, the soot coming from the factories, and health and environmental hazards of animal by-products that were discharged directly into the Chicago River and its tributaries. Anxious to change its image and to show the world what a truly great city it was, Chicago lobbied hard for the World’s Fair. Pullman, Palmer, Swift, Armour, and Field were Chicago’s social elite in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Their power, influence, and wealth were instrumental in Chicago being selected as the site of the fair.

Next page: General map of the World’s Columbian Exposition. From Shepp’s World’s Fair Photographed. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.


Chapter 1

The Fair Comes to Chicago

Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood. —Daniel Burnham Make it the greatest Show on Earth. —P. T. Barnum

the initial suggestion to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to America emerged during the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Dr. A. W. Harlan may have been the first to suggest publically that Chicago could possibly be a location for the exposition, in a letter to the Chicago Times dated February 16, 1882. I wish to suggest the holding of an international exhibition in Chicago in 1892, which will be the four-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the new world by Columbus, and it seems that such an event might very appropriately be celebrated in this manner. The progress of the western continent, particularly, should be the leading feature of such an exposition, and Chicago by 1892, will have a population of about one million, while the country west, north, and south of us will have gained several millions, thus placing her near the population center of the United States, the situation of Chicago on the borders of a great lake furnishing transportation by water. The unequaled railroad facilities, and the coolness of the season from April, or May, to November, render it the most desirable spot on the continent to hold such a world’s fair. The American people must have an event to celebrate before they can become enthusiastic in its support, and here is the event. The great artists and sculptors may produce their choicest works for


Chapter 1

such an exposition. Our agriculture, mechanical, and scientific workers may be represented in such an endless variety of production, creation, and discovery as shall be an education to the on-looker. It needs no argument to convince one of the value to a nation of world’s fairs, when they do not come too often. By the time that 1892 shall roll around we, on this side of the water, will need such an occasion to show our ancestors what the children of the new world are doing, and we cannot better do it in any other manner than by holding a world’s fair, and it should be held in our own Chicago.


Harlan may have exaggerated the coolness of Chicago’s summers (it can be very hot and humid), but his assessment of the situation and predictions for the future seem to have been very accurate. In 1888, a bill was proposed in Congress seeking a federal appropriation of $5 million for an exposition in Washington, D.C., honoring the four-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s voyage to America. However, several other cities, including St. Louis, New York, and Chicago, objected to this bill, as they also had an interest in hosting a World’s Columbian Exposition. In 1889, a committee was formed to secure the World’s Fair for Chicago. This committee included a who’s who of Chicago’s elite: Marshall Field, George Pullman, Potter Palmer, Phillip Armour, and others. They represented the “movers and shakers,” who had been instrumental in rebuilding Chicago after the Great Fire. Most significantly, they possessed the political, business, and community connections and acumen, not to mention the needed financial resources, to win the prize. Moving ahead with unusual alacrity, the city council, within a month, chartered a corporation to help acquire the fair. Chicago had caught the vision of what the fair would mean to it. It would take more than civic leadership and pride, however, to secure the honor. “With characteristic energy,” these “substantial business men raised more than $5,000,000 by subscription, and [the committee] pledged itself to increase the amount to $10,000,000, to be expended in behalf of the Fair.” They had one other factor in their favor: “The friendship of the country, outside the rival cities named, seemed to be with Chicago.” New York, for a variety of reasons, was not very popular in the hinterlands. As others dropped by the wayside, the contest narrowed to two urban “heavyweights,” Chicago and New York. When the Fifty-First U.S. Congress convened in December, the battle commenced, as a World’s Fair bill was introduced into the Senate. Meanwhile, as Congress deliberated, partisan newspapers fought out the contest from the front page to the editorial page. Both cities realized that second place meant nothing. Back in Washington, Congress debated and discussed the question. Later, fair visitors reading A Week at the Fair received a capsule summation of what then transpired.

The Fair Comes to Chicago

We find that the real contest began in December of that year [1889] when Senator Cullom [Illinois senator Shelby Moore Cullom who, over his career, served in the United States House and Senate as well as governor of Illinois] introduced the World’s Fair Bill in the United States Senate. Keen was the contest for the honor of the site; the debate at times ranging from acrimonious to the ridiculous. Cumberland Gap was suggested and voted for by one enthusiastic or waggish representative. . . . Ultimately on the 24th of February, 1890, Congress definitely accorded the honor of inviting the world as guests to the “Phoenix City of the Great Lakes.”

All of the Chicago planning, fund-raising, and determined lobbying paid off handsomely. The congressional vote was never close. On the first ballot, “as to the location, it led New York by more than forty votes.” Chicago won on the eighth ballot. “The superiority of the Lake City in many respects as a place for holding the Exposition was admitted.” With a sigh of relief, Chicago awaited the final act’s passage and its signing by the president. Credit went to the skilled leadership and to one tremendously vital detail: “in financial matters Chicago came fearlessly to the front” (A Week at the Fair 1893). On April 25, 1890, Congress passed “an Act to provide for celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, by holding an International Exposition of Arts, Industries and Manufacturers, and products of soil, mine and sea, in the City of Chicago.” President Benjamin Harrison signed the act, which authorized $1.5 million for the United States exhibit and provided for the dedication of the buildings in Chicago on October 12, 1892. The exposition was to open to the public on May 1, 1893, giving Chicago an additional year to accomplish this monumental task. The last day of the exposition would be the thirtieth of October. Chicago was ecstatic. But now, the real work would begin (World Columbian Exposition Illustrated 1, no. 1 [Feb. 1891]: 8 [hereafter WCEI]). Finding the perfect site in Chicago for the exposition proved not an easy task. Six months after Congress’s decision, the exposition’s board of directors had not been able to pick a site for the exposition. Various parts of the city pushed hard to have it in their area. Meanwhile, valuable time was being lost. In July of 1890, the famous landscape architect who designed New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, was asked to consider designing the fair’s landscape. At first he refused, but finally agreed when he realized that this would be his opportunity to demonstrate that landscape architecture was equal in stature to the traditional arts. He believed that the exposition would give landscape architecture greater exposure and acceptance. Olmsted and his partner, Henry Codman, arrived in Chicago in August to pick a site. Seven sites in the city were studied as possible locations, with Olmsted, along with Daniel Burnham, favoring the Jackson


Chapter 1


Park area on Chicago’s South Side. The site, covered with marshes and wild oak ridges, had the advantage of being located on the shore of Lake Michigan, which Olmsted considered the perfect backdrop for the fair (Larson 2004). On October 30, 1890, the firm of Burnham and Root was formally appointed as consulting architects for the fair, with Daniel H. Burnham to be the chief of construction and his partner, John Root, the supervising architect. Burnham and Root, Chicago’s leading architectural firm, had become famous by designing many of the city’s first skyscrapers. Olmsted and Henry Codman were appointed supervising landscape architects. Finally, in November of 1890, the board chose Jackson Park as the location for the exposition. There was no time to lose. Together with Burnham and Root, Olmsted and his partner plotted a general plan for the fairgrounds, including the square footage of the buildings. The plan, which was approved in December 1890, called for five major exposition halls surrounding a Court of Honor. A huge lagoon would also be constructed, along with three miles of interconnecting canals. One of Olmsted’s centerpieces would be a sixteen-acre “Wooded Island,” located in the lagoon, which would be a natural refuge for exposition visitors. His plan was to keep it free from any buildings, although, eventually, a Japanese temple and garden were built on the island. Burnham and Root decided not to design any of the buildings for the fair themselves. To represent the whole country, Burnham selected five architects from outside Chicago to design the main buildings on the Court of Honor. Burnham then selected ten Chicago architectural firms to design the rest of the major buildings outside the Court of Honor, except for the Woman’s Building. It was decided to advertise a competition, open only to women, to design that building. The advertisement, which stated that designs must be submitted by March 23, 1891, read: “The selected design will carry with it the appointment of its author as architect of the building in question. The architect will make her working drawings in the bureau of construction, and receive an honorarium of $1,000 besides expenses.” (The male architects of the other buildings received $10,000.) Twelve women submitted designs for the Woman’s Building, and the Board of Lady Managers hired Sophia Hayden, a twenty-one-year-old graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as the architect (WCEI 1, no. 2 [Mar. 1891]: 20). The Jackson Park site, which was six miles from the center of the business district, allowed for good access, not only by land, but also by water. In addition to existing streetcar lines, elevated railroads were to be built, and the Illinois Central Railroad had a “4-track road running direct from the heart of the city to Jackson Park” (WCEI 1, no. 1 [Feb. 1891]: 12). Furthermore, each of the many major railroads entering Chicago would have branch lines running to the fairgrounds. Steamers on Lake Michigan would provide additional access from downtown Chicago.

The Fair Comes to Chicago

The selected site totaled 633 acres, including Jackson Park on the lakefront, Washington Park a short distance inland, and the Midway Plaisance, which connected the two parks. The Midway, a strip of land six hundred feet wide and one mile long, ran along the edge of the new University of Chicago campus. It became the location for exotic amusements and attractions, which although not strictly part of the exposition, proved extremely popular among fairgoers. The term “Midway” has come to mean sideshow attractions, which are now popular at circuses, as well as county and state fairs, across the country. On January 15, 1891, John Root, Daniel Burnham’s partner, died in his home from pneumonia, leaving Burnham devastated. Even though Burnham took on Charles Atwood, an architect from New York, as his new partner, the construction of the exposition became Burnham’s sole responsibility. Burnham had a small shanty built on the fairgrounds where he lived throughout most of the construction of the fair. Ground was broken to begin construction of the exposition in January 1891. Huge steam dredges dug out sixty acres for future waterways. Swampy areas were filled in and the ground surface was raised several feet to accommodate the buildings. In the first six months, 1.2 million cubic yards of soil had been moved. Much of this work was done by horses and mules hauling dirt-trains and carts, while thousands of workers, using picks and shovels, leveled and shaped the site. Groundbreaking for the first building, the Mines and Mining Building, occurred on July 2, 1891. All of the major exposition buildings were framed in steel, using techniques Burnham and Root had developed for Chicago’s skyscrapers. Lumber then covered the frame, which in turn was coated with a mixture of plaster of Paris and hemp fiber called “staff.” Since it was decided that the major exposition buildings would be painted white, the exposition thus became known as the “White City.” It became obvious that in order to paint the large exposition buildings in time for opening day, something needed to be done to speed up the process. An electric painting machine was designed, with which three men could do the job of twenty. The huge Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building’s thirteen acres of surface was painted in six weeks, using ten of the new spray-painting machines. Construction hit its peak about a year after groundbreaking. At the height of construction, forty thousand workers were employed. After the lagoons, island, and canals were created, Olmsted had the monumental job of planting literally thousands of flowers, shrubs, and trees throughout the grounds. During construction of the buildings and landscaping of the grounds, thousands of people paid twenty-five cents for the privilege of watching the preparations. Construction proceeded rapidly and Burnham proved remarkably successful at keeping on schedule. He did have his share of delays, however, many of them weather related. Rain often slowed progress, leaving the grounds covered in water. For example, on June 15, 1892, a storm extensively damaged the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, causing weeks of delay.


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Winter weather also caused difficulties in building the exposition. The winter of 1892–1893 was one of the most severe in Chicago history. For weeks, ice and snow topped the buildings, putting extreme stress on the roofs. Portions of some roofs collapsed and when the snow melted, there was some damage to the interior of the buildings. Just before New Year’s Day, a thaw occurred which once again damaged the Manufactures Building. It was described this way: Nothing could have withstood the tremendous power and weight of the snow. The corrugated sheeting of the gutter along the edge of the main roof curled like paper, and was carried in great strips to the roof of the annex below. The wooden supports of the skylights were broken and twisted in a thousand shapes. Thousands of panes of glass were splintered. Great sections of the roof gave way, and fell to the floor below. An hour after the first disastrous accident another huge section of snow fell, crashing through the roof two or three hundred feet south of the first break, and leaving an opening fifty feet in length. So great was the concussion that a plate of glass, carried downward in the great mass of snow and splintered framework, was embedded in the floor and stood upright, as though placed on edge by a glazier. (Bancroft 1894, 67)


In addition to overseeing the construction of the major exposition halls, Burnham needed to provide all the services of a large city. Safe drinking water had to be provided for the millions of visitors and workers during the six-month run of the fair. To do this, two water plants, with a total capacity of sixty-four million gallons per day, were built. In addition, Burnham piped spring water one hundred miles to the fairgrounds from Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Fairgoers could drink filtered water from Lake Michigan for free or pay a penny a cup for the Wisconsin spring water. Fire remained a constant threat. Burnham had hundreds of fire hydrants and alarm boxes installed and created the World’s Fair Fire Brigade to fight any fires. He also established an exposition security force, the Columbian Guard, which consisted of two thousand men, to handle police duties. The waste from three thousand water closets, two thousand urinals, and fifteen hundred lavatories created a major problem that had to be disposed. “The sewage system treated six million gallons per day, similar to a city of 600,000. Sewage was chemically treated and incinerated on site, with runoff piped into Lake Michigan” (Bolotin and Laing 1992, 20). An additional duty that Burnham had was to prepare the Manufactures Building as the auditorium that would house the dedication ceremony in October 1892. He needed to prepare plans for the grandstand, interior decoration, and seating arrangements for the many dignitaries and spectators who would attend. Immediately after the dedication, these temporary arrangements had to be removed to make room for the exhibits, which were scheduled to begin arriving November 1.

The Fair Comes to Chicago

One of the fair designers’ tasks was to design a special structure, like the Eiffel Tower constructed for the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889. It became a major attraction, but Chicago wanted something even more enchanting at its fair. In order to out-Eiffel Paris, the fair designers set about trying to create something bigger and better. To start this process, the Chicago Tribune, in October and November of 1889, asked citizens to submit designs for a structure that would “put the Eiffel Tower in the shade.” Designs for many towers, and even an egg-shaped building, were submitted, and of those, the Proctor Tower was selected. This tower looked remarkably like the Eiffel Tower, but, at 1,150 feet high, it was to be 164 feet higher than its Paris rival. Architects originally wanted the tower next to the lakefront, but it was subsequently moved to a location behind the Woman’s Building on the border between Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance. However, after laying the foundations for the Proctor Tower, the project was canceled, probably for financial reasons. So the designers found themselves back at the beginning, trying to come up with some structure to surpass the Eiffel Tower. Burnham stated, “Mere bigness is not what is wanted.” His idea focused on something so spectacular, designed by an American, which would show the world this country’s engineering skill. This triumph would be George Ferris’s huge revolving wheel. The Ferris wheel ended up being located on the Midway Plaisance, that narrow park, as mentioned, that connected Jackson Park on the lakefront to Washington Park on the west. Initially, the Midway was under the supervision of Harvard anthropologist Frederick Ward Putnam. Putnam believed the upcoming event would provide an opportunity for “a perfect ethnographic exhibition of the past and present peoples of America and thus make an important contribution to science, which at the time will be appropriate, as it will be the first bringing together on a grand scale of representatives of peoples who were living on the continent when it was discovered by Columbus” (Collier 1969, 4). Not everyone thought this a great idea. On September 16, 1890, the Chicago Daily Tribune had a different idea. If such an exhibition as this is needed it can be amply provided for from the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. If the archaeological enthusiasts think that the public has a wild, yearning desire to see skeletons from the glacial gravels or detritus from cave floors and shell heaps, let them spend their own money. The directors have no money to waste on the man of the ice sheet or stone monstrosities from serpent mounds—Prof. Putnam, like all these dried-up prehistoric specialists, mistakes the purpose of the Fair. The directors could easily waste five times the amount of money they have if they were to listen to the specialists.

Under Putnam, the Midway was to be a “walk through Social Darwinism, starting with ‘primitive’ tribal existence” on the west end of the Midway, “moving


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through the ‘barbarisms’ of the Orient and the ‘misguided’ ancient history of the Old World to the heights of American forward-looking civilization in the White City” beyond the east end of the Midway (Morse 2010, 4). It was determined that there were better money-making (and less racist) ventures to put on the Midway, so its control was turned over to Sol Bloom. Putnam remained on, as chief of the Ethnology Department, whose charge included the Colorado Cliff Dwellers exhibit. Sol Bloom, a twenty-one-year-old protégé of P. T. Barnum, was hired to bring entertainment to the Midway, turning it into one of the world’s first amusement parks. Years later, Bloom said that putting Putnam in charge of the Midway was like putting Albert Einstein in charge of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. At the end of the 1889 Paris World’s Fair, Bloom had purchased the rights to display the Algerian Village at future expositions. He felt that the Midway would be a perfect venue for his village. The crowds poured in to see his North African belly dancers, giving Bloom a gold mine. In addition to the Algerian Village, the Midway included the popular German Village, Streets in Cairo, the captive balloon, and the Irish Village. The Midway would provide the visitor a different experience from the purely educational one of the main exposition. Many fairgoers wanted to be entertained and see sights of the world that they otherwise would never have seen. By October 21, 1892, the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building was sufficiently complete to house Dedication Day ceremonies. Francis J. Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance specifically in honor of the dedication, and it was mailed to every school in the country. A grand military parade of fifteen thousand soldiers took place in Washington Park in front of two hundred thousand people. Gen. Nelson Miles, who had served under Ulysses Grant in the Civil War, led the parade. In the afternoon, dignitaries arrived at the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building in a grand parade. Over one hundred forty thousand people filled the great hall to listen to an endless number of speakers who were involved with the fair, including Daniel Burnham, Bertha Palmer, the president of the Board of Lady Managers, and Harlow Higinbotham, the official president of the exposition. The Manufactures Building was so large, and there were so many people present, that most listeners could not hear what was being said. A chorus of five thousand voices, along with a five-hundred-piece orchestra, entertained the crowd with a moving rendition of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” The crowd stirred, spontaneously waving a hundred thousand handkerchiefs in the air. However, after all the fanfare finished, the realization set in that only six months remained till the opening of the exposition, and there was much yet to be accomplished. Construction of these magnificent buildings was only the beginning—once completed, they had to be filled with exhibits. In April of 1891, “Rules for

The Fair Comes to Chicago

Exhibitors” was published in the World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated. An aspiring exhibitor had to first submit an application explaining the kind of goods he or she hoped to display. By July 1891, a thousand potential exhibitors had applied for space to the exposition headquarters. Once applications were approved, twelve departments determined the location of, and the allotment of space for, each exhibit. These departments were: A. Agriculture, Forest Products, Forestry, Machinery and Appliances B. Viticulture, Horticulture, Floriculture C. Live Stock, Domestic and Wild Animals D. Fish, Fisheries, Fish Products and Apparatus of Fishing E. Mines, Mining and Metallurgy F. Machinery G. Transportation: Railways, Vessels, Vehicles H. Manufactures I. Electricity J. Fine Arts K. Liberal Arts, Education, Engineering, Public Works, Architecture, Music and Drama L. Ethnology, Archeology, Progress of Labor and Invention: Isolated and Collective Exhibits.

Exhibits began to be received at the exposition on November 1, 1892, and all had to be there no later than April 10, 1893. Some of the exhibits coming by ship on Lake Michigan during the winter of 1892–1893 were delayed in their arrival in Chicago because of heavy gales or because the severe weather caused the vessels to become icebound. By the spring of 1893, however, exhibits were arriving at the fair by train as well as by ship, and became regular occurrences. By January 1893, the first major exhibit had been installed. It was a thirtyfoot-long, twenty-three-foot-diameter section of a redwood tree from California; it took a train of eleven freight cars to bring it to Chicago. Once installed in the Government Building, it was hollowed out, furnished, lighted by electricity, and made into a two-story “house.” Exhibits arrived from all over the world, ranging from South African diamonds to the largest artillery piece in the world, made by the Krupp Gun Works of Germany. Krupp’s “Baby” weighed 127 tons, measured fifty-seven feet from breech to muzzle, and had a range of sixteen miles. It took a specially constructed railroad car that had thirty-two wheels to transport the monster. Temporary railroad tracks were laid throughout the fairgrounds and into the main exposition


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halls. Steam cranes mounted on railroad wheels unloaded the tons of exhibit material into their proper location within the halls. With more than sixty-five thousand exhibits from nearly one hundred nations, the job was monumental. In order to accommodate the many expected visitors, entrances and exits at the fair were carefully planned. There were 326 turnstiles, 182 ticket windows, and 97 ticket booths, where children and adults paid admission. One hundred seventy-two exit gates served those tired people who were going back to their lodging after a long day of entertainment and education at the fair. In addition to the arrival of exhibits, plans were made governing the many concessionaires vying for the privilege of selling their products at the fair. In June 1891, the World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated published rules and regulations governing such sales. Fair officials stated that all applicants for concessions must state the space they require, and whether or not a special building will be required. This class includes the restaurants and dispensers of soda water, cigars, tobacco, photographs, guide books, rolling chairs, cut flowers, confectionery, bakery supplies, lemonade, messenger service, telegraph service and perfumery. (WCEI 1, no. 5 [June 1891]: 5)

Among the rules that concessionaires had to obey were:


Lessees will be required to keep their premises clean and in complete order at all times, and shall not permit any violence, coarse or insolent language or unnecessary noise about their premises. Any employes [sic] or assistants wearing the number assigned by the Exposition management, appearing upon the grounds at any time intoxicated, making unnecessary noise or using coarse or insolent language, will be deprived of their number and be immediately and permanently expelled from the grounds. (WCEI 1, no. 5 [June 1891]: 6)

Yet another indication that the exposition was coming together was the arrival of exhibits from other countries. On September 20, 1891, the colors of the oldest European government were unfurled; the flag of Turkey thus became the first of a foreign nation to be raised on the exposition grounds. As opening day approached, some exhibits were still being prepared, but that did not dampen the spirits of the nation. At noon on May 1, 1893, President Grover Cleveland appeared on the grandstand, which had been constructed in front of the Administration Building. Following a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving and a recitation of a poem written especially for the exposition, the buildings were presented to the president, who then addressed the multitudes of people attending. The president said, in part: Let us hold fast to the meaning that underlies this ceremony, and let us not lose the impressiveness of this moment. As by a touch the machinery that gives life

The Fair Comes to Chicago

to this vast Exhibition is now set in motion, so at the same instant, let our hopes and aspirations awaken forces which in all time to come shall influence the welfare, dignity, and the freedom of mankind. (WCEI 3, no. 4 [June 1893]: 86)

After he spoke these words, the president pressed the electric key that started the huge engines in Machinery Hall, opening the exposition. The Statue of the Republic was unveiled, cannons roared, flags were unfurled, and fountains erupted. The crowd cheered for ten minutes, then joined in the singing of “America.” The exposition had begun!


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Come, Come, Come to the Fair World’s Columbian Exposition

The Columbian Exposition represents the world in miniature. You get a European trip without the ocean voyage. To miss this chance of self education would be a mistake always regretted. —New Castle News (Colorado), August 26, 1893 We lost no time and had our breakfast, then carrying our lunches, which we had put up at the hotel, we proceeded to the Fair Grounds. This was only a little distance and very convenient, as we afterwards learned for tired feet. Upon reaching the grounds, we proceeded to the Buckeye State Building and did our duty by placing our names on the register. —Amelia Hoenig A sense of surprise, of delight, a suggestion of enchanted regions, come to one as he stands for the first time in the great court of the World’s Fair. The first is the vast change which this object lesson will make in the minds of millions who visit it, broadening, opening, lighting up dark corners, bringing them in sympathy with their fellow-men, sending them back to homes, however humble, with thoughts that will beautify and gladden entire lifetimes, furnishing a topic for countless winter nights’ exchanges of opinions and themes of stories for generations yet unborn. —John Brisben

chicago 1893—the world’s columbian exposition—the “White City”— America’s celebration of the four-hundredth anniversary of the arrival of


Come, Come, Come to the Fair

Columbus, might have occurred a year late, but few worried about it. Indeed, the prevailing attitude was, Come! Come to Chicago’s World’s Fair to see the wonders of today and the marvels of tomorrow. Without a doubt, sell the stove, use the setaside “funeral money,” withdraw the silver and gold coins hidden in the mattress (or in some other secret place), mortgage the milk cow—don’t hesitate, but come. Why come? The Official Guide to the World’s Columbian Exposition offered an answer other than celebrating the “discovery of America.” Primarily to illustrate American progress, the United States appropriately extends the hand of fellowship and hospitality to all other nations already represented on her soil. It will be a universal congress, which is no respecter of geographical boundary, race, color, party or sex. The Columbian Exposition is a tender to the Old World of the hospitalities of the New—a commingling of the Asiatic and European nations with the seventeen republics of the Western Hemisphere.

Well, maybe. Nevertheless, the exposition did not reach those lofty goals, particularly in relation to race, color, and sex, but neither did America, which was being showcased in Chicago. Anyway, come they did, and by the fair’s end perhaps as many as twentyseven million people, including many foreigners, had come to see the sights. The real number of first-time visitors will never be known, as many came twice, three times, five times, or more. When they finished, they had walked many a hot and humid mile and were usually exhausted (to walk the perimeter of the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building alone was 5,280 feet). The Rand, McNally & Company’s A Week at the Fair explained to its readers that “the ‘White City’ is a city of magnificent distances, and in spite of all the elevated railroads, steamboats, gondolas, rolling-chairs, and other aids to locomotion within the grounds, a visitor will be tired out when night comes.” Tired they would be, if they set about to see everything and do everything that was crowded into 1,037 acres. Or, as fair officials proudly boasted, “nearly four times the space of any previous exposition, while the number of square feet under the roof—over 5,000,000—is nearly twice as much as the greatest exposition of the past.” It was colossal, stretching nearly two and a half miles north to south. The total floor space of the buildings and livestock sheds covered 199.7 acres, with the massive Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building taxing the visitor’s walking energy with 30.5 acres of exhibits. When adding in the gallery space, the total came to 44 acres, or, if laid flat, nearly six baseball fields. Foreign exhibitors offered their displays in 1,420,027 square feet of space, topped by American exhibitors, who had 1,787,263 square feet for the sightseer to tour, ponder, and marvel over.


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Not only in size did these dimensions dwarf previous efforts. With all the restaurants, cafes, and lunch counters scattered throughout the grounds, nearly sixty thousand people could be fed at one time. No one need wait very long. Writers were beside themselves when trying to describe the place for readers and visitors, as were those folks who came, saw, and returned home to tell their friends. The exhibits at the Exposition cover a wider range and are far more numerous than were ever before gathered together. The whole world is interested, and all the nations of the earth participate. From far-away India, Burmah, Siam, China, Japan, Persia, islands of the Pacific, Australia, Tasmania, Egypt, Turkey, and the strange lands of mysterious and almost unknown Africa come attractions of interesting character. All the European nations display great interest in Exposition, and all have given the most practical evidence of their unqualified support and cooperation. (A Week at the Fair 1893)


Here, for all to see, was America of the past, of the present, and, optimistically, of the future, surrounded by the best of the world of 1893. America had reached a watershed decade in its history. Although that fact was not generally recognized yet, there were some people who sensed it might be true, and writers were speculating about the country’s role in the future. It had been fewer than thirty years ago, when the guns fell silent at Appomattox and throughout the other battlefronts, as the bloody Civil War came to an end. Only seventeen years past, the boy general of that war, George Armstrong Custer, and five companies of the Seventh cavalry had met their fate at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, while the rest of America celebrated the centennial of the nation’s birth. Seven years before, during a strike for the eight-hour day, a terrorist threw a bomb in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, indicating not all was well in the country. Before the riot ended, 7 lay dead and more than 110 people were wounded. A brief three years earlier, the tragedy of Wounded Knee left some 200 Sioux men, women, and children killed. Meanwhile, electricity and the telephone changed Americans’ lives forever, as did mass-produced manufactured goods and the Wards and Sears catalogues. New medical practices, faster transportation (railroads went almost everywhere now), educational opportunities, and a host of new inventions slowly improved the quality of life. Urbanization raced ahead, while the rural “rube and hick” became the butt of jokes and vaudeville. The future lay with bustling, growing urban America and not Jefferson’s backbone of America, the small farmer. The cities might symbolize “sin” to some Americans, but they also offered the best transportation, libraries, schools, hospitals, theaters, stores, skyscrapers, job opportunities, and industrialization that touched everything and everybody. So Americans and immigrants, still mostly from northern Europe, crowded together in the city, while the well-to-do headed for the quiet and harmonious suburbs.

Come, Come, Come to the Fair

Opportunities beckoned folks to come to the city, without question, but crime, slums, tenements, traffic congestion, poverty, uncollected garbage, epidemics, and a variety of urban ills confronted them at nearly every turn. Some said the cities represented America’s future. A stark future, indeed, others responded. Out on the farm lay a different host of problems. Overproduction, debt, isolation, bleak prospects in small farm villages, and drought, combined with the fear of being left behind in “modern America” and politically ignored in Washington, described the farmers’ lot. Railroads made money, banks made money, mail-order companies made money, factories made money, but their rural customers barely stayed in business. Sometimes, in the face of insurmountable debt, farmers went out of business entirely. This led to revolt, first through the Farmers’ Alliances, then, in the 1890s, with the People’s Party, better known as the Populists. These political mavericks advocated a host of radical reforms to cure the nation’s problems, but the older political parties were generally unmoved. Without question, western and midwestern farmers found themselves in a depression as the 1880s ended. Pioneer mother and fiery orator Mary Lease challenged her listeners, “What you farmers need to do is to raise less corn and more Hell.” They did, and their cause was nearing high tide when the fair opened. Nevertheless, many took time out to visit Chicago and its exposition. Western silver miners, who felt equally betrayed and abandoned by Washington—and the world, for that matter—joined the riled-up farmers. One after another, countries were abandoning the bimetal standard (gold and silver) for the gold standard. Gold had a stable price, roughly $20 per ounce, but silver did not. The price of an ounce of silver, in fact, had collapsed since the 1870s, from $1.35 an ounce down to around $.50 an ounce. And that was for refined silver, not the ore coming from the mines. Thus those “wild-eyed” miners joined the Populists in the western silver-mining states to present a united front against their “mortal enemies” in the East, bankers (foreign and American), industrialists, creditors of all stripes (particularly lenders and banks from non-western states), and politicians, who seemed to oppose their interests and, therefore, their future. It did not help public confidence when the country, by April 1893, tumbled into an economic panic. It only grew worse, not better, despite early optimism to the contrary. Within a month, just after the fair opened, the stock market collapsed, banks started to fail, and other companies and businesses teetered on the brink. The shock waves of the financial panic might have derailed the fair, particularly because foreign investors uneasily watched what was transpiring. Then a group of wealthy Chicagoans stepped in to guarantee all foreign fair exhibit deposits and saved the day. Chicago bankers and leading capitalists further purchased fair bonds, but management continued to watch apprehensively over debts and hoped to at least break even.


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The United States Treasury helped out the fair by coining a special fifty-cent piece ($2.5 million worth). The exposition corporation sold them, as souvenirs, for a dollar each, which turned a nifty profit to help pay expenses. They quickly became a popular item among fairgoers. The Remington Typewriter Company purchased the first ten thousand dollars’ worth of the special coins and displayed them in their exhibit in the Manufactures Building. Amazingly, it happened! The fair, after paying off its debts and paying its investors their money, ultimately made a profit. It had been close, but the crowded last six weeks of the fair saved the financial day. This, then, was America when the World’s Columbian Exposition opened in May of 1893—confident, worried, growing, declining, profiting, debt burdened, modernizing, fearful, industrializing, slum ridden, living the good life, trapped by poverty, hurling blame, accepting congratulations, looking back, looking ahead— all in all, a fascinating time. A cold, misty first day of May dawned, with the threat of rain hanging in the air. Crews had been working desperately to get the fair ready during the previous day and continued their efforts into the night. Landscaping and construction crews raced to finish their work, and exhibitors continued to move in. Some called it a miracle that the fair opened on time, but it scraped through. Opening ceremonies were concluded when newly inaugurated president Grover Cleveland, after a few brief remarks, pressed the “gilded electric button.” Instantly, fountains sprayed, flags unfurled, machinery powered into motion, and lots of electric lights flashed on; meanwhile, a warship in the harbor fired “thunderous salutes,” joined by hundreds of lake crafts’ steam whistles. The estimated crowd of two hundred thousand excitedly and lustily cheered and applauded, as they stood in mud and water up to their ankles. Then, mud and all, they excitedly started moving around the still unfinished grounds. As Julian Ralph wrote in Chicago and the World’s Fair (1893), “One cannot be among them [the displays, buildings, and exhibits], and with the architects and artists who are at work upon them, without feeling that one is upon novel ground . . . that the scene is an artists’ festival, and that the entire work is like a materialized dream.” Neither delays, nor inclement weather, nor a host of other problems and setbacks had prevented this exciting day. Fortunately, opening day happened on schedule. However, it took a lot of hard work, planning, overcoming a multitude of difficulties, and a good bit of luck to see construction through in the winter of 1892–1893. The winter, as noted earlier, had been a harsh, cold, snowy one, which hampered final construction, repairs of wind-damaged buildings, painting, landscaping, and general preparedness. Then came a windy, rainy, hail-battered April, which left exhibitors reluctant to allow displays and goods to be put in place. Now, with less than a month to go, some critics said the fair would never be ready on time.

Come, Come, Come to the Fair

But it was and got help from massive promotion throughout the country and the world during 1893. Endless news releases went out, in fourteen languages, to newspapers and magazines, and even “stunts” captured readers’ attention. Railroads, hotels, and travel agents distributed maps, pamphlets, and circulars. It seemed impossible that anybody would have missed, or failed to notice, news about the exposition. During the fair, magazines, newspapers, and writers continued the informational barrage about the Chicago “extravaganza.” All things considered, everything went amazingly well. Visitors came from everywhere, home and abroad, including single miners from the recently shut down mines on Minnesota’s Mesabi iron range. As the Vermilion Iron Journal (August 3, 1893) depressingly said, “Every outgoing train carries a large number. A few have gone to the World’s Fair.” For the footloose, the fair proved a distraction from the hard times a-coming. The people arrived those first three months of the exposition, although not in the numbers desired. Starting in August, however, the daily totals steadily improved. To lure more folks and enhance their experience, the fair sponsored many specific days to honor states and nations. A number of organizations held their meetings at the fair, such as the Amateur Athletic Club, Patriotic Order Sons of America, and various missionaries. Dog, poultry, and horse shows, sportsmen’s contests (including a twelve-day angling tournament), “handicap athletic field games,” and a tremendous variety of musical concerts tempted others to come to the fair. The attendance record came on October 9, the twenty-second anniversary of the day that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow reportedly kicked over the lantern and started the big Chicago fire. Whether the bovine should be blamed, no question exists that a record seven hundred thousand people crammed into the fairgrounds that day. Fourteen thousand feet of fireworks thrilled visitors that evening, featuring an exploding diorama of Chicago’s great fire—everything from the cow kicking over the lamp to the city in ruins (Official Guide). Upon arriving in Chicago, the Official Guide warned tourists: The stranger arriving in Chicago for the first time, who is in doubt as to the course to be pursued, on leaving the train should consult the uniformed depot agent, or depot policeman, who may be depended upon for reliable information. Hansom cabs, coupes, hacks, carriages, etc. have stands outside every depot. Before entering a vehicle make an arrangement with the driver, so that there may be no misunderstanding.

Safely navigating that first hurdle still left newcomers needing to find a place to stay. Some fourteen hundred “hotels” and boarding houses stood ready for them, or so the exposition management claimed. Rates ranged widely, from a dollar to twenty-five dollars per day, with the highest rates in the business heart of Chicago. Food expenses depended on individual taste, appetite, and pocketbook. Both the


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town and the fair offered a variety of places to tempt everyone—and everyone’s wallet. The author of A Week at the Fair piously stated, however, that “ladies are not supposed to go to the chophouses.” He recommended the “magnificent restaurants” at the great department stores, including Marshall Field & Co. To reach the fair, the choices varied, from the elevated train (fifteen to thirty minutes), cable cars (about an hour), and the steamboat (forty-five minutes). The last was promoted as a “delightful way to go,” because the company treated passengers “with band music and a panoramic picture of the best built and busiest city in the world.” The most “leisurely and luxurious way” was driving to the park, “by way of magnificent Michigan Avenue” (A Week at the Fair 1893). It cost fifty cents to enter the fair at the gate. Children under age twelve gained admittance for twenty-five cents, and those under six enjoyed free admission. This allowed entrance to everything except two exhibits which charged a fee, one being the Colorado Cliff Dwellers exhibit. One other fee annoyed many—a two-dollar charge for handheld cameras and “no tripods.” This gave the official photographer nearly a monopoly on the best photographs, which greatly upset the camera crowd. There existed some concern that the fifty-cent admission price would prevent a large portion of the laboring classes from attending the fair. Numerous associations and railroads developed group excursions and package plans which helped somewhat, but the price remained a serious problem for poorer people. Estimates as to how long it would take fairgoers to see everything ranged upward from three weeks, if they “walked at a fast pace” over nearly 150 miles. Depending, of course, on which one of the gates was entered, a pictorial slice of the fair opened before them. At the very north end stood the state buildings, with Illinois and California the largest and, in the states’ eyes, the grandest. The fourteen major buildings were gathered around the lagoon, except the Palace of Fine Arts Building next to the North Pond. Journeying down the west side, the Woman’s Building faced the entrance to the Midway. Then came the Horticulture and Transportation buildings, both of which looked toward the Wooded Island with its Japanese tea garden. Crowded at the south end were the Mines and Mining, Electricity, Machinery, and Agriculture buildings. Turning north around the Lagoon, the huge Manufactures and Liberal Arts, U.S. Government, and Fisheries buildings completed the walk. One was not finished, however, for scattered about were numerous other small buildings, including the Choral, Oil, “Casino,” Forestry, and Anthropology buildings. Statues seemingly popped up everywhere, including a buffalo, a bear, a moose, horses, elk, lions, cherubs, and the more famous Statue of the Republic. A variety of statuary encircled the Main Basin, featuring the Columbian fountain, which honored the man of the hour, Columbus, and his voyage. It proved a workout to see it all, with fatigue usually overcoming the visiting folk.

Come, Come, Come to the Fair

Numerous writers mentioned how tired and cross some people became after hours of walking. Understandably, one became tired and overwhelmed by the exhibits of the nearly one hundred nations and their colonies that participated in one way or another. To see them all took days of intense walking and viewing, a feat well beyond the time most fairgoers could give to the project. Hamlin Garland and his brother found out that the fair’s immensity and magnitude could overwhelm visitors. When their parents finally arrived, the sons so hoped that this would be the “richest experience of their lives.” As Garland wrote later, “With merciless enthusiasm we hurried them to the fair.” Purchasing a “wheeled chair” to save their mother from fatigue, the family hastened off, walking so rapidly “from one stupendous vista to another we saw in a few hours many of the inside exhibits and all of the finest exteriors,” plus the Midway. It proved too much eventually for their mother, who exhaustedly pleaded, “take me home.” Garland finally realized that “her life had been spent among homely small things, and these gorgeous scenes dazzled her, over whelmed her” (Garland 1928). Like many others, however, when the Garlands returned home, where they were untroubled by the magnitude and strangeness of the city and the fair, their newfound experiences became much more pleasing. “They now relived in pleasant retrospect all the excitement and bustle of the crowds, all the bewildering sights and sounds of the Midway” (Garland 1928). Not just the distance walked, but the variety and number of exhibits must have overwhelmed many other visitors, as well. Farmers enjoyed the Sandwich Enterprise Company’s array of windmills and cultivators, while others looked at the latest electric fixtures for the home. It certainly did overwhelm the fair officials, who decided to make a “uniform” system of awards. Concluding that they had “medals enough to go around,” fair officials declared that no “differentiation” would be made among the grand prize, silver, and bronze awards and honorable mention. That decision had been reached to avoid exhibitors’ appeals and dissatisfaction that had characterized previous international juried exhibitions. What the exhibitors thought about this was not recorded. Surely, though, one would have felt better receiving the grand prize than an honorable mention. The New York Times, despite its city’s disappointment over losing the fair, gave its readers a sincere evaluation on April 30, as opening day approached. A few of the comments, with a taste of Victorian literary flourish, follow: In the “White City” the aesthetic reigns. The question arises whether the expenditure was worthwhile. It might as well be asked whether it was worthwhile for Columbus to have discovered America. There will be much to see, and a view of the grounds and buildings alone is worth a trip to Chicago.


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And that all may feel at home, America has provided for their reception a park on the shores of an inland sea which combines in its varied moods the majesty of the ocean and limpid beauty of a sun-kissed pool. America extends a cordial hand to the inhabitants of every clime.

All that was fine, but the paper could not resist a dig at its midwestern rival. If Columbus in his caravels could start now from a wharf on the river in the interior of darkest Chicago—smoke-begrimed and mud-stained city—on a voyage of discovery, and should land on the shore of Lake Michigan at Jackson Park he would not be more astonished as well as happy to have escaped with his life, than he was when he saw the outlines of San Salvador.

Urban jealousy might have driven such an opinion, although grounds for it definitely existed. Chicagoans much preferred the observation of Julian Ralph in a magazine article. He “rightly regarded [that] Chicago will be the main exhibit of the World’s Columbian Exposition.” As an unnamed “noted English journalist” exclaimed, “She is one of the wonders of the World.” To support such valued evaluations, A Week at the Fair boasted:


In transportation facilities alone the World’s Fair City would make a singularly substantial showing. Puny indeed appear the cities of the entire civilized world when compared with one wherein thirty-seven railroads, with an aggregate of 76,865 miles of track, enter and discharge passengers.

To assist the multitude of visitors (most of whom probably did come by train), keep order, and patrol the grounds, the exposition organized and retained, under its direct control, the Columbian Guards, “strong active men of good character, under strict discipline, somewhat similar to that of a soldier in active service.” Some two thousand of them patrolled the fair in their natty, blue uniforms. Visitors were assured that a “guard is a guide in every sense of the word” and whose advice “the traveler may safely and surely abide.” They had “police powers and duties” but had no connection with the city police department (A Week at the Fair 1893). Also about the grounds were the city police and police stations, “and here are located patrol wagons which enable officers to quickly reach any point. These wagons are strongly built and are drawn by fleet horses kept always in the very finest condition for service.” Chicago’s finest proved to be no less active than the more colorfully uniformed guards (A Week at the Fair 1893). Together, the two security forces monitored fairgoers as they walked the grounds to be sure that they remained free of nuisance peddlers and no one snuck in. They also kept on the lookout for confidence men. All told, the grounds were well policed, and visitors were assured a safe and secure visit, a claim that neighboring Chicago could not make.

Come, Come, Come to the Fair

To further add to visitors’ comfort, an abundance of filtered, pure drinking water was supplied free (every water fountain being equipped with a “Pasteur filter”). A glass of “Hygeia Waukesha” water, apparently with some “magical qualities,” cost only a penny. Fifteen hundred free “toilet rooms and closets” resolved another problem. In addition, for those who did not want to be with the “common herd,” an “equal number of lavatories handsomely fitted up” were at their service for a five-cent charge (A Week at the Fair 1893). A glimpse of the future came with the disposal of waste in the sanitary system. Sewage, converted into solids, was burned and then utilized as road cover and fertilizer. Compared to what generally happened in large and small cities, this proved to be a revelation. Providing for visitors’ informational needs loomed large as one of management’s goals. For instance, the daily Columbian was sold for five cents every morning—an eight-page newspaper containing the first page of several Chicago newspapers, including the Times and Tribune. It also offered the day’s “official orders and programs,” plus other information, and so the reader received the best of both worlds. As mentioned, tramping about the fair could quickly be a most tiring experience. However, the fair came to the rescue here as well. Both guides and wheeled chairs were awaiting to be hired or rented. Not only that, but the “interior waterway” throughout the grounds was equipped with “speedy small boats for pleasure and transportation.” Every “principal building” could be reached by water, with the visitor arriving at an “ornamental landing for each” (A Week at the Fair 1893). It seemed that the exposition management overlooked nothing, and one would find that to be a fair assessment. Without Columbus bumping into the new world, there would not have been an exposition. Not to be found remiss on this subject, the fair honored him in a variety of ways. The most “moving,” perhaps, was Spain’s contribution, joined by the host country. Replicas of the three caravels—Santa Maria, Pinta, and Niña— were built in Spain. The Santa Maria was paid for by Spain, the other two by the United States. The “Columbus” fleet started for America from Cadiz, Spain, in February 1893, arriving in Havana a month later, “after a safe but not a very comfortable passage” (Appelbaum 1980). Following appearances in naval reviews at Norfolk and New York, the fleet sailed up the St. Lawrence, across the Great Lakes, and on to Chicago. One of the exciting events of July 12 was the arrival of a Viking ship, which Capt. Magnus Andersen sailed from Norway to Chicago. Scandinavians and others cheered the achievement of the crew in a replica constructed along the lines of a Viking ship excavated in Norway back in 1880. Maybe the Vikings had beaten Columbus to America? That thought would have been un-American in 1893!


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Un-American, yes, for what the country hoped to display in 1893. Columbus was the linchpin of the exposition. After all, the Official Guide put into words what many Americans felt about their country over the last generation. It is a statement that perhaps shows most clearly the pride and optimism of Americans, as they prepared to play host to the world to exhibit where they had been, where they were, and where they hoped to go. What else really was the World’s Columbian Exposition for? Wonders have been achieved in every branch of thought in every line of trade. We have been at peace with the world. Most fitting is it, therefore, that the people of the greatest nation on the continent discovered by Christopher Columbus, should lead in the celebration of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of that event. All is peace and prosperity from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. . . . It is a different peace, however—the peace that has grown out of the advance of civilization, the high cultivation of human thought, the more ennobling development of human energy.


View of the Grand Basin and Court of Honor looking west from the Peristyle. The Statue of the Republic, an icon of the exposition, is visible rising from the Grand Basin. The statue was sixty-five feet high and stood on a thirty-five-foot-high pedestal. The statue was made of plaster surfaced with gold leaf. Most of the major buildings were located on the basin. Facing the statue is the domed Administration Building. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA II/5.

At 1:30 in the afternoon on October 22, 1892, more than 140,000 people congregated in the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building for the official dedication ceremonies. The official program for the dedication included music, prayers, poetry, and speeches. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/EAPA II/137.

View of the Administration Building from the northeast corner of the Agricultural Building. The Administration Building served as headquarters for the chief officers of the exposition. There were two promenades high up on the building, which provided good views of the fairgrounds. The upper promenade had gas torches that lit the building at night along with electric lights which outlined the building. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA II/4.

View of the Court of Honor from the Administration Building. The Court of Honor was the central focus of the fair. In the foreground is the MacMonnies, or Columbian, Fountain that was made in Paris. On the right is the Agricultural Building. In the distance is the Peristyle, with the sixty-five-foot Statue of the Republic in front of it. Beyond the Peristyle is Lake Michigan. On the left is the colossal Manufactures Building, the largest building in the world at the time. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA III/1.

The two thousand men in the Columbian Guard, headquartered in the Administration Building, comprised the internal police force for the exposition. Their uniforms were blue with black braid and brass buttons, and they carried swords. From The Dream City: A Portfolio of Photographic Views of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

View of the Mines and Mining Building taken from the lagoon looking south. This was the first world’s fair at which mining was given its own building, thus placing it on an equal footing with manufacturing, agriculture, and other industrial pursuits. The Mines and Mining Building was located on one of the choicest locations on the exposition grounds, because, in 1893, mining ranked third in production among the industries in the United States. This building was called “Aladdin’s Cave glorified.” C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division.

Interior view of the Mines and Mining Building looking north. On the right side of the aisle were located the state and territorial exhibits, with the foreign exhibits located to the left. The Colorado Exhibit was located to the right of the Montana Exhibit, just outside the lower right portion of the photograph. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division.

Directly beyond the obelisk is the South Canal, which separates the Machinery Hall on the left from the Agriculture Building on the right. In the far distance is the dome of the Illinois State Building, which was modeled after the state capitol in Springfield. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA III/6.

The Woman’s Building, looking southwest across the lagoon, was the only building at the fair designed by a woman architect, Sophia Hayden of Boston. She was paid one thousand dollars for her design, while the male architects received ten thousand dollars for theirs. It was erected “for the special use of women and her work” and was located just east of the Midway. The building contained a model hospital, kindergarten, and kitchen, along with exhibits by groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the LaSalle Seminary for young women. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA III/45.

The Agriculture Building was one of the major exposition buildings located on the Great Basin. The building had exhibits that included grains and grasses, breads and sugars, machinery (including the McCormick reaper), and displays from agriculture schools. Colorado had a pavilion in this building, exhibiting many kinds of fruits and vegetables, native grasses, and forage plants, the last of which were in the exhibits of the Colorado Agricultural College and state commission. The extreme west gallery was devoted to brewing, where all the large brewing companies in the country were represented; there was an exhibit of bottled beer from Denver in this area. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA IV/40.

Sedan chairs were a popular way to traverse the extensive grounds of the fair. The chairs provided shade from the sun and cost seventy-five cents per hour. Courtesy Library of Congress.

View of the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building from the White Star Line Building looking southeast. On the left side of the photograph is the Japanese Ho-o-den on the wooded island and the Elk’s Bridge, which crosses the lagoon and leads to the White Star Building. The Manufactures Building was three times as large as St. Peters in Rome, and six baseball fields could fit on the floor space. Many foreign nations, as well as the United States, had exhibits in the Manufactures building. Several thousand American companies also had a wide range of exhibits here, ranging from machinery and musical instruments, to textiles, office equipment, jewelry, and watches and clocks. In addition, there were educational exhibits, including one from the University of Colorado. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA IV/71.

The Peristyle had forty-eight columns, one for each of the states and territories. Visitors who arrived at the pier took the movable sidewalk to the Columbian Arch at the center of the Peristyle to enter the exposition grounds. The archway linked Lake Michigan and the Great Basin. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/EAPA II/144.

The movable sidewalk was located on a pier that extended 2,500 feet into Lake Michigan. Visitors disembarking from boats could ride the sidewalk. For five cents one could ride as long as one wanted. On hot days, visitors would ride and even sleep on the moving chairs in order to catch the cool breeze from the lake and to rest tired feet. The sidewalk could accommodate 5,610 people. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA IV/49.

Front view of the Horticulture Building, with pond in front containing lotus and water lilies. This was the first time a separate building was erected at an exposition to house horticultural displays. The hall was home to all types of plants, including flowers, fruits, shrubs, palms, ferns, and bamboos. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA V/59.

The 264-foot-high Ferris wheel was the most popular attraction on the Midway. It was invented by George Washington Gale Ferris to rival the Paris Exposition’s Eiffel Tower. The ride cost fifty cents and had thirty-six cars (the size of railroad cars), each of which carried forty people. Each ride made two complete revolutions. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/ CDA III/97.

One of the most popular destinations along the Midway was the replica of a Cairo street and Egyptian temple. There were sixty-two shops along this street where visitors could purchase “bum-bum” or “gypsy candy” and have a ride on a camel. People working at the Cairo Street exhibit wanted to make money at the fair, so American visitors were treated well. Achmet, the famous donkey boy of Cairo, and his friends would run up and down the street chanting “Yanka-Doodoo.” C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA X/54.

The Irish Village included a reproduction of the Blarney Castle, along with stone cottages with thatched straw roofs. Lace-making, knitting, embroidering, and spinning were demonstrated. There was also a model dairy, a blacksmith, and a woodcarver, in addition to other artisans. Visitors were all given a piece of “genuine sod” from Ireland. In the castle, for ten cents, one could kiss the Blarney Stone. Charles Armstrong of Aspen decided not to kiss the stone. “It looks like a million people slobbered over it.” C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA X/5.

The Danse du Ventre, or “belly dance,” which was performed on the Midway by Cairo dancers, raised the indignation of the Board of Lady Managers, who tried to have it stopped. “No ordinary Western woman looked on these with anything but horror.” The performances continued because they were so popular with men, with thousands going to see the controversial show. From The Dream City: A Portfolio of Photographic Views of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl. Below: Buffalo Bill was denied space on both the fairgrounds and the Midway for his Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World, so he leased instead a fifteen-acre parcel of land two blocks south of the Midway. A 1,800-seat grandstand was built on the site. The show opened April 3, 1893, a month ahead of the fair itself, with shows twice daily at 3 and 8 p.m., seven days a week, “Rain or Shine.” Twenty-five thousand people a day visited the Wild West Show and not a single performance was canceled during the show’s 186-day run. At the end of July, the show offered “Waif’s Day,” which provided underprivileged Chicago children with a free train ride to the Wild West grounds, free entrance to the show grounds and the show, and free candy and ice cream. Fifteen thousand children attended “Waif’s Day.” Courtesy Buffalo Bill Museum, Golden, Colorado.

Above: Annie Oakley was one of the main attractions of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. She went out of her way to make her on-site accommodations feel like home. She entertained friends and children of her coworkers in her carpeted dressing tent, which was bordered with her flower garden. She traveled with many of her personal items, including her books, banjo, rocking chair, guns, embroidery stand, and dressing table. Courtesy Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming; Original Buffalo Bill Museum Collection; P.69.73. Victorian sentimentality was displayed no better than by the dewy-eyed calf. Hopefully, it helped sell shoes and boots and attract visitors to the Shoe and Leather Building at the fairgrounds’ southeast end. Over nine hundred American shoe and leather companies displayed their goods and a variety of hides from cattle to walrus to kangaroo. Courtesy Duane Smith.

Chapter 3

Surprise to the World

The autumnal sky is blue like June’s, The wooded isle is sere below Reflected in the still lagoons Beneath the full moon’s brilliant glow. Around the wondrous buildings show Their sculpture roofs and domes and towers, Ten thousand lamps blaze in the jet Of water, shadowed nook, and tree; Above, the stars again are met. This is a heavenly fantasy— Ah, that this dream should ever cease to be. And lo! Ho white, how glorious These fanes and temples now appear; How pure a mood is now o’er us. —Edgar Lee Masters, “The White City”

a fair to honor the discovery of the new world—what a wonderful idea. Coloradans had been well aware of the possibility of a world’s fair. Since 1889, they had read about cities angling to gain the honor and speculated about what Colorado’s possible role might be. Then speculation and rumor became fact. “The people of this cosmopolitan city have been granted the privilege of a great fair.” The location was chosen


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because of its “proximity to the business center of Chicago,” yet in its natural state, it “is most picturesque and beautiful.” Thus, the Aspen Weekly Times, January 21, 1893, hailed the opening of the long expected year. Whatever the state’s role, the Leadville Chronicle (July 15, 1890), confidently stated, “you can depend upon it that Colorado will be all right at the World’s Fair. The exhibit which she will make will be a surprise to the world.” The paper selfassuredly and boastfully went on to claim that it would prove Colorado “is more than an immense mining camp with nothing to show but mineral.” In its own opinion, “when Colorado comes to make the exhibit the world will be taught differently.” The pace of articles picked up steadily as 1893 neared. Newspaper coverage and comments, much as the exhibit itself, would be “large and complete” and “illustrative of the great progress Colorado has made.” It seemed almost to be a campaign to boost civic pride and, at the same time, tease Coloradans about this wonderful event that was about to happen. Maybe they would like to go see the fair. Merchants quickly cashed in on the growing excitement. A Fairplay realtor promised a “free first class roundtrip ticket” to the fair for those who purchased a lot in the new Broadway Heights addition. Meanwhile, the Colorado legislature wrestled with the problem of finances in depressingly worsening economic times. With the price of silver steadily dropping, Colorado’s primary economic pillar trembled on the brink of disaster. In spite of all this going on, the legislature, with Governor John Routt’s prodding, established a board of world’s fair managers and appropriated twenty thousand dollars in 1891, thirty thousand the next year, and fifty thousand in 1893 to cover Colorado’s fair expenses. At the time, Routt and others thought this to be a small amount for the “magnitude of the work to be done.” Their concern, nonetheless, did not rest entirely with the legislative budgeted figure. As the governor pointed out in his January 1893 message, “Unfortunately, however, only a small portion of the appropriation has been paid, because of the fact the appropriations were made by the last General Assembly in excess of the revenue, and, this being one of the last appropriations, it was not available” (Rocky Mountain News). To add to the tension, time was running out for erecting the state building on the ground assigned to Colorado, which the Chicago fair managers warned would be forfeited if delay continued. At this critical juncture “some public spirited [Colorado] gentlemen” rode to the rescue. Again, to turn to Routt’s message: Learning of the situation of affairs, [they] generously advanced the sum of about $30,000, to enable the board to erect a building for Colorado headquarters, taking certificates therefor, relying upon the patriotism and justice of your honorable body [legislature] to reimburse them for this generous advance. (A Report on the Resources 1893)

Surprise to the World

Fortunately, this had happened the year before and the building, though small compared to other states, neared completion. Under fair policy, state buildings maintained as state fair headquarters would be under state control. Colorado planned to do this, using their building as a hospitality spot and to feature exhibits that would “best illustrate and exemplify” its natural resources, “as well as historical and archaeological features.” Individual counties also raised money. Washington County’s board of county commissioners, for example, in October 1892 levied a small tax to collect and aid in creating an agricultural display. Why? According to the Akron Weekly Pioneer Press (October 2, 1892), the “county is interested in the growth and success of said undertaking.” It would definitely benefit this county that had only recently been created (1887) and was in need of publicity. While all this was happening, Colorado had appointed its officials for the exposition. These included a chief for the mining department, state commissioners, alternates, and so forth. Colorado was well organized by the time the fair opened. In the meantime, the state continued to overcome hurdles as it tried to get ready for the exposition’s opening. Collections to place in the exhibit had to be gathered and, for the past year, collectors in each county had been busy at the task. For example, Rod King, in Lake County, gathered 4,500 pounds of different ores and shipped them to Denver. Here they rested along with collections from other counties, awaiting funds to ship them to Chicago. Nor were women a step behind. The legislature appointed a “lady manager to the state fair board,” along with three women field workers, at a salary of one hundred dollars per month, to canvass the state for exhibits. Also, Gunnison County, and probably others as well, had a woman county agent for the fair, who diligently worked to get an exhibit of marble to publicize the Colorado stone. An appeal had been sent out to women throughout the state as early as May 1891 asking for suggestions “as to the best methods of showing others what we can do, and are doing, as bread-winners and workers in this ‘New West.’” Colorado, on the verge of voting for woman’s suffrage, was one of few states to give women as large a role. With time running out, the Colorado fair board of fourteen managers (seven from Denver, six from other towns on the eastern slope, and only one from the western slope) struggled to get matters resolved. Much remained to be done to “make any showing for our state at this great exposition.” After a great deal of effort, fund raising, and finally securing the “lowest possible” shipping rates, two railroad carloads full of exhibits left Denver for Chicago in early March 1893. Other cars were standing on the sidetrack and being loaded “every day.” At least five carloads eventually departed for Chicago. The state board, at last, raised $60,000 to attend to “all matters.” Of this, $10,500 went to the mining department, $10,000 for the manufactures exhibit, $6,500 to horticultural, $6,000 for historical exhibits, and $5,000 to the women’s


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department. The rest went for “contingent expenses” ($12,000), building and grounds ($5,500), and the secretarial department ($4,500), which included a small amount for the several assistants, one in each department. While all this was going on, articles appeared in Colorado newspapers telling readers about the progress being made in Chicago and the great and wonderful things that would happen and be seen there. All told, it whetted their interest and, no doubt, got some excited to go. It was at this point they confronted a major problem, the railroad passenger rates to Chicago. That proved an exasperating problem, one that had lingered in the background for months, then came to the forefront after the fair opened. Railroads were increasing disliked because of their monopolistic tendencies, rates, and “treatment” of westerners. Grangers, Populists, and others had railed against them for years, and now railroads “conspired” against the fair. The railroads held the key to reaching Chicago in comfort and in style. A day or two from Denver was all the time it took. They might hold the key, but to most Coloradans, getting there proved to be an expensive proposition. From all over the state protests mounted in April, reached a crescendo in May and early June, and then faded away, probably because of the hard economic times. Before summer’s end, one after another of the railroads fell into receivership. Prior to that happening, Coloradans, nonetheless, had their say and vented their feelings. The Aspen Weekly Times, for instance, in its April 22 issue, felt that “railroads could well afford a $30 rate” and predicted that we “may see a railroad rate war.” Petitions were already circulating in Denver for lower rates, “now let the people of Aspen and other cities agitate the subject.” It will, the editor, predicted “bear good fruit.” The Denver Republican (June 8, 1893) also complained that the rates “are altogether too high.” Unless “they are reduced they will prevent a great many Colorado people from going to the exposition. This would be a wrong and a misfortune, for the full benefit of the fair will not be realized by the country if a large percentage of the working people are prevented from seeing it.” What were the rates? Depending on where one started the trip, they ranged from forty to about sixty dollars. Times were not auspicious for the railroads to reduce rates, however. The Silverton Standard, though, did not blame the local “bad boy,” the Denver & Rio Grande. This railroad was, the editor pointed out, “holding out for a low fair” all the way to Chicago. The trouble was that the D&RG did not go beyond Denver. Nor did the editor like what he described as the “hold up games practiced in Chicago.” “Few can afford to go if the railroad fares are anyways high” (May 20, 1893). The Saguache Chronicle, Rocky Mountain Sun, New Castle News, and Mancos Times, among others, all joined in the cry for lower rates. The Times (June 30, 1893) pointed its editorial pen at the railroad managers, who “are in the business

Surprise to the World

not for sentiment but for money.” Trying to make the most money, a “reduced” rate from Mancos to Chicago cost $62.50 in mid-June, which left out, as the paper pointed out, everyone “except people of easy circumstances.” Even in the best of times, miners made $3 to $3.50 a day, teachers $50 to $60 per month, and store clerks $20 to $25 per month. Added to this, the recent financial crash had become a full-bound depression by August—a survey of Colorado towns and counties featured reports of the general feeling as “gloomy, dark, disheartening, depressing, deplorable, and desperate” (Bureau of Colorado Labor Statistics)—and one can understand the frustrations with the railroads. In defense of the railroads, the Burlington, at least, worked hard to promote the exposition. It promised “new and superior passenger equipment” and an “unrivaled ability to offer the best service and fastest time.” “The trip is a good preparation for the wonders awaiting one at the fair.” As the fair neared its closing in October, rail ticket prices finally started to go down. The Burlington, for example, advertised “on all of the famous World’s Fair Flyers” that it was cutting its price to twenty-three dollars from Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs, with only one night on the road. At the same time, the Union Pacific and several other lines lowered theirs to about thirty-eight dollars. “Do not wait too long,” they advertised, “the great World’s Fair will be closed in a few weeks.” For most Coloradans, however, the warning proved too little and the rate reduction too late, for times had gone from bad to worse. Not everything planned for the fair worked out quite as Coloradans had either hoped or imagined they would. For example, Leadville and its cyclorama (the brainchild of mining man Albert A. Blow) sounded like a wonderful idea. Cycloramas, those post–Civil War entertainment spectaculars, had captured Americans’ attention, so the idea naturally surfaced about one from Colorado for the World’s Fair. One S. S. Darby, representing a Rochester firm, appeared in Leadville in May 1891. “His idea,” as he presented it to Leadvillites in the Leadville Chronicle, “is to give a realistic exhibit of a mineral camp as it is, so graphic that when a person has been through it he can say almost with truth, ‘I have been to Leadville.’” No “dreary rows of mineral specimens,” editorialized the Leadville Daily Chronicle (May 21, 1891). “If the plan outlined is carried into effect, the mineral exhibit of Colorado will be one of the features of the world’s fair, and it is to be hoped that the powers that be will look with favor on it.” It would be an eye catcher. As planned, the “magnificent exhibit,” a cyloramic painting of Leadville, would be 40 feet high with a 470-foot circumference. Placed in an octagonal building with a glass roof, the cyclorama would portray mines, railroads, smelters, and Leadville itself. In the weeks that followed, the idea was presented to Colorado fair managers who, according to the Chronicle, apparently endorsed it enthusiastically. Said commissioner Col. R. E. Goodell, “It will be one of the features of the fair. The plans


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of the exhibit have been drawn and a number of Denver people, I understand, will take hold of the thing and push it to completion.” Not stopping there, he continued, “Distinguished artists, who have constructed the cycloramas of Gettysburg, Paris, the battle of Bull Run and others, have expressed their approval of the enterprise from an artistic standpoint, and its completion is an assured fact.” Not so fast there, Commissioner Goodell! The Chronicle (June 18, 1891) commented, “The cyclorama of Leadville should not be lost sight of. But it should begin to assume shape before long.” A month later, the paper observed again, “Don’t lose sight of the cyclorama. No scheme was ever devised better calculated to attract the attention of capitalists to the mineral wealth of Leadville.” By August, plans were being discussed to raise $10,000 with the hope that “capitalists” would be found so that there would be no cost to the taxpayer. On October 6, the Chronicle encouraged Leadville citizens to “take stock in the project” because it represented the “cheapest and most effective way to bring Leadville to millions” of people. All this wonderful advertisement would cost “$100,000 or less” and could be “moved from place to place after the fair,” promoting Leadville wherever it traveled. Even the articles of incorporation of the “Rocky Mountain Mines and Cyclorama Company” were filed with the state, showing that the principal office was in Denver and that business was carried out in Chicago. From this point on, interest in the project slipped downhill. The Chronicle (February 18, 1892) sadly observed that the “cyclorama seems to have become almost a lapsed reminiscence.” By March 17, 1892, the paper asked, “Is the cyclorama dead, or doth it sleep?” Finally, on August 24, with less than a year before the fair was to open, the editor pleaded, “the cyclorama scheme should not be lost sight of.” It was both lost sight of and dead. The cost had obviously been too much in the hard times that were settling down on a town a decade past its mining heyday. Nor would help be forthcoming from the state or its major city, which were locked into the strong possibility of an oncoming recession. Anyway, why would Denver want to use its funds to promote Leadville? In 1890, the American Underground Mining Exhibit Company was incorporated “to build an underground display mine for the purpose of exhibiting the mineral resources of the United States at the world’s fair held in Chicago” (Aspen Daily Chronicle, November 18, 1890). The list of incorporators included a number of prominent Colorado mining men such as Edward F. Browne, Jerome B. Wheeler, and Horace A. W. Tabor. While the mine will only take 125 by 200 feet of surface ground, it is proposed by sinking a shaft 500 feet deep, with six large passenger elevators, to make connection with an underground opening at that depth large enough to accommodate 8000 people. The anteroom, or corridor, it is said, will be a veritable palace, paved and lined with marble and plate glass, while in the outer doors, leading

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away from this reception room, openings will be made and ore brought from the various mines and placed in position so as to duplicate all the great mines of the country. Over 70 carloads of ore have thus far been tendered as a gift toward the display. (Aspen Daily Chronicle, November 19, 1890)

Like the cyclorama, the underground mine exhibit never came to fruition, perhaps because the prospect of flooding in an excavation five hundred feet deep so near Lake Michigan doomed the project before it began. Aspen, Leadville’s successor as Colorado’s silver queen, had busily developed plans of its own. A “Silver Queen” statue seemed a proper exhibit. As early as February 1892, discussions were underway to have the Silver Queen designed to represent the city at the fair. After deciding to go ahead with the project, organizers selected designer and artist Hiram Johnson of Pueblo to be in charge of the work. It would not be until March 21, 1893, that Aspen folk got to see their statue, with a grand unveiling and appropriate remarks by assembled dignitaries. The Aspen Daily Chronicle (March 22) was almost breathlessly headlined, “the silver queen Language Fails to Describe the Beauty of the Work.” It continued to report proudly that “no remark other than of praise was heard for the noble work of art,” but apparently not all held that view. The paper’s issue the next day noted that there existed a difference of opinion. Said one disappointed soul, “Well, I declare, the designer of this thing certainly strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel.” He wanted a prospector and his burro. Another observed, “I do not like the idea of going back to the times of ancient history for a subject.” These observations were not so, said the Times on the twenty-fifth, yet the Queen had created a bit of stir and the editor felt the need to defend her. “As a work of art it is a wonderful conception, majestic in proportions, symmetrical in form and yet a glittering mass of Aspen’s native ores, reaching to eighteen feet from the floor, its magnificent crystal covered pedestal occupying ten by twelve feet of space.” Whatever one’s opinion, at the end of March, the Silver Queen received a grand farewell, including a dance with fifty cents’ admission to help “liquidate the expense of bringing the work here.” Securely crated, she went off to Chicago and arrived safely, where, the Aspen Weekly Times (April 29) proudly reported, “the queen is in the midst of a fine mineral display from Aspen and represents the mining interests of the state she hails from.” Simply to plan for and create exhibits seemed hardly enough. There had to be material to further promote Colorado, its resources, and attractions. Thus the Agricultural Department of the Colorado exhibit published a 196-page book: A Report on the Resources and Industrial Development of Colorado: 1893, from which the quotes on the following pages were taken. From the start, it promoted everything about Colorado. The purpose was made abundantly clear in the first two pages, which listed the state’s advantages. “The combination of industries in Colorado form a very


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surprising summary of inducement for permanent residence in this State.” The reader would gain a “definite conception of the immensity and varied character of Colorado’s industry resources.” Once started it was hard to stop the writers’ enthusiasm. After all, the wheels of progress have turned rapidly in Colorado. They now keep pace with the whirling machinery of all the industrial world, and each successive year leaves a record of advancement unequalled in the history of civilization. The more intelligent and courageous have come to the new country to bring it under the control of their genius and their labor.

Nor had “civilization and culture” passed it by. “Scarcely a relic of pioneer or border methods remain, while an order of civilization, which is more than all else conspicuous for its intelligence, refinement and progressive achievement prevails.” Mining had founded Colorado and, without missing a beat, it would highlight the future as well. Many Coloradans, and certainly the authors of the report, liked to wed the past and the future.


It has been the history of many of the richest mines of the State that in the first stages of their development they were regarded as of little or no value and often abandoned by the original locators. There are many thousands of such prospects in the State, and they await only the same application of genius and labor that has brought so many millions of treasure out of the Rocky Mountains in the past years. In this great aggregation of mere prospects is the assurance of treasure for the centuries to come. In the mining industry is the main opportunity for the capitalist or the immigrant seeking fortune in Colorado.

Being poor held no handicap. “No where in the world is found a greater degree of intelligence among the poor.” Not only that, Colorado “all in all has a greater proportion of educated poor” and a “less percentage of dependent ones among them than in any state in the union.” Coloradans were, the Report asserted, “as an aggregation, whether rich or poor, the number of proportionately bright men and women of broad intelligence and high attainments in the intellectual world is not exceeded in the scholarly cities of fame in America.” Without pausing to take a deep breath, the authors gazed into the future with equal confidence and enthusiasm: Everywhere within her broad domain exist the evidences of a refined, cultured, progressive civilization. This is the Colorado of the future, which shall be peerless among commonwealths, the renown of whose prosperity shall fill the whole earth, and whose proud people shall sway the destinies of the republic even to the remotest generation.

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With that start, the Report set the pace for what followed. There seemed nothing that Colorado could not offer to tourists, settlers, investors, health seekers, and, honestly, it seemed, just about everyone. For example, the health seekers need look no further, because “there are a great many people who came to Colorado a few years ago, poor and broken down in health, and who are now strong, active and prosperous in business.” “Many ills of human flesh that have passed beyond the aid of medical skill are cured by nature’s remedies.” How? They are “dispensed through Colorado’s pure atmosphere, dry, gladsome sunshine, and sparkling waters [of the] mineral laden mountains.” The state also offered “health giving mineral springs” and “thermal springs” which both “abound in great numbers.” It was promised that “sufferers from the most serious organic diseases are positively cured, or greatly improved, and their lives happily prolonged by the persistent use of these waters, both as bath and a drink.” One might ask frankly, what diseases? Without hesitating, the Report continued on the subject. It listed rheumatism, consumption, asthma, liver, kidney, skin diseases, malarial poisoning, paralytics, dyspeptics, and shattered nervous prostration as yielding most “readily” to Colorado’s climate and its “miracle” waters. People come from “all over the world” to “soon recover” their “broken constitutions.” The state, it seemed, offered a medical marvel for sufferers of all types. And then the reader arrived at the discussion of the “unsurpassed” climate. Winters “are most delightful, averaging high bright sunny days as in summer.” The temperature only “occasionally falls to 10–15 below at night.” Summers “are seldom excessively warm,” and “everywhere pleasant in the shade.” Furthermore, neither “sun stroke nor cyclones ever occur.” One must not forget the “delightful months of autumn,” and nothing surpasses spring. In addition, the authors promised, “here we can always rely upon our weather,” and those who come “are enchanted with the delightful scenes and a longing memory brings them again year after year.” For the tourist, there existed no better place to visit. What could surpass the Denver & Rio Grande’s trip from Alamosa to Silverton? “Thence onward and westward, Phantom Curve, Toltec Gorge, Garfield Memorial, the Needles, Elk Park, Garfield Peak, Sultan Mountain and the many awe-inspiring and rugged heights and chasm of the Animas Canyon gives a journey of ever changing, but increasing interest.” Not to mention that the D&RG “plunges through Royal Gorge” and on through the “snowy range with its masses of mountain spires whose whitened summits rise to the clouds. Then downward under their gloomy shadow, through the abysmal chasm, into the beautiful valleys of the Eagle, the Grand and the Blue.” The traveler would be awed by “these towering giants of the Rockies.” With tourist travel mostly by train, who could resist Colorado? Speaking of railroads, Colorado boasted of nine main lines and many branches by 1893, which added up to 4,675 miles of trackage. The publication


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hailed Colorado’s “baby railroad,” the Denver & Rio Grande in particular, the state being indebted to it “for a great part of its prosperity.” Attention was also drawn to the Pike’s Peak railroad, a “unique achievement which cost $300,000 to build its eight plus miles.” The “sensational novelty of this century in railroad construction” took the rider to the 14,110-foot mountaintop. A young college English professor, Katherine Lee Bates teaching a summer term at Colorado College, did not ride this “novelty,” but reached the top anyway that summer by wagon. Inspired, she wrote the words to “America the Beautiful” based on her experience. Following such a crammed cornucopia of blessings, each county received a chapter to expound upon its gifts. Routt County, for example, offered a “diversity and vastness of resources and many advantages for varied industry.” It only awaited the arrival of the railroad, which would allow it to “overcome all obstacles for industrial development and make this one of the richest, most populous counties in the State.” Far out in eastern Colorado, Kit Carson was touted as “one of the rain belt” counties whose people’s faith was “unshaken in the future possibilities of their county, while new settlements, and new homes are being continually made.” Boulder County possessed “great resources in agriculture, mining, and manufacturing” and “every advantage in attractions to health and pleasure seekers.” It also was “the home of the state university, an institution that will be for all time one of the greatest establishments of learning in the West.” La Plata County offered “splendid mineral springs” and “a high order of social life.” It also contained agriculture, mining, manufacturing, coal mining, quarries, and orchards, the economic base for prosperity. “All of these developments are singularly illustrative of the peculiar and rapid transformation of a western country from the state of savagery to that of a high order of civilization.” When discussing coal, the Report proved equally buoyant, right in line with its precious metals mining forecasts. “In the great coal measure of Colorado there is a fuel supply for unknown centuries to come.” As for marble, in due time, “Colorado will rival the world.” A handful of cities gained special recognition. Creede and Cripple Creek, new mining communities, offered a “great number of prospects.” Colorado Springs was heralded as the “center of a region of wonder and charm.” Manitou Springs, the “Saratoga of the West,” had become “world renowned” for its springs that “give health vigor to thousands who drink the waters.” “Where the coal meets the iron great cities are built. Pueblo is so situated and will be a great city.” The most verbiage, though, was reserved for Denver, “now the great metropolis of the West.” While it might be claimed that “every [large city] is wicked,” Denver did not fit the description. “It has simply its share of vice, but a more intelligent, industrious, cultured and orderly aggregation of people never formed

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the population of a large city.” Its churches, libraries, schools, theaters, businesses, newspapers, buildings, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, and “beautiful homes” proclaim that “no city in the world has such brilliant and certain prospects.” “As life in Paris is distinctively Parisian, so life in Denver is distinctively Denverian.” It would seem that the reader of the Report could not hold back and would hasten quickly forward to travel to Colorado, which was exactly what its authors and sponsors wished. Even the despairing decline of the price of an ounce of silver, and its corresponding dismal impact on the state’s entire economy, could not stop Coloradans in their promotion. While it ranked as the nation’s number one silver-mining state, a golden lining had appeared. “One of those providential dispensations in the affairs of man” occurred: “new gold fields have been discovered in Colorado,” none shining brighter than Cripple Creek. The World’s Fair, many believed, offered nearly an unmatched educational experience. Colorado schoolchildren were encouraged to study about the reason for the fair and become involved in preparing exhibits. Leadville’s schools, for one district in the state, decided to have a “thorough and systematic study of World’s Fair matters.” According to a report in the September 24, 1892, Aspen Daily Chronicle, “A complete course of study has been outlined, the subjects including the early voyages of the Norsemen to the North American continent, the life and discoveries of Columbus, detailed accounts of his landing, together with other voyages by distinguished navigators.” The young scholars, the story went on, “it is said, have taken a deep interest in the study, and by the time the fair opens, all of them will have a very fair knowledge of events which revolutionize the thought of the world.” Other schools planned similar courses of study, and, as the paper went on to enthusiastically report, “many older people, too, have felt the necessity of obtaining a good historical knowledge concerning the discovery of America, and other interesting facts.” They found the answer in the popular Chautauqua programs. Nothing was more all the rage, at the moment, for “adult education” and acquiring a taste of culture, than the Chautauqua movement, founded in 1874 in Chautauqua, New York. It offered a range of cultural, religious, and recreational activities using speakers and sometimes weeklong summer meetings. It also presented home-study courses including one in 1892–1893 to prepare folks for the fair and to gain a better understanding of American history. In order to provide this information in a pleasing manner, the Chautauqua circle has inaugurated a series of World’s Fair readings and studies, which are attracting many people to the sittings of the circle. This historical course was outlined by a special committee, organized in connection with the ladies department of the World’s Fair work, and is one which, it is believed, will result in much benefit to the public, and the spreading of historical knowledge concerning the United States as well as in rousing an interest in the study of history generally. (Rocky Mountain News 1893)


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The idea seemed wonderful, but how successful it might have been has been lost to history. Again, however, it shows the growing influence of the women in planning for the fair. Meanwhile, schoolchildren prepared exhibits to be sent to Chicago. They did so under specific guidelines that carefully stated “every item of work presented as the product of the pupils should be absolutely genuine.” The guidelines warned specifically, as follows: “Interference of a teacher, even to the correction of an obvious mistake, the retouching of a shade in a drawing, the fitting by a shaving of a joint of woodwork, the dotting of an ‘i’ or the crossing of a ‘t’ should be deemed an inexcusable fault; and any work so ‘improved’ should be rigorously rejected.” A variety of exhibits were planned for students from elementary school through colleges and these included public and private, technology and art schools, as well as schools for the “blind, deaf, and feeble minded.” The hope was clearly stated: that all work should aim to show the results of the educational forces at work in the school from which it comes. All this seemed fine and dandy, but, without finances, nothing would happen no matter how wonderful it might be. For the fair management, finances haunted their days and nights. Would the fair turn a profit to the investors? It finally did, as mentioned, but not until near the end. In the meantime, a variety of means surfaced to try to raise funds. One of the most popular came about because Congress authorized the minting of Columbian half dollars and sold them to the fair, which, as you recall, promptly offered them for sale for one dollar each. During 1892, excitement built up when the Fairplay Flume (August 25) noted that the highest amount offered to date was “$600 for the first coin minted” that would carry a certificate from the director of the mint. The coin finally sold for $10,000. Less well endowed Coloradans could write the treasurer of the World’s Columbian Exposition and purchase five or more for a dollar each. Banks, and some Colorado merchants, also had them for sale. This was only one of a deluge of souvenirs that flooded the market. Before the fair even opened, books and pamphlets, from a few pages to four hundred pages in length, tempted the buyer. One could also make money by selling them to the “millions who contemplate visiting Chicago in 1893.” Coloradans could also keep up with what was going on at the fair through their local newspapers, thanks to the fair’s publicity machine. The pace became a sprint as the fair neared. There were stories about accommodations being prepared, including the six-hundred-room Great Northwest Hotel and a new music hall, apparently for those who became tired of the fair attractions. Evidently, because of rumors or worries, articles repeatedly assured readers that “there would be no lack of accommodations in Chicago” (Flynn 1893) and at least one person promised that reservations could be made in Colorado. For those who enjoyed such things

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there was even a contest to see who could make the largest number of words out of the letters found in “The World’s Fair.” The prize was a grand piano. The testing of the “wonderful mammoth search light,” sitting atop the Transportation Building, caught readers’ attention in mid-January. “This great light whose rays can be seen sixty miles away and which can locate a man from ten to twenty miles distant,” hinted at only one of the marvels in the upcoming fair. The Boulder Daily Camera excitedly reported on February 4 that “900 flag poles were already up in early February and the number would grow into the thousands” before the fair opened. Christopher Columbus, of course, remained the man of the hour. A joint resolution of Congress authorized the Library of Congress to exhibit such “books, papers, documents, and other articles” that the library contained that “may relate to Columbus’ discovery and the early history of America” (Board of Educational Department). For those Coloradans worrying about such matters, various papers mentioned “commodious free waiting rooms and spacious ladies toilet rooms will be provided in various parts of the grounds.” Not missing a beat, the Castle Rock Journal (April 19, 1893) recommended making arrangements to visit the fair in the “cool and pleasant month” of June and try to avoid the “rather warm” months of July and August. As the magical opening date of May 1 approached, “misrepresentation and misstatement” multiplied leading to an official announcement, already quoted, about drinking, toilets, admission, and free medical service. Of course, concerns were expressed about whether the grounds would be ready. Again, the managers jumped to inform the public that “what now seems to be a hopeless chaos of mud and building debris can be transferred into a beautiful garden.” While it would probably not all be finished initially, it was promised to “beyond all doubt be a great exhibition” (Rocky Mountain News, May 25, 1893). Nonetheless, excitement mounted as the months turned into weeks then into days before the fair opened. The Castle Rock Journal summarized it perfectly when the editor wrote, “Contemplating it, one sees the genius of civilization in all nations; nature and art in their highest and most perfect development; everything to fascinate the eye and lend inspiration.” Or Golden’s Colorado Transcript, which, after the fair opened, told its readers that the fair must be considered to be the greatest undertaking of the age. . . . Never in the world’s history has there been anything approaching it in the magnificence and extensiveness of its grounds and buildings, or the character of the varied exhibits and displays from almost every nation on the globe. No one should miss the opportunity to witness this grand spectacle.


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Not Matter, But Mind; Not Things, But Men In the Colorado section is sufficient evidence that she is no longer, as some imagine, merely a mining and stock-raising region. —Herbert Howe Bancroft, The Book of the Fair The great exposition was triumphantly opened in the presence of more than a quarter of a million spectaculars. All hail to the World’s Columbian Exposition, and all honor to its projectors. —Colorado Transcript (Golden), May 10, 1893 Stopped at the Rockisland house on Sherman sty. Took the Illinois R. R. out to the Worlds Fair this evening Grand Electric display I got back home at 10 p.m. The fair is emence the trouble there is so much that a person is confused. —Christian J. Buys, ed., The Lost Journals of Charles S. Armstrong (Tuesday, June 27, 1893)

one of the first issues Coloradans had to think about, if going to the fair, was how to arrive safely at their destination through the wiles and traps of the big city. Both Colorado’s and Chicago’s newspapers offered advice. The recommendations included this one. If one merely expected to make a short visit, take “only essential clothing” that can be put into a “bag or small valise.” “Try to get along without bringing a trunk.” Carry it with you when “you travel on the train or in the city. Be prudent in all actions. Carefully look for a


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hotel, boarding house, or place to stay.” All this “will save you a great deal of trouble and annoyance.” Definitely “get to the fair early and do not miss the Colorado Building and other state exhibits scattered around the World’s Fair” (Flynn 1893). If a family had small children, the fair provided a Children’s Building located next to the Woman’s Building. Here Colorado parents could leave their youngsters knowing that they would be “instructed” or “amused” and be in the charge of “careful nurses” (Flynn 1893). The little tykes could be left by the hour or the day. Colorado was well represented among the buildings and exhibits on the fairgrounds; in fact, it was “represented in every department of the exposition.” The state lived up to the exposition’s motto “Not matter, but mind; not things, but men” by featuring the “immensity and varied character” of Coloradans and their accomplishments. Exhibits could be seen in the Transportation, Mines and Mining, Manufactures and Liberal Arts, and Horticultural and Agricultural buildings which showed, among other things, the “flora and fauna in great completeness,” the “magnificence of its mines,” and the “progressive nature of the state and its people.” Women did their share in the Woman’s Building, and “mysterious” Mesa Verde had an exhibit of its own. Women had been involved in planning it from the start and the Colorado lady managers were among the thousand guests present at the high-society reception held by the Potter Palmers as the fair opened. Now they could “bask” in the success of their efforts, even if some men relegated their efforts to a “side show.” Coloradans arriving at the fair, despite the “financial disaster [that] broke over the Centennial State,” probably did not fail to go to the Colorado Building. Its architecture “evidenced the Spanish-Moresque influences of early Western settlement.” Come then and visit the building as described by Shepp’s World’s Fair Photographed (1893). The Colorado Building does not depend upon its external appearance for its attractiveness. Two tall towers [eighty feet high] erected on either side of the entrance somewhat relieve the white monotony of the façade. The second story may be reached by winding flights of broad stone steps beside the principal entrance. Colorado is one of the greatest mineral-producing states of the country. The material for its building was contributed by the Colorado Marble and Mining Co. (p. 362)

Moving inside, one quickly saw what the state committee’s “expectations are of what Colorado has to offer.” On entering the low door, a beautiful marble fireplace meets our view. The columns of the building are wrapped around with grain, of which there are said to


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be over three hundred varieties. The frieze surrounding the lower story is composed of a series of pictures also composed of grain, and very effective against the Egyptian red which is the prevailing color. One would hardly look for a large display of vegetables and fruit from this State, but the size of the fruit, and not alone the size but evident fineness of quality, is a pleasant revelation to the uninitiated. Highly polished specimens of native woods form a pleasing display, while the great variety is a matter of surprise. In the second story, we gain a good idea of the landscape of Colorado from two large pictures that hang in the writing-room. One is Platte canon, a narrow passageway between two mighty mountains, which seem to pierce the sky on either side. Another picture is the Currecanti Needles, which rises like the spire of a cathedral, built of huge blocks of variegated colors. The scenery of Switzerland pales into insignificance beside these.


A statue in the Colorado Building quickly captured one’s attention. It had quite a history. “The women of Colorado have nobly come to the front; they subscribed $10,000 for the purchase of the marble statue entitled ‘The Last of His Race,’ by [Preston] Powers” (Shepp 1893, 362). It was the women of Denver’s Fortnightly Club who thought that a statue would be nice addition to the state’s exhibit. They commissioned Powers, at one time dean of the University of Denver’s art department, to make the bronze sculpture. After the fair, it was placed on permanent display on the capitol’s east lawn in Denver. Colorado’s building contained more than just exhibits. Coloradans found that the second floor of their building was almost a home away from home. “On this floor, there is a large audience hall in which concerts are given daily, at the hour of noon. The remainder of the rooms are devoted to the use of ladies and gentlemen, and are very comfortably furnished” (Shepp 1893, 362). While visiting the building, the visitors could thumb through or purchase a copy of Mines and Mining Men of Colorado; Historical, Descriptive and Pictorial. Within its packed 120 pages were stories of district, mines, bonanza kings, and almost everything pertaining to Colorado mining. Nor was Colorado finished providing attractions for visitors who were willing to journey to some of the main buildings. The State has done itself great credit in its other exhibits. It has a beautiful pavilion in the Mines and Mining Building, and its display of mineral and ores is second only to that of Pennsylvania. In other departments of the Exposition the flora and fauna of the State are exhibited. The educational value of the display is very great. (Shepp 1893, 362)

Never remiss, the state hustled to lure tourists and settlers westward. Having seen all the enticements, how could one not travel to Colorado to visit, to invest, or perhaps to live!

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On the second floor of the Mines Building (some called it a “gallery”) stood Hiram Johnson’s statue Silver Queen, having arrived from Aspen. The supposed model for this was a seventeen-year-old girl, the same age as the state. Sitting on a throne in “a silver barge mounted on wheels,” the colorful queen held “a silver scepter,” and her face, bust, and arms were “silver plated.” The “heroic size” statue’s colorful drapery was incrusted with “cube lead and colored crystal from Colorado.” For those in the know, Plutus, the god of riches, completed the group. Most Aspenites thought it was just wonderful, as did the Rocky Mountain Sun. Aspen, the paper believed, would attract “more attention” than any other city in the state “thanks to the Silver Queen statue.” A few locals begged to differ, as mentioned, believing it to be gaudy. Nor did some visitors think it enhanced Aspen’s image. Colorado’s contribution to the World’s Fair did not go by without a couple of glitches that both ended in unseemly little flaps. Some people were very upset with the Colorado Building and others with the state’s mineral exhibit. The former started with the opening of the fair. The Rocky Mountain News had encouraged anyone who had items to “aid in beautifying the Colorado Building” to send them to Denver. However, the newspaper could not contain itself and let forth a blast about the “weak point” at the fair in a May 20 editorial. The point is disastrously weak. It is in having an empty state building, which in that condition is a conspicuous disgrace to this commonwealth, while sister states are vying with each other as to which will have the best display of all their resources in the state headquarters. Every day’s delay in remedying this huge oversight is emphasizing the extraordinary blunder and cost Colorado a good price.

The Rocky Mountain News, while both defending and criticizing Colorado’s building, in several more of its May editorials continued raising questions. Visitors to the Colorado building upon the world’s fair grounds should be greeted by an artfully arranged display of our state interests, which would recall and unify in the mind of the beholder all that has been seen pertaining to Colorado within the vast area of mammoth edifices that amaze every newcomer upon the marvelous scene. That should be the primary purpose of the building, and is the use of which other states are putting their buildings.

The visitor’s impression, the News complained, “is confused.” Yet the News concluded (May 14), Coloradans “realize that we now have the chance of a life time to make the measureless resources of the state known to the world.” They “are earnestly invited to give this subject their attention.” Aspen’s Rocky Mountain Sun (May 6), moreover, did not like the mining exhibit. “It is mortifying to hear” that the Colorado exhibit “is so far short of being what it ought to be, that it is positively discreditable, if not disgraceful to the state.” The


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News, joined by other papers, kept up the editorial attack. The fair board replied it had no money to do more than it had with the Colorado Building. Finally, as May drew nearer to a close, papers reported that “after full consideration by the proper authority it has been officially decided to make use of the Colorado building at the world’s fair as the center of an exhibit for the collective display of the products of the state.” Now “every patriotic citizen who takes pride in the good name of the Silver state” should assist in raising funds and “come forward and donate specimens free of charge” (Rocky Mountain News). “Hasten the work,” the newspapers cried the next few weeks. By the end of the month encouraging news appeared. “The collection of special exhibits is progressing nicely,” one newspaper reported. The collection expanded into June, though, the News still would not let the matter drop. Eventually, after all this, Coloradans would see their special building emerge as a “profitable investment.” Despite the editorial ink, Colorado presented itself to the fairgoers with high hopes. Critics proved to be in a small, though somewhat vocal, minority. As Coloradans arrived at the fair, most were pleased, even proud of their building. All this aside, Colorado had an individual attraction that caught the attention of fairgoers: the “cliff-dwellers” exhibit, “a 1/10 actual size representation of the wondrous and long-deserted cliff-dwellings of the Mancos Canon.” All this was encased in a representation of “Battle Rock Mountain,” actually located west of Mesa Verde in McElmo Canyon. The official guide breathlessly reported that while it gave the “appearance of solid rock,” in reality it was constructed of “timbers, staff, iron and stone painted to imitate nature” (Flynn 1893). Not to be overly dramatic, but A Week at the Fair described it as being so “realistic as to cause many an old frontiersman instinctively to look around for the treacherous Utes.” The Utes were not “treacherous” and had nothing to do with the exhibit except to live nearby in southwestern Colorado. One of the few exhibits to charge admission—twenty-five cents plus another ten cents for a catalogue—it offered a wonderful display for the “scientist, student, or curious.” The story of the exhibit went back just a few years. Ranchers Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason had “discovered” the place eventually named Cliff Palace in December 1888, and in the following year exhibited a collection of relics throughout Colorado. This created interest in southwestern Colorado and for a short time put the little village of Mancos on the map. Other “explorers” arrived in the next couple of years and more collections gathered while interest in and speculation about the cliff dwellings and their builders escalated. It seemed a natural fit to have an exhibit at the upcoming world’s fair. The H. Jay Smith Exploring Company spent six months at Mesa Verde in 1892 collecting thousands of relics including “mummies of the long-forgotten people,” taking hundreds of photographs, engineering surveys, and having an artist make sketches for a canvas background. They also worked on that catalogue (“which

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fully explains many curious and interesting Cliff-dweller specimens”) that captured a popular “western” image with a “canyon with ruins, a pack train, and a rider with a rifle.” The Smith Company then secured “a large space of ground” at the southern end of the future fairgrounds. The sightseers entered, as one booklet portrayed it, through a “cavernous portal,” into the “abode of the mysterious Cliff Dwellers.” Then they walked down a canyon. On their left they viewed Cliff Palace, then Square Tower House on the right, and opposite it Balcony House before continuing ahead seeing the “Cliff Dwellers’ Country” which included photographs. “No expense or trouble is spared to make this wonderful exhibit an absolute reproduction, faithful in every detail, to these most interesting ruins” including “real cactus, sage brush, and other vegetation transplanted from their native clime.” These, visitors were assured, represented “the finest of the cliff dwellings.” At the end of the museum, placed by themselves “so as not to offend those” not wanting to look at such things, could be seen a number of “mummies.” Such an exhibit obviously would not be appropriate for genteel Victorian women, for their “female emotions” might be shocked. All told, nonetheless, it was “considered the most complete collection in the world.” To make the exhibit even more rewarding (not to mention, perhaps, to draw more people), Richard Wetherill traveled to Chicago in September to be an expert, or as the saying went, to act as a ruin “sharp.” Before returning home in November, he managed to squeeze in a visit to Niagara Falls and other places back east. Being involved in the fair brought Mesa Verde and Mancos into the public’s attention. And tourists would be coming, the Mancos Times boastfully claimed in November 1893. For those who arrived to see the “Mancos Cliff Dwelling,” guides, animals, bedding, food, and camp equipage awaited them. The exhibit also had photographers who made “Cliff Dwelling views a specialty.” Separate from this, the interested fairgoers of Mesa Verde could also see photographs taken by William Henry Jackson. They, the Marcos Times unhesitatingly proclaimed, provided “some of the largest views of Cliff Palace ever taken” which Jackson visited twice to get “negatives in sunshine and in shadow.” Always a Coloradan at heart, Jackson had Colorado photographs in the Transportation Building and elsewhere. Before the exposition ended, he would become the fair’s official photographer. Colorado also had exhibits in the Anthropological Building along with neighboring states. They ranged from “ancient pueblos” to “living American Indians.” It gave the visitor a moment of pause to realize how long they had been in the Southwest as opposed to those latecomers who now lived and worked and visited this land of many contrasts. All that aside, where Colorado hoped to make its mark rested with its “peerless and unsurpassed” mining exhibit. It definitely needed to be high-grade because


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other countries throughout the world planned to take advantage of the fair to advertise their natural resources. Perhaps none more so than Australia. For example, the “Catalogue of the New South Wales Exhibits” on mines, mining, and metallurgy totaled 369 pages. Starting with coal, gold, and silver, it ran through sixteen other mineral deposits found in that state. The silver-mining discussion must have particularly interested visitors, not only for the richness of the mines, but for their recent discovery. It had been only fourteen years since the mines had opened. The production of 1890 also must have caught their attention for it totaled nearly 8.5 million British pounds currency. The proud book’s author concluded this “clearly shows the increasing and national importance of the mining interest of N.S.W.” Not to be outdone, Coloradans did their best to have an unsurpassed display of its mineral cornucopia. “Colorado makes a magnificent and dazzling display with its mining exhibit astonishing the beholder,” wrote one exuberant visitor. The country’s leading mining journal, while more reserved, praised the Colorado mineral exhibit located near the main entrance to the Mines Building. Within the exhibit, each county had a space for all to see its mineral wealth.


Numerous cases filled with ores line the two closed sides of the pavilion. Along the aisles great masses of gold and silver ores form an effectual barrier. Numerous beautifully polished columns of building stones ornament the interior, while above all of these a massive coal column raises its head. Displayed attractively in the center of the pavilion is $16,000 worth of pure gold. The gold is in glass cases and arranged so advantageously that it is a source of constant admiration from all. (Engineering and Mining Journal [June 24, 1893]: 581)

The article went on to say that “as a whole it compares most favorably with the States that can be called its competitors, and the amount of ores in weight and value undoubtedly surpasses all others.” It was not simply the precious metals that captured the writer’s attention. “To the general public the reputation of Colorado as a gold and silver producer has overshadowed its other mineral resources, so that few appreciate how great they are.” While gold and silver caught the visitor’s attention, the writer pointed out that coal, coke, pig iron, “asphaltum,” copper, and lead were also produced. In fact, the coal industry “is one of the most important in the State.” The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, which tapped the state’s rich southern coal fields, erected a column of coal “8 ft. square at the base and 24 ft. in height,” the “largest trophy in the building, with the possible exception of that of Pennsylvania’s anthracite.” Nor did the state’s mineral cornucopia stop there. A large granite column and eleven “smaller stone columns arranged so as to form a circle about it” caught the visitor’s attention as well (p. 581).

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Another exhibit intrigued the public: marble from the little camp of Marble over in the Gunnison country. With architecture featuring classical marble buildings all the rage, this seemed the perfect time to proclaim to the world “the quality of Colorado marble. . . . Naturally,” the Rocky Mountain News article went on to say, “the gold and silver exhibit is the most generally attractive.” Exhibits came from all over. Aspen’s famous Mollie Gibson mine dazzled fairgoers with highgrade native silver running from “68 oz. to 25,000 oz. per ton silver.” Leadville’s famous Chrysolite, Emmett, Catalpa, and A.Y. & Minnie mines contributed high-grade silver ore as well, reminding onlookers of those exhilarating silver bonanza days of a decade or so ago when “all roads led to Leadville” (Engineering and Mining Journal [June 24, 1893]: 581). As Leadville’s glory days passed, the new bonanza district was Cripple Creek. Its display of glittering gold ore valued at over seven thousand dollars per ton dazzled onlookers. Not to be outdone, Creede and other San Juan districts sent along specimens of gold and silver that could not have failed to capture the fairgoers’ attention. Creede especially caught viewers’ notice with specimens that “show large flakes of fine silver and gold.” The Denver Weekly Republican (May 30, 1893), though, thought “the gold from Summit County, Breckenridge” proved an important center of interest. “A big crowd surrounded it all day.” This superb collection (valued at sixteen thousand dollars with gold prices at a little over twenty dollars per ounce) “is displayed in cases set out in the center of the pavilion; wire gold, placer gold, nuggets and other forms of gold.” It would seem that “all the specimens are of a beautiful bright color” and must have grabbed the attention of passersby. According to one report, “visitors stand in crowds around the glittering exhibits of gold and silver ores” (Rocky Mountain News, June 1893). Even pretty specimens of turquoise from the Blue Gem mine near Villa Grove attracted onlookers’ notice. Geological maps and “views of Colorado scenery and towns famed in white and silver” hanging above the mineral cases completed the exhibit. Fair visitors were amazed to know that Colorado’s mineral production for 1892 had topped $31.9 million. Silver still remained the main pillar despite its plunging price, but Cripple Creek gold was starting to make an impact. Overall, one reporter proclaimed of Colorado’s mineral exhibit, “her display in the Mines and Mining Building is probably the best ever made by a State. She has a great future before her” (Rocky Mountain News, June 1893). Rossiter Raymond, well-known mining engineer and reporter, commented on the Colorado exhibit. It is difficult to produce a fresh sensation by the mere display of nuggets and rich “quartz” specimens; and in the splendid exhibit of Colorado, even the collection


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of gold nuggets from Breckenridge and San Miguel, the most valuable, perhaps ever brought together, was less impressive than the wonderful balustrades and columns of Colorado marble, sandstone, granite, onyx, and alabaster, and the specimens of coal, asphalt, petroleum, and iron-ore, which testify to the rich variety of the natural wealth of the favored State. (Raymond 1894)

With insight, he spoke for the present, yet in reality more for the mining future. Romantic gold and silver were staging their last hurrah. Amid all the glitter and glamour, some naysayers spread a bit of gloom. The famed geologist Richard Penrose, professor at the University of Chicago, felt “the exhibit is fairly good, but a state of such immense mining wealth as Colorado could have made a much better one” (Penrose 1893, 466). The American Geologist, after the exposition had closed, chimed in with its own, rather late opinion. The great silver (and gold) State which ought to be in the van of the exhibitors has not a representation of her ores worthy of, except, perhaps, in products of the furnace, which in not all cases, or at least are not stated to be from her own ores. While some of the individual specimens are interesting, there is no attempt to supply a systematic exhibit from the state. (1893, 379)


The Engineering and Mining Journal (October 24) felt the exhibit needed a “key,” so the onlooker would gain a better understanding of the specimens. Such cynics did not long dampen Coloradans’ enthusiasm and pride. In their eyes, William S. Ward and his assistant, Victor Heikes, had done a wonderful job in creating this exhibit particularly considering time and financial constraints. Another issue about Colorado’s participation at the fair surfaced concerning the mining exhibit. All considered, it was a little more serious. In some ways, it reflected the growing east/west split in the state. On one side stood some of the mining towns, particularly those on the Western Slope, on the other, Denver. The Aspen Weekly Times (June 24) stated bluntly, the exhibit “is not only a disgrace to the Western Slope, but to the entire state of Colorado.” The paper charged William Ward, chief of the mining department, with gross mismanagement because he “discriminated against the Western Slope, the richest portion of the state.” Ward became the lightening rod for criticism. The Western Slope Congress meeting in late June condemned the state’s fair commissioners and Ward. It called for a “thorough and complete investigation.” In a more mild manner, the Silverton Standard (June) felt the “exhibit is creditable, but no better than several other states have displayed.” The editor complained, however, that San Juan County ores “were not properly labeled.” Denver’s Mining Industry and Tradesman (June 29), while not defending Ward, pointed out that he had assumed his position after the original chief had resigned on account of the state “not giving him the support required to make a good

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display.” Ward had had to start anew raising funds and planning the exhibit. Then the Western Slope Congress demanded the right to “organize” the display from their region or “we won’t play.” Ward, the editor said, “ought to have resigned” before consenting to Colorado’s fair commissioners’ “simply ridiculous” plan. The Rocky Mountain News (May 13) also came to Ward’s defense. The exhibit was in the “Highest Degree Creditable to the State,” headlined an article. A week later, on May 20, the editor returned to the topic. Colorado’s world’s fair displays have been made the subjects of unjust and injurious criticism growing out of disappointments with persons connected with their preparation. The mining exhibit has been especially singled out for a target, although the products of more mines are intelligently, scientifically and tastefully shown than are to be found in any other display on the grounds.

The Chicago Tribune chimed in calling it one of the finest, most valuable displays in the building. “The state of Colorado has an exhibition of mineral products in the mines and mining building that attracts a great deal of attention, and was so crowded with visitors several times yesterday [May 16] that they had considerable difficulty moving about among the showcases.” In the end, the tempest reflected more of an eastern vs. western slope jealousy than anything else. This was not new despite Colorado’s tender age, nor had the state seen the last of similar brawls. All the fussing aside, what Coloradans hoped would happen would be a repeat of the 1867 Paris Exposition where a territorial exhibit had increased interest in Colorado in Europe and in the eastern states. With Cripple Creek booming and other districts hoping, there would be plenty of opportunity for the excited, gullible, worldly wise, and shrewd to invest in stocks, promising prospects, and in what Mark Twain called “a hole in the ground owned by a liar.” Colorado did well with its exhibits in the Agricultural Building, also, if not quite equal to its mining section. The state “occupies 2,680 square feet” and “her pavilion is surrounded by a frieze of grains and grasses, and the pillars and sides are tastefully decorated with bunches of wheat in fan patterns.” Add to this the “attractive displays,” which one guidebook reported included “enormous” apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, and prunes. The exhibits of “her grains and grasses” were placed in frames “making investigation easy,” and as visitors entered they were greeted by “a pyramid of great yellow ears of corn” (Bancroft 1893). In his The Book of the Fair, Hubert H. Bancroft praised the state’s effort. “Thus it is that instead of importing as in earlier days the bulk of her food supply,” Colorado now raised it and grew more “than suffice for home consumption.” He also commended the state’s irrigation effort as being larger “than in any of the Rocky Mountain or the Pacific states,” except California. It gave “fertility to 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 acres of land” (p. 360).


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As Bancroft pointed out, “Colorado offered much for the fair goers to admire.” The exhibit, for example, included a “model of one of her irrigated valleys” (p. 360). Among the grains displayed were four hundred specimens of wheat and one hundred of oats, and seventy of barley and rye, plus samples of buckwheat, flax, and sugar cane. The Colorado Agricultural College contributed more than a hundred varieties of native grasses and forage plants plus alfalfa and timothy hay. Their display incorporated “a collection of all the field and garden seeds of economic value.” Added together it provided a strong repudiation of the slowly fading idea that at least the eastern part of the state was part of the “Great American Desert,” fit only for buffalo, antelope, and Indians. Coloradans could be proud of their agriculture growth in the past generation since the prairies had been settled and small farming villages started dotting the landscape. One need not mention the drought and hard winters of the mid-1880s, or the conflict over prairie land between the ranchers and farmers. Far better to look to the mountain valleys where ranchers raised cattle and sheep and the large Western Slope was just opening up and getting its agriculture established. Taken in total, they all presented a glimpse of the future. Speaking of the future, among the Colorado exhibits at the fair were forty photographs of life and times at the University of Colorado. English professor J. Raymond Brackett took the photos including one of the 1892 football team, another of Mary Rippon, the first woman professor, and perhaps to tempt prospective students to enroll, a few mountain scenes. The University of Colorado was not alone among Colorado’s schools in presenting an exhibit. “No state in the union possesses superior education advantages,” hailed one publication. Among the other exhibits were ones representing kindergartens through universities, public and private schools, and male and female schools. Colorado machinery—mechanical appliances, manufactures’ exhibits, inventions, and the “progress of labor”—could be found in the Machinery Hall and railroad exhibits in the Transportation Building. Colorado photographs were located in numerous buildings as well. Painters with a diversity of artistic views exhibited their works trying to capture Colorado’s medley of hues and vistas. All told, the state was well represented, but the crown jewels glimmered with the mining and the women’s array of exhibits. Colorado women, who had worked so hard to prepare for the fair, did themselves proud with their exhibits, which included quite a variety of entries. Among the books in the Woman’s Building library, forty-six had been written by Coloradans, far better numbers than from any of the state’s neighbors. Alida P. Lansing collected, preserved, and displayed a thousand of the state’s flowers. Others had cut and polished stones from mines owned by women and placed them as part of an exhibit.

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One woman almost became a show unto herself. Former Durango pioneer newspaper editor Caroline Romney exhibited fourteen inventions and “more articles of domestic utility on exhibition” than any other man or woman—“all inventions of her brain.” These included a foot warmer for railway carriages, an iceless milk cooler, and a dinner pail “guaranteed to keep soup or coffee hot all day.” Susan Ashley found ten female geologists and mounted an exhibit of their “sketched original plats” in the science room. Mary Stuckert gave a paper on “co-operative housekeeping” based on her fifteen years’ experience attempting to build a cooperative house in Denver. In the Woman’s Building, she displayed a “plaster model” of a proposed complex which would house forty-four families. Perhaps the women’s most interesting exhibits for fair visitors were those collected in southwestern Colorado of Navajo and Ute material. They included drums, beaded work, baskets, a bust of Ute chief Ignacio, and two women weaving blankets. It had been the “ambition of La Plata County women” from the beginning to make an exhibit for their region. With the help of Denver women, they succeeded. Colorado women not only had planned, collected, and displayed these exhibits, as well as worked on other fair projects, they had also been busy campaigning for women’s right to vote. In 1893, while the fair whirled along, they managed to get the question on the November ballot. Aided by national woman’s suffrage leader Carrie Catt, they organized their effort, held meetings, wrote articles, gave speeches, and even on election day offered men carriage rides to the polls. They convinced their fathers, husbands, brothers, friends, and boyfriends and succeeded in turning out the vote and winning. Colorado thus became the first state where men voted to give women the right to vote. It definitely gave the woman’s suffrage movement a boost throughout the country, particularly in the western states. Colorado’s exhibit in the Woman’s Building was praised as first class in displaying every industry carried on by women, both in the “usual and unusual line of woman’s work.” All in all, Colorado contributed to that in developing an exhibit “that will be a lasting monument to her enterprising citizens.” The women had done well, indeed. Central City did its part for the fair when a local Cornish miner, William Keast, constructed a gold mine exhibit and model (Saratoga gold mine) that was displayed on the Midway. Keast knew the mine well; he had worked in it for six and a half years. It took him nearly five years of steady work to build his model of a seven-hundred-foot-deep mine, “perfect in every detail from shaft house to dump.” It included sixty miners mining and “performing other labor” in a gold mine—“all moving automatically” thanks to the wonder of electricity. It intrigued visitors to see the little figures putting ore in buckets, sinking a winze, working a pump as it pumped out water, and operating a rock drill. The exhibit also included a guide so that onlookers would know what the miners were doing. It had already been exhibited in several Colorado mining towns before


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coming to Chicago and was just starting on a journey that would take it to twelve other fairs, including those in Omaha and St. Louis in the United States, and Belgium, England, Wales, Scotland, and France in Europe. Two special events lured Coloradans, one nearly a failure and the other “entirely successful”—September 11, “Silver Day,” and September 12, “Colorado Day.” The headline describing the former tells it all, “‘Silver Day’ Deliberately Neglected and Ignored at the Fair.” The Rocky Mountain News charged that the committee failed to “properly advertise the event and place where the speeches would be delivered.” As a consequence, when the governors of New Mexico and Texas appeared with “other prominent silverites” at the Music Hall “no audience” joined them. However, that “fact did not deter Governor Prince [New Mexico] from calling the meeting to order” and Texas governor J. S. Dougherty from giving “an hour and a half speech advocating free silver.” The meeting then adjourned until 2 p.m. Colorado’s controversial Populist governor, sixty-seven-year-old former Aspen newspaper editor Davis Waite, who asserted “it is infinitely better that blood should flow to our horses’ bridles rather than our national liberties should be destroyed,” arrived in the afternoon. He promptly entered into a characteristic “spirited argument with several silver men present.” Never one to mince words, “He grew wroth and characterized the whole banking system as a failure, and the bankers of the country as ‘damn rascals.’ They are down at Washington even now, buying one congressmen with their thirty pieces of silver, said the governor as he left the hall” (Rocky Mountain News). After that, the remaining group passed resolutions “condemning the demonetization of silver and attributing the present financial stringency” to that fact. The next day Colorado had its “day” which proved “entirely successful.” The Colorado Building, decorated with flags, bunting, and flowers, welcomed “all loyal citizens of the silver state.” Denver’s “celebrated drum corps” also greeted those visiting Coloradans, enough to “comfortably fill the building” (Rocky Mountain News). The ceremonies began at 2 p.m. with a prayer. Then ex-governor Ben Eaton introduced Governor Waite who “spoke briefly upon Colorado, her history and people” then launched into his favored topic, the silver issue. As usual, he pulled no punches. “The state had an undoubted right,” he proclaimed, “to use silver as a legal tender, regardless of what decree of banishment the United States might issue. Gold and silver was a legal tender, and it mattered not, according to the constitution, whether the stamp of the United States or some other government was upon it.” Working up to a fever pitch, he “gave a long passage of his address” to a general denunciation “of the metropolitan press and a few minutes to the incompetence of the old parties to cope with present industrial and financial depression. Every relief proposed in this emergency is a miserable makeshift that does not include a standard of both gold and silver money.”

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Waite then closed with “a few words of graceful commendation to the exhibits made by his State.” Several other speakers then addressed the crowd, their remarks “interspersed with music.” A band concert concluded the festivities. The News reported the “most enjoyable part” of the day’s program “was the governor’s evening complimentary” reception. “No speaking,” but “plenty of handshaking among the guests.” Golden’s Colorado Transcript concurred. The reception for Governor and Mrs. Waite was attended by a large number of Colorado people, World Fair officials and State representatives. The lawn and porches of the building were brilliantly illuminated and the interior of the building profusely decorated with palms, cut flowers and bunting. After the reception dancing was indulged in until 11 o’clock.

Thus concluded Colorado Day. Governor Waite, whose problems had only begun, hoped to convince a special session of the legislature that the state could buy silver, send it to Mexico to be coined into dollars, and then circulate them within Colorado. That, as can be imagined, caused a verbal and newsprint storm and the “fandango dollar” scheme, as opponents called it, was almost laughed out of the legislative chambers. Coloradans not fortunate enough to travel to Chicago, or who just wanted to keep up with the fair’s events and news, had plenty of opportunity to do so in Colorado newspapers. Thanks to the continued publicity coming out of Chicago, locals found that hardly an issue of their newspapers in the late spring and early summer did not carry an item or two or a special feature. The great Ferris wheel, as would be imagined, received continued coverage from its dimensions, to the time it took to ride, to riders’ observations. Coloradans were fascinated by this wonder. Denver’s Weekly Republican encouraged Coloradans to visit the fair to appreciate the uses of electricity. Several editors went so far as to predict that the Columbian Exposition ushered in the “Electric Age.” For most rural Coloradans, the Chicago fair provided their first experience in seeing the widespread use of electricity. The “indecent dances” of the Midway caught the attention of many an editor and reader. As one said, the fair should go after them “with a sharpened stick.” The Greeley Tribune piously intoned, “the Persian idea of terpsichorean art is not in harmony with the tone of the exposition or the American code of morals.” On a more positive note, other fair aspects received favorable reviews. The days set apart as “fishermen’s days” along with the “grand congress of fishing interests,” “angling tournament,” and “Sportsmen’s Contest,” caught more encouraging notice as did other special days and events. The fair’s management decree that the girls who “work at the stand where water could be found” could not talk with the Columbian Guards produced a few chuckles. “Just think of it girls, forbidden to talk to a man in a pretty uniform.”


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When Lake City’s Times editor found out that “nearly every Colorado military company” was making arrangements to go to the fair on Colorado Day, he wondered why the town’s Pitkin guards were not. “What’s the matter, boys, can’t you afford the trip, and cannot the people of Lake City afford to help out?” It would, he believed, “be a big advertising card” for Lake City if the guard were “headed by the drum corps.” Quite a few papers commented on the cost of the fair and how it would be wise for visitors to take extra funds. The high prices for restaurant food stunned some editors. Baked pork and beans at 30 cents, potato salad at 25 cents, and apple pie at 10 cents seemed to be high. Go to restaurants near the grounds or in Chicago, was their advice. Another bit of advice: beer cost 5 cents a glass at the English restaurant and 10 cents at the German restaurant. Durango’s Daily Southwest, though, issued a warning for all Coloradans. In the May 24 issue it reported that last week a man was robbed of $4,100 by a pickpocket in the crowd. He “carelessly” carried his money in an “unbuttoned coat.” “One can’t be too careful, and it’s foolish to carry any such sum around in your clothes,” the paper editorialized, a bit late for the victim, however. Not all reports coming home to Colorado were laudatory about the fair. A letter writer to the rival Durango Herald finally had had enough. “Criticism is the most fashionable manner of expressing opinion about the World’s Fair.” That was not an evenhanded opinion, in the writer’s estimation. Still hoping people would go, the same editor, however, offered a bit more weather advice. Not many Coloradans will be at the fair until September because “people of the centennial state do not care for being well cooked.” September would be the month to go to avoid Illinois’s heat and humidity. The Rocky Mountain News told its readers, who wanted to keep up with hometown news, that they could find the paper on sale in five Chicago places including the Palmer House. To properly see the fair, the Silverton Standard advised readers it would take ten days. That would be possible only “if the visitor gives up trying to see Chicago at the same time.” The article noted that “even strong farmers accustomed to following the plow” are tired after ten hours of sightseeing. Watch out for “wildcat” tickets of all sorts from railroads as the fair’s fall season neared, warned the Leadville Chronicle, nonetheless, it also said, “Chicago is the place.” By then, both the railroads and Coloradans had other problems to worry about. Durango and Denver newspapers optimistically believed the fair would produce a local tourist bonanza. Articles about attractions, such as Mesa Verde, mines, health resorts, mountains, and other Colorado “wonders,” graced front and inside pages. Apparently, editors hoped these would entice folks to come and help soften the increasingly hard times.

Not Matter, But Mind; Not Things, But Men

The Fairplay Flume and the Rocky Mountain News considered the fair a plus in another way. It would save “American cash from finding its way to Europe”; the “big yellow coins will be missed all over Europe.” The “tide of travel would be to Chicago and the West,” they prophesied. Why they thought the latter might happen, no one explained. With equally great optimism, if no more tied to reality, Durango concurred believing it and southwestern Colorado would be “visited by thousands of tourists” and “extends a welcome to all.” Coloradans who went to the fair were not averse to telling people. Hardly a Colorado newspaper, particularly the smaller ones, failed to carry a notice of who was going and who had come back from the fair. Some folks, as shall be seen in the next chapter, gave accounts of their trip, but generally such words and phrases—“greatly pleased,” “delightful trip,” “take in the wonders of the world’s fair,” “admiring the wonders,” “pleased”—summarized their experiences. No doubt many of them experienced just what the fair organizers had hoped for—education, celebration, and entertainment. They probably would have concurred with what noted writer and editor William Dean Howells observed to a Chicago Tribune reporter: “It is the greatest thing that ever came into my life.” Two other writers expressed similar feelings. As the fair closed Arthur Hardy in the December issue of Cosmopolitan observed: “our western city has given the fragile beauty of a perfect flower, but has also wrought into it the strength and vigor of its virgin soil. We see the past there, but we feel the future.” Julian Street, who would gain a moment of infamy by later criticizing Cripple Creek, wrote, “The Fair awoke the American sense of beauty.” Coloradans would remember when they returned home and would probably never forget what undoubtedly represented a highlight in their lives. One writer tried to capture that feeling. The long lines of white buildings were ablaze with countless lights; the music from the bands scattered over the grounds floated softly out upon the water; all else were silent and dark. In that lovely hour, soft and gentle as ever a summer night . . . people could dream this vision and make it real.

They could remember and dream, but then the silver crisis edged the fair from the headlines and lead stories. Coloradans had much to worry about as the World’s Fair ended and the real world closed in on them.


The Colorado State Building was constructed in the Spanish renaissance style, with the main feature being two towers with spiral stairways that provided access to a magnificent view of the fair. Material for the construction of this building was provided by the Colorado Marble and Mining Company. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA V/37.

Monument in front of Colorado State Building. This monument is constructed of ores and building stones from various Colorado localities. Names of the major Colorado towns are carved at the top of the monument. From “World’s Fair Album.” Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

Souvenir card giving the location of Colorado state exhibits at the World’s Columbian Exposition. Courtesy Winterthur Museum Library.

Colorado governor Davis Waite and staff at the military parade, which was part of the dedication ceremonies on October 21, 1892. The following day, the governor took time to dedicate the Colorado Building. Waite had already gained fame for some radical ideas about how to solve the depression. From the World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated, December 1892. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

The Official Guide described the Cliff Dwellers exhibit as “one of two exhibits on the grounds to which an extra price of admission is permitted to be charged. . . . The exhibit is housed, so to speak, in the largest artificial mountain ever constructed, adjoining the Anthropological Building. It is an exact reproduction of Battle Rock in the MacElmo valley, Colorado. Entering a cavernous portal the visitor stands in a typical Colorado canyon, in the craggy fastnesses of which many of the finest cliff dwellings, on a scale of one-tenth, and with marvelous exactitude, are reproduced. Opening from the canyon are mysterious caverns and niches, wherein are exhibited fine paintings of the ruins in this wonder-land, executed by the artist of the expedition, Alexis J. Fournier.” According to Shepp’s guide, “A museum, in one of the chambers, contains many valuable relics of the race, such as mummies, skulls, bones, pottery, pieces of cloth, weapons and tools.” This instructive exhibit was described as “one of the worthiest entertainments of the Exposition.” C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA V/95.

Souvenir brochure from the Cliff Dwellers exhibit, showing its location at the fair next to the Anthropological Building. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl. “In the relic room are shown some thousands of examples of the weapons, cooking utensils, implements and mummified remains of the prehistoric people” (The Official Guide). Source: Graphic 9:26 518 (1449). Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

Rear view of the Cliff Dwellers exhibit with the Agriculture Building in the distance. There was a trail on the exhibit for pack animals and visitors to climb to Point Lookout. Admission to the exhibit was twenty-five cents, a catalogue could be purchased for ten cents, and guides were furnished free. This enterprise netted some eighty-seven thousand dollars for its owner, the H. Jay Smith & Company of Minneapolis. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/CDA V/89.

The Colorado State Mineral exhibit had a prominent location on the main floor of the Mines and Mining Building, near the south main entrance. Glass-front cases, which lined the two closed sides of the exhibit, contained ores from the major mining districts in the state. Above these cases was a series of large photographs of Colorado mining camps and districts, and geologic maps of Colorado. The three silver-crowned pagodas in this photograph were filled with “mineral wealth” from the state. C. D. Arnold photograph. Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division, WCE/ CDA VI/87.

William Shaw Ward (seated at desk) of Denver was chief of the Colorado Mining Department at the exposition. Along with his assistant, Victor C. Heikes, he was in charge of assembling and displaying Colorado’s mineral exhibit. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

The Breckenridge display of superb crystallized and wire gold, valued at sixteen thousand dollars, was one of the highlights of the Mines and Mining Building. The gold collection was displayed in the glass display cases located in the center of the exhibit. The owners of these specimens were Ed J. Collingwood, Charles A. Finding, P. L. Cummings, Robert Foote, George Crow, and Hiram Johnson, all of Breckenridge. Source: Shaw (1893), Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

Aspen’s Silver Queen statue was located in the western gallery of the Mines and Mining Building. The figure was made to represent a seventeen-year-old Colorado girl, which was the age of the state of Colorado in 1893. The statue was ten feet by twelve feet at the base and eighteen feet high from the base to the top of the American eagle, which was perched on the canopy. The composition of the statue seems to be the subject of some historical debate. One story has her being made of silver from the Mollie Gibson mine, from a single nugget of silver. Another story claims that she was made of zinc and other nonprecious metals. The queen is seated in a chariot, the front of which resembles an Egyptian barge. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

Above: The Colorado Gold Mine exhibit was located on the Midway Plaisance. A promotional flyer from Arizona encouraged visitors to see the exhibit, saying: “It is a most perfect model, to the finest detail, and is in constant operation, miners at work sinking, drifting, stoping and upraising: hoists and pumps running, etc. It is a complete model of the Saratoga, Colorado gold mine, was invented by Wm. Keast, is very instructive and should not be overlooked.” This photograph is of the exhibit after it was put on display at the Midwinter Fair in San Francisco in the winter of 1894. Courtesy of the California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento. Souvenir brochure from the Colorado Gold Mine exhibit in Chicago describing the model. It also included a glossary of mining terms. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

William Keast, his wife, Minnie, their son, William Jr., and daughter, Clara, in 1893. Having a portrait taken was an excellent way to preserve the memory of this great event and doubtless many other Coloradans took advantage of this opportunity. Courtesy Albert Farnley. Below: William Keast renovating the gold mine model on his back lawn in Portsmouth, England, in about 1933. Courtesy Albert Farnley.

William Keast describing the working of the Saratoga mine to an audience in the Gramophone and Radio Shop (which he owned) on Commercial Road in Portsmouth, England, in about 1934. Courtesy Albert Farnley.

Enlargement of a small section of the gold mine model to show detail. The model ran by electricity— everything from the robot miners to the compressed air drills worked at a push of a button. Photograph taken about 1934. Courtesy Albert Farnley.

Colorado’s Game exhibit. A book for the fair by the state’s agricultural department boldly declared: While the “wild game” of the Rocky Mountains “is steadily disappearing,” there “is a great reserve left to sportsman in Colorado.” The “forests and streams” of the Western Slope particularly beckoned. The Anthropological Building had a section of Natural History where several states, including Colorado, had exhibits of wildlife. B.W. Kilburn photograph. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

The Colorado Mineral Palace casket was on display in the parlor of the Woman’s Building. The casket was made of gold, silver, copper, and precious stones by Charles Otero, a Pueblo jeweler, for the women of the Columbian Exposition Club of Pueblo. Total value of the casket was four thousand dollars in 1893. The casket was provided to contain the nail and hammer used by Mrs. Potter Palmer to give the finishing touch to the Woman’s Building. World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated, February 1893. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

The Colorado exhibit in the Agriculture Building from Shepp’s World’s Fair Photographed. At the top of the exhibit is a band of grasses and grains, and along the sides are fan-shaped bunches of wheat. Visible in the foreground is a pyramid of yellow ears of corn, and to the right are panels of more than 160 varieties of grasses found in Colorado. Also in the exhibit were displays of seeds, nuts, many varieties of vegetables and fruits, flour, and wool. Courtesy of Karen and Mark Vendl.

The Colorado exhibit in the Horticulture Building included displays of different kinds of fruits, including grapes, of many varieties of color, and apples and pears in glass jars. The fair’s Official Guide highly praised the state exhibit, “a beautiful display of vegetables, fruits and native woods.” Photograph from Johnson’s A History of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Courtesy Chicago Public Library.

Mining companies from all over Colorado sent ore specimens to be displayed in the Colorado Mineral exhibit. This specimen of rich silver ore (ruby silver) from the Forest Queen mine, Irwin, Gunnison County, was one of several provided by F. W. Fuller. The Forest Queen mine received an award for these specimens. After the exposition, the Forest Queen specimens were donated to the new Field (Columbian) Museum in Chicago where they currently reside in the economic geology collection (specimen number E 1900). Mark Vendl photograph.

The Colorado School of Mines in Golden received this award for its Colorado mineral display that was located in the Mines and Mining Building. The exhibit included the recently acquired Jesse Randall mineral collection. Jesse Randall was the longtime editor of the Georgetown Courier newspaper, and a mineral collector and dealer. Mark Vendl photograph.

A pamphlet advertising the Aspen Pharmacy in Aspen, Colorado. This multipage brochure contains thirteen pictures of fair buildings, as well as information about its products and services. The Aspen Pharmacy billed itself as “The Finest and Largest Drug Stores in the West.” It was “replete with an exquisite assortment of Toilet Requisites, including Palmer’s New York Perfumes and Toilet Waters, . . . an endless variety of Imported and Domestic Hair Brushes, Bath Brushes and such articles as are to be found in a first-class Pharmacy.” Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

Alida Lansing’s advertising card showing where her souvenir collections of Colorado pressed wild flowers could be purchased. The State of Colorado paid Alida Lansing’s travel expenses to collect and preserve one thousand examples of the state’s wild flowers. Many women of the day were interested in botany. Wild flowers were easy to find and women could sketch and press them “with society’s approval.” Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

A card advertising Chase & Sanborn’s coffee. For the fair, Chase & Sanborn produced fifty different views portraying “all of the Government and State Buildings.” The back of the card also provided “simple rules for making coffee,” which included boiling the grounds and water for exactly three minutes. Courtesy Karen and Mark Vendl.

Chapter 5

Temptations Galore

Woman has been from the first a most important factor in the World’s Columbian Exposition. The Act of Congress creating the Exposition provided for a Board of Lady Managers, and in the administration of affairs, lady commissioners have been actively at work in every State of the Union, and in every foreign country. —Official Guide to the World’s Columbian Exposition Without quitting the sandy shores of Lake Michigan the visitor can inspect the Temple of Luxor, haggle for a curio with a swart follower of Mahomet, watch the war-dance of Dahomey’s dusky Amazonian belles, breathe the rare air and drink the entrancing scenery of the Bernese Oberland, stand awe-struck in Kilauea’s stupendous crater. —A Week at the Fair July 5th [Went] in to see the Turkish dancing girls on Midway Plaisance and also saw James Corbit [Corbett] & Prof. Donaldson box a bout July 6th Took in Ferris wheel 50 c also the streets of Cairo 15c Also the English soldiers tournament 50c all good July 8 Took in the Bedouin encampment also Old Vienna July 12 In Blarney Castle refreshment room getting away with a bottle of beer and a cheese sandwich-25c admission 20c did not kiss the Blarney stone it is only a piece about 6 by 8 in. costs 10c to Kiss it. It looks as though a million people slobbered over it. Was in diving bell sow at 10c and Colorado mine 10c. —The Lost Journals of Charles S. Armstrong


Temptations Galore

the fair offered many attractions for the visitor to see and sample, as has already been discussed. The Midway may have quickly attracted the interest of many, as it did Charles Armstrong. Walking down among the attractions, both on the grounds and in the Midway, must have been a treat in itself. Among the exhibits was one that stunned many a visitor, that of the German manufacturer of guns and munitions, the Krupp firm. One cannon, with a fortysix-foot barrel, could shoot a one-ton shell fifteen miles. Maj. Gen. John Scofield, commanding the United States Army, called these guns the “greatest peacemakers in the world” (Rocky Mountain News, June 1893). Another writer hoped the weapon would make people “realize to some degree, at least, the horrors of war.” One wag commented that it would prove a very effective weapon to defend Chicago in “the event of an attack by way of the lake” (Silverton Standard, 1893). Probably most people looked on with amazement and passed on to other exhibits. This was a time for peace, not war. America had not been engaged in a major conflict since the end of the Civil War in 1865. America had been steadily changing since peace had come, including a growing interest in woman’s rights and suffrage. The World’s Columbian Exposition gave them an opportunity to prove they could successfully handle a wide range of responsibilities. Although not as large a responsibility as some of them would have liked, they could point with pride to the major role they had played at the exposition. Despite perchance not meeting all their hopes, their status, responsibilities, and contributions proved greater than at any previous similar exposition. They had a Woman’s Building—designed, decorated, and managed entirely by them—and dedicated with “imposing ceremonies.” Hundreds of ladies singing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” closed the opening ceremony. Their 117-member Board of Lady Managers included representatives from every state and territory. One of Colorado’s lady managers was Mrs. William F. Patrick of Leadville. Her appointment to the Board of Lady Managers meant that she was invited to attend the dedication of the exposition buildings on October 11 and 12, 1892. The invitation she received to this event is shown at the beginning of this book. As reported in The Rocky Mountain News of January 1, 1892, Mrs. Patrick and the other lady managers from Colorado were charged with the responsibility of placing on exhibition at the Columbian Exposition specimens of every line of industry carried on in whole or in part by the women of our state, to show in how many different employments they are already participating, what proportion they bear to men in the production of our most universally used manufacturers, whether their work is as well done as man’s, and if so, if their compensation is the same for the same class of work.


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Considering that women did not yet have the vote, these ideas are quite progressive for 1892! Bertha Palmer (the socialite wife of one of Chicago’s “movers and shakers,” Potter Palmer) was elected president. The six-thousand-dollar salary Palmer received, as president of the Women’s Department, she donated to the “use of the ragged children of Chicago,” with which, if reports were true, the city abounded. She also succeeded in having children admitted free to see the fair on July 27. Being a friend of Chicago’s Jane Addams, of Hull House fame, and woman’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony, Palmer proved an energetic, resourceful, and extremely enthusiastic individual, who displayed the necessary executive ability. Without question a great choice, she stood up to the fair’s male leadership whenever necessary and guided the women’s participation to a successful role in the fair. Palmer insisted, at first, on integrating women’s exhibits with men’s, but, on this issue, she ran into a stone wall of male opposition. She finally conceded that point. A “masterful politician,” Palmer then set about to prove that women should have been included by displaying a multifaceted exhibit in the Woman’s Building. In her decision, however, a separate but equal treatment of women at the fair was symbolized. The women certainly showed, however, that their achievements belonged at the fair. During this time, women organized boards in every state and some foreign countries to collect exhibits. They gathered thousands of exhibits, organized them, and then successfully ran their Board of Lady Managers. The ablest women in each particular field were selected as judges. It literally became a duplicate fair within a fair. With the guidance of Palmer and others, the Woman’s Building, as one person noted, “overflowed with displays of women’s achievements in every imaginable branch of industry, science, and art.” So many groups begged for a place that eventually the building’s interior walls had to be ripped out, so that sixty organizations, ranging from the WCTU to the suffragettes, could crowd into the space. The building itself represented a milestone, being designed by Sophia Haden, the first woman graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in architectural design. Not all women’s works, though, were to be found in their building. A number were entered into the competition with men in the appropriate great buildings, a strategy that the lady managers approved. The obvious goal was to show that women were capable of being at least equal with men in almost every department of human activity. Might they dare say superior in some ways! Their building, meanwhile, served as a gathering place for women, as well as a source of pride. There were those who were disappointed that the fair did not go far enough in promoting women’s causes, and a few, no doubt, felt it went too far. In the end, the Columbian Exposition helped to promote woman’s suffrage,

Temptations Galore

aided in launching them in careers previously considered unthinkable or unsuitable, and moved women along slowly toward equality between the sexes. It can be truly said that the “fair helped position women as a force to be reckoned with in all arenas as the world crossed into the twentieth century” (Weimann 1981). Palmer and her associates must have been pleased. The woman’s suffrage, equal opportunity, and equal rights struggles had not been won but, nonetheless, progress had been made. Old ways and old ideas started, hesitantly, to give way. In truth, Bertha Palmer and her coworkers could be proud of their efforts. She also helped organize the World’s Congress of Representative Women as part of the fair. That congress featured speakers who offered a wide variety of viewpoints on such topics as financial planning, preventive medicine, and educational needs. Women, the Victorian symbol of home, mother, and culture, were branching out under the fair’s banner. Not all visitors necessarily concurred with the women’s proud feelings. Recent high school graduate Friend Pitts Williams, after visiting their building, wrote that he saw some “useful patents” and several paintings that showed skill. “Taking all in all,” however, “I was not very much interested in this exhibition.” Toe-tapping, syncopated ragtime tunes came to the fair, much to the concern of the exposition managers who held high hopes for “serious concerts.” To reach this goal, they hired Theodore Thomas, the nation’s preeminent orchestral conductor and conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As musical director, his ambition and theirs was also to bring “serious” European classical music to American audiences. Fairgoers would swallow culture along with entertainment. Working diligently, Thomas secured some of the finest American and international musicians and soloists to perform in a variety of concerts. Fairgoers would have little of that. The fair’s best intentions failed to excite visitors, which undermined Thomas’s and the directors’ expectations. The classical concerts failed to generate much interest. They were not what the audiences expected or in their eyes needed or enjoyed. Those attitudes, and financial constraints, ended such cultural efforts, at a monetary loss of nearly ninety thousand dollars. Public indifference did not extend to rousing marches and those popular 1890s sentimental ballads, however. On marched John Phillip Sousa and his band to play for well-attended open-air concerts, which included sing-alongs at the conclusion. The fair even energized musicians to compose—the “World’s Exposition Grand March” being one example. Even a black pianist, Scott Joplin, captured the attention of Midway patrons when he played those catchy, syncopated ragtime tunes including some of his own. Sinful? Churchgoing folks suspected that music came winging right out of the bordellos and corrupted America’s youth as they marched to that beat. The youth thought differently and listened and danced. The World’s Fair provided more than just fun, exhibits, new inventions and “things,” architecture, and mysterious people beckoning. The World’s Congress


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Auxiliary convened in the building that housed the Art Institute of Chicago after the exposition to get away, apparently, from the hubbub of the fairgrounds. From May 15 to October 28, a variety of speakers presented over six thousand speeches and papers. They discussed a sweeping spectrum of topics, including scientific, literary, and religious—Catholics, Protestants, and Jews exchanged ideas with Buddhists, Mohammedans, and other religious sects. The fair sponsored congresses that varied to an amazing degree—Public Health, Beer, Engineers, Philanthropy, Youth, Inventors, Writers, Shorthand, and Medicine, for example. That lion in the winter, black abolitionist, leader, and writer Frederick Douglass, came to discuss the plight of the blacks, as he had now for over fifty years, trying to make white America understand. Sunday, August 25, was designated “colored people’s day,” and Douglass addressed “The Race Problem in America.” “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced . . . where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe” (Miller 1993). Another session featured a young scholar and university professor from Wisconsin, Frederick Jackson Turner, who turned his attention to the American frontier and the end of its era. As he pointed out, the 1890 census returns indicated such a development had transpired. Why? “The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward, explain American development.” He would later state (in 1896) that the West’s “capacity for great achievement make it an open minded and safe arbiter of the American destiny.” Turner’s hypothesis began to shift attention from the large urban areas of the East to the open spaces of the West as being key to the country’s development. Thus was born the discussion of the frontier’s role in American history. Both men, as well as others, spoke for the present and looked to the future during their presentations. That fit perfectly with the intention of the World Columbian Exposition’s organizers. Francis Bellamy, editor of the famous Youth’s Companion, wanted to get schoolchildren from across the country involved in the quadricentennial of Columbus’s arrival. Failing to set aside dedication day as a national holiday, he urged children to congregate in schools and churches to celebrate that achievement. Whether the little urchins did so remains unknown, but Bellamy left something that has become part of Americana. He drafted the original “Pledge of Allegiance” (1892) and published it in the magazine. For the first time children pledged “allegiance” and the next year the number increased to hundreds of thousands as a part of Columbus Day celebrations. It was not that the fair did not stir controversy. It most definitely did. Chicago Methodists became upset when they learned that the Roman Catholics had been allotted twenty thousand square feet of exhibit space, far more than the

Temptations Galore

Methodists. In a huff, they announced, “our application was in long before, we feel slighted and the probability is that we will make no exhibit.” That proved a tempest in a teapot compared to the “big” issue. Citing dreadful, sacrilegious desecration of the Lord’s Day, some Christians created a hornet’s nest of opposition over the fair staying open on Sunday. Protests emerged immediately, when it was rumored that the directors planned to ignore the Sabbath in the name of profit, or, as some of the Christians cried, in the name of Baal and Mammon. Protests mounted in 1892 and Loveland’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union joined the fray in August of that year. It was all for money to have it open on Sunday and allow the “sale of intoxicating liquors.” The women hoped that the fair would listen to “the really ‘solid’ people of this country. The churches, the temperance societies, the Christian Endeavorors [sic] have spoken” (Rocky Mountain News). As the fair’s opening neared, protests began and reached their crescendo in May. The American Sabbath Union chimed in, claiming it represented twenty million Christians. The organization telegraphed President Grover Cleveland, requesting that he prevent the fair’s proposed Sabbath opening. At the same time, the dispute moved toward the courts. Management countered by pointing out that many laborers had no other day to go to the exposition, and, perchance more importantly, they also needed the increased revenues. From pulpits throughout the land, ministers thundered against this defilement of the Lord’s anointed day. But not everyone agreed with them, ministers and others alike. As the fair was about to open, the Saguache Chronicle (March 23, 1893) chimed in with its opinion. “Our ship of state is rapidly drifting away from her constitutional moorings, to anchor at last to the port of religious intolerance.” Some thought it appropriate to give people a non-working day to see the fair. The issue ended up in the courts in May, where a federal court of appeals finally ruled, a month later, that because the fair was “not a charitable trust,” opponents could not prevent its opening every day. Neither side really won. Hard feelings carried the day. Out in Colorado, the June 8 Greeley Tribune concluded that bitterness over the Sunday opening fight remained. After the first lowly-attended Sunday, the directors tried to figure out “why so many people stayed away.” The small attendance “was galling,” even when a special admission price of twenty-five cents was offered to “peep at the grounds.” Commerce had won over piety, but Sunday goers found a reduction of facilities and the twenty-two Sundays the exposition was opened continued to be financially losing days. Having won the fight, the directors stayed the course, regardless. Despite the controversy, the country’s foremost evangelistic team, the famous Dwight Moody and his choirmaster, Ira Sankey, looked upon the fair as a wonderful


Chapter 5


occasion to “bring new souls to Christ.” Joined by other Chicago ministers, they held services and tent revivals, from the fair outward throughout the town city beyond into the suburbs. Not missing a beat, they conducted in the languages of the urban, polyglot immigrant population (Appelbaum 1980). A “besieging army,” as one observer called them, the revivals were designed to stop the spread of lasciviousness—the “belly dance,” piously described by the fair as “the movement of the dance is peculiar; the feet are held close together, and only the body answers to the music.” The God-fearing folks described it quite differently. Other sinful sights also caught their attention. While not supportive of the fair, that “incarnation of secular evil,” which appealed to the “weakness of the flesh,” Moody judged the event to be an unsurpassed opportunity to battle for the Lord (Downey 2002). The fair, indeed, seemed to be a tremendous evangelical opportunity for worried Christians. Though it contained a “sinful” nature, the fair’s potential for a Christian revival spurred them on. Moody claimed, by the end of the six months, that the effort was drawing in 150,000 people a week to hear the “words of Christ.” One of his lieutenants in this “war,” former Chicago Colts baseball player Billy Sunday, learned his lessons well that summer and launched his own “get right with God” campaigns and fame on the “sawdust trail” (Weimann 1981). Nothing proved more upsetting to Moody, and to many other ministers and their supporters, than the Plaisance, or the Midway, which covered eighty acres at a right angle from the exposition to Washington Park. Almost six hundred feet wide and nearly a mile long, it beckoned, in the words of the Chicago Tribune (April 30, 1893), as the “Royal Road of Gaiety.” The New York Times (June 19) captured it perfectly: “The late P. T. Barnum should have lived to see this day.” Visitors swarmed to sample its sights, sounds, food, and entertainment. The attractions were many and officially classified under the auspices of the exposition’s Department of Ethnology. Visitors received, in theory, a peek into the nonwhite world. Many came away convinced that this world was “barbaric and childlike,” which certainly reinforced the concept of white superiority, rulingclass authority, and progress of western civilization, when measured against “less civilized” people, and, in a sense, against that “hot” topic of the day, Darwinism. Strolling down the Midway lured the visitor into a potpourri of enticements, often including admission fees. However, as the Official Guide piously stated, it had “no connection to the Exposition proper excepting as side attractions.” That did not matter. To many it meant the fair. Walking through the Midway’s entrance directly behind the Woman’s Building, one quickly encountered crowds, because this reigned perhaps as the most popular attraction. The Irish Village, Japanese Bazaar, New England Log Cabin, Irish Industries, and Electric Scenic Theater captured visitors’ attention. A little farther on, “The Panorama of the Bernese Alps,” Chinese Village and Theater, Ostrich Farm,

Temptations Galore

Brazilian Music Hall, Sitting Bull’s Cabin, Lapland Village, Vienna Café, and Military Encampment lay in wait, along with other temptations. The vast majority of fairgoers had never seen such sights, heard such a babble of languages, or smelled such smells, intriguing or otherwise. Along the way, storekeepers beckoned visitors with exotic items to sell, but because of fair policy, no garish commercial signs marred the fair or the Midway. Concessionaires had to be licensed, and they were monitored to be sure that everything was on the up and up. Historian and writer Hubert Howe Bancroft tried to describe the Midway to his readers. [Visitors] would be met on their way by German and Hungarian bands, by the discord of . . . camel drivers, donkey-boys, dancing girls from Cairo and Algiers, from Samoa and Brazil, with men and women of all nationalities, some lounging in oriental indifference, some shrieking in unison or trying to out shriek each other, in the hope of transferring his superfluous change from the pocket of the unwary pilgrim. (Bancroft 1893)

Along the way in this menagerie, a young Harry Houdini escaped from seemingly impossible situations, and “Gentleman Jim” Corbett gave boxing exhibitions, until management closed him down in July for presenting a show “not of such a character” to be approved. A dwarf elephant twenty-five-inches high intrigued many onlookers; capturing attention, as well, was a two-headed pig. A model of Blarney Castle, where, for a fee, the customer could kiss a piece of the Blarney stone, lured others who were not too upset with the slobbering that had gone on before them. The whole thing proved to be blarney as it turned out to be a segment of a Chicago paving block. Midway strollers looked about and saw many attractions to whet their interest and lure them into a show or exhibit. Some God-fearing folks thought they had ventured into Sodom and Gomorrah right there on the Midway, with eternal damnation staring them in the face. What they saw, or feared they saw, seemed temptation in its vilest form, seductively beckoning the unwary, the depraved, the innocent, and the young. The “gateway to hell,” as some pious folk described it, opened on the “Street in Cairo,” the Moorish Palace, and the Turkish Village. In each could be found mysterious, intriguing inhabitants. They captured attention and publicity and aroused concerns about the fate of Americans who ventured into such “dens.” We are now in the theatre; all here is strange; the walls are decorated in Moorish and Egyptian patterns . . . back and forth on the stage, the dancing-girls flit, their bright skirts flashing with their supple movements. . . . these girls [are] splendid specimens of oriental beauty. The upper part of their bodies is covered with a


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light open-work garment, which gives free play to the muscles; no corsets have ever imprisoned their natural waists. (Burg 1976)


What would happen when men witnessed the “plump and piquant” damsels gyrating in the “danse du ventre”? When they learned that this translated as “belly dance,” the attraction only increased. Dance they did, but despite legend, no one named “Little Egypt” danced at the fair. The Algerian and Tunisian villages, as well as the Street in Cairo, offered oriental wares, in short, “everything found in bazaars of the wondrous East,” plus concerts, mosques, houses, and other views of these “mystic” lands, “where civilization antedates all authentic history” (Harris 1993). Maybe, but the “exotic women” and dancing girls caught the male public’s fancy. As observers described it, spectators saw that “every motion of her body is in the illustration of her animalism,” in the “voluptuous” theater “where are given the wild, weird performances peculiar to the race.” Or, as another report stated, “to the stroller through the Bazaar of all nations there came today a rare revelation of beauty—a Turkish woman’s leg. The chance discovery lent a new interest to the great international show.” As one described it, men and boys from farm, village, and city swarmed to see the “wild, sensuous” show in a thousand-seat hall. Distressed Victorian women—the mothers, the sweethearts, the female friends, sisters, and wives of those male patrons—recoiled in disgust, scandalized, angered, appalled, and shocked. The Board of Lady Managers, meanwhile, indignantly decried such an immoral exhibition next to the fairgrounds (Bolotin 1992). Said one, such “a performance should not be permitted in any place of public entertainment.” Another reproached, “no ordinary Western woman can look on these performances with anything but horror” (Burg 1976). By early August, the Fair Council investigated the “sundry indecent and immoral features of the Midway.” They found what they sought and closed the Persian Palace because of its “decadent and licentious character” and it “was not in harmony with the tone of the exposition or the American code of morals” (Rudell 1984). But they could not keep it closed. The Persian government sued to have it reopened and won. Sol Bloom, who orchestrated the Midway exhibits, recalled, “When the public learned that the literal translation was ‘belly dance’ they delightedly concluded that it must be salacious and immoral. The crowds poured in. I had a gold mine” (Rudell 1984). Indeed, he did. “Beautiful Arab Girls” who performed “languorous love dances” were not the only attractions. Snake charmers, jugglers, music (“loud rattle tambourines, and shrill discordant Oriental lutes”), camel and donkey rides, shops, and parades competed for attention. The spirit of the Midway was summarized perfectly as “everyone with the brakes off ” (Bancroft 1893).

Temptations Galore

But that was not all. Two other major attractions along the Midway tempted visitors. The balloon ride proved the most expensive of the fair’s attractions. For two dollars each, passengers soared aloft to a height of 1,493 feet (note the fact that it soared 1,492 feet in the fair’s first weeks to honor Columbus and his “discovery”) in a tethered balloon, gaining a “magnificent view of the grounds and the surrounding country.” Then they had their photographs taken as well. For 25 cents, one could enter an enclosure and watch, each hour, the three ascensions, providing, of course, there was “good weather.” The balloon was a moneymaking attraction, until one day a powerful windstorm sent it crashing to earth. Terrified passengers scrambled out, while equally terrified onlookers gasped in horror and shock. And so ended its fair career. A near neighbor on the Midway had a much more successful and longer career—the world’s first Ferris wheel. Sitting squarely in the middle of the Midway’s main street and towering over everything, it could hardly be missed. The Chicago Tribune (June 18, 1893) stated that the visitor undoubtedly “asks from afar off, what on earth is that?” Answering the question, the paper let its readers know “the wheel is the landmark of the Fair.” It had been built to rival the Eiffel Tower, the hit of the Paris Exposition of a few years earlier. The “World’s Greatest Ride” emerged a sensation at the World’s Fair. More than 1.4 million riders paid fifty cents for two revolutions in one of the wheel’s thirty-six cars, each one “larger than a Pullman Palace Car.” The forty passengers in each car reclined in their wood-veneered cabin lounging in swivel chairs and looking out “paneled plate glass windows.” They slowly soared 250 feet into the air, providing for one and all an exciting, sweeping view of the Midway, White City, Lake Michigan, and the Chicago skyline. Ringed with three thousand “electric bulbs,” the Ferris wheel stood out among all the attractions, day and night. Getting his wheel to the fair had not been an easy task for engineer George Ferris, who envisioned the idea years before. Finally able to convince the fair board that his “wheel” would be a featured attraction, Ferris set to work to turn an idea into a reality. It took him five months, with his own money, to assemble it. The Ferris wheel was amazing with an axle, for example, “the largest steel forging ever made, weighing fifty-six tons.” As one magazine described it, “This is a novelty in amusement structures, and is built entirely of steel, somewhat resembling a huge bicycle wheel hung between two towers.” Nonetheless, it was worth the effort in fun, publicity, excitement, and profit for Ferris. The thrill, the sensation of soaring so high up into the air offered a wonder and an excitement not soon forgotten. What Americans had been up this high? Not many of the riders would ever reach that height again. It seemed, some thought, that they almost became birds viewing mere mortals on earth.


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“Come, Come, Come to the Fair.” Americans and foreign visitors did in record numbers. As they walked about, they encountered a new world in a variety of unexpected and amazing ways, much as Illinois farmer Bert Bark had discovered cotton candy. A new caramel-coated popcorn snack, dubbed Cracker Jack, tempted one and all, and a new breakfast food, Shredded Wheat, added variety to their morning meal. Fairgoers sampled Juicy Fruit gum and tasted a new beer, which won one of the exposition’s “top” beer awards, Pabst Blue Ribbon. To speed preparation of breakfast, which was always a hassle because it was a big meal for both the rural and the urban working man, Aunt Jemima’s pancake box promised to contain everything the cook needed to make the “perfect pancake”—and her syrup was there, too! The vertical file, first displayed at the fair, improved office “archives,” and men and women eventually gained appreciation of the handy, brand-new zipper. Speaking of the housewives’ workplace, the fair displayed the earliest allelectric kitchen, including an amazing wonder, the automatic dishwasher. Three companies showed electric vehicles, and General Electric demonstrated electric locomotives. Electrically powered surgical and dental devices, hair curlers, and new uses for the electric light in the home came to the fair. How exciting was electricity? Nearly seven hundred companies exhibited an amazing number of electrical goods. Electricity provided a host of other new ideas, including calculating machines, brushes for relieving headaches, incubators for hatching eggs, chairs for “human” executions, and what might pass as an early “fax” machine. The “great dynamo,” which kept all those lights glowing, “showed electricity,” its advocates proclaimed, “is destined to displace steam and the prime mover of modern industrial civilization.” The fair indeed “heralded the transition” from steam power, animal power, and human labor to electricity and fossil fuels. The first ever long-distance call between Chicago and New York was followed by the innovative live music concerts played by an orchestra in New York and transmitted to the fair via a long-distance phone line. When fairgoers walked around the Electricity Building, they heard music broadcast through a “mammoth telephone” suspended from the roof. What eventually became the motion picture arrived with Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope. In reality at that moment, it was a peep show device. Probably few visitors grasped what some of these new inventions, concepts, and devices meant to the future. Souvenirs have always been popular with fairgoers, and the World’s Fair offered a potpourri from which to select to tempt the buyers’ taste and fit their pocketbooks. The list included the following: books, pincushions, post cards, medals, paperweights, coin banks, matchboxes, calling cards, stereopticons, glassware, photographs, coins—and the inventory stretches on and on. The Midway

Temptations Galore

provided its own exotic, foreign keepsakes to fairgoers. No matter what was purchased, some of it proved cheap and tawdry, while others were tasteful, even elegant, and, for the time, costly. Chicago also provided a variety of entertainment for its visitors, including a thriving Red Light district. Looking back over those prosperous years, prostitute “Chicago May” reminisced: “The World’s Fair was a gold mine for me and my friends during the years 1892 and 1893. The first of those years we nicked the builders, the second the visitors. And what dreadful things were done by some of the girls. I think Rome at its worst had nothing on Chicago during those lurid days” (Sharpe 1928). Carrie Watson, Chicago’s foremost madam, did not stoop to that level of debauchery and criminal activity. After increasing the number of her bedrooms, she doubled her “staff.” Gaslights and continual police patrols made it safe to be in her part of the Red Light district, something the city fathers wanted to make sure would happen. Free-spending visitors need not worry there about life and money, beyond what they might spend. For the rest of the district, however, one comment will suffice: “Here at all hours of day and night women could be seen at doors and windows, frequently half-clad, making an exhibition of themselves and using vulgar and obscene language” (Miller 1996). Let the visitor beware! Longtime Chicago politician Carter Harrison, then serving another term as mayor, was a “friend” of the Red Light district, with its cribs, parlor houses, saloons, and low-class variety theaters, and saw to it that the district prospered. Not remiss, Chicago beckoned, ready in all respects to relieve fairgoers of their money. Some may have visited the district—and other “dangerous” parts of the city— and never left alive. One of the interesting particulars about the Chicago World’s Fair was that hundreds of people simply disappeared, never to return home or be heard from again. Speaking of entertainment, people visiting the fair could take in an afternoon game of the National League’s Chicago Colts (today’s Cubs), who were playing a strange season, featuring two different ballparks. On Monday through Saturday, they played games in the South Side Park, and in the West Side Grounds for Sunday home games. For this reason, or others, it would not be a particularly good season for the team, one that concluded with a record of 56–71. The letdown came after they won the pennant five times in the previous decade, as their fans went “baseball crazy.” One of the mistakes the fair organizers made was turning down William Cody’s wish to be part of the fair. The American public already was yearning for the legendary West of yesteryear. Buffalo Bill, that star of dime novels and the stage and, since 1883, his world renowned Wild West show, promptly secured rights to fifteen acres of land adjacent to the exposition.


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Americans already knew him, but, if not, the publicity of his promise, after the fair jilted him, caught their attention: “Colonel Cody has outdone himself in his efforts to make the exhibition outshine all its previous brilliant successes.” Although he had toured—and “conquered”—Europe and England, “he feels that success is not complete until Chicago is subdued.” Beating the fair opening, his show commenced on April 3 and, in the following six months, reportedly made a million dollars profit. Cody gave the public the West they imagined. Starting with the cowboy band playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the “Grand Review,” the show continued through the traditional Indian attack on the stagecoach and ended with the grand finale, the “Battle of the Little Big Horn.” Of course, Buffalo Bill, who was himself a western celebrity of no small repute, was everywhere to be seen. The public loved it. Now they had the chance to see Native Americans, who only a few years before had stubbornly, and often successfully, fought the United States Cavalry, and sample a West that they would never experience. At the fair, too, Cody, a master showman, first introduced his “Congress of Rough Riders of the World.” This included daring acts by Cossacks, among others, and broadened the appeal of Buffalo Bill’s show. His provided one of the few activities that looked at the past, rather than the promising present and the exciting future. But Cody touched a facet of the American character, of the western American saga, with himself as both a real-life hero and a renowned, largerthan-life legend. Already familiar with dime novels, newspaper and magazine articles, and a host of western stories, Americans envisioned a “gunsmoke and gallop” West, a land and time unlike anything they had experienced. That image Cody’s show magnificently reinforced. Turner’s scholarly study on the American frontier and its role in American history might explain the frontier’s end, but in the public’s mind it lived on, never to die, and galloped into the “American legend.” As the fair drew to its close, a list was compiled from every department recording the variety of incidents and accidents that had marred the day for an unfortunate visitor. It provided an amazing medical history. Some 11,602 visitors had been treated at the fair’s hospital, averaging about 64 per day that included “820 cases of diarrhea, 434 of indigestion, 365 of foreign bodies alighting in eyes, 169 cases involving teeth that ‘hurt like hell’” (Harris et al. 1993). Security forces, meanwhile, had been equally as busy as their medical colleagues. 954 arrests on various charges, 438 persons found guilty 421 cases of “petty pilfering,” with the guilty parties “put off the grounds after paying for goods taken”

Temptations Galore

shadowy, suspicious persons reported, 539 Number of persons [caught] climbing over fence into grounds, 408

Then those interesting tidbits of humorous or sad statistics come into play. Reports of children lost, 30, children restored to parents, 20 Reports of Zulu acting improperly, 1 Patrol wagons colliding with ambulance, 2 Counterfeit coins, 10 (Bolotin and Laing 1992, 157)

Add to these totals the five employees who were killed and the three fetuses that were found, plus a spectacular fire that destroyed the Cold Storage Building and killed thirteen firefighters as well as four workers, and a glimpse of another side of the fair emerges. According to at least one report, one youngster was never claimed! A tragedy lurked around the fair as well, the dark, evil story of Herman Mudgett, alias Dr. H. H. Holmes, who built and owned the World’s Fair Hotel. Author Erik Larson in his The Devil in the White City described him as a murderer, “one of the most prolific in history and harbinger of an American archetype, the urban serial killer.” Mudgett admitted to killing twenty-seven. As Larson noted, however, “how many people he killed will never be known” (Larson 2004). Whether any Coloradans were among them remains a mystery. The excitement, the triumphs of today, the visions of tomorrow, the fun, the entertainment, all had to come to an end. The start of the fair’s last week ended on a tragic note when Chicago’s Mayor Harrison, who had done so much to promote the event, was assassinated by a deranged office seeker. Instead of a grand finale week, the World’s Columbian Exposition came to a sad, depressing departure. As the Boulder Camera (October 31, 1893) solemnly observed, “it was closed in sorrow over the assassination with flags at half staff since Sunday.” Yet the article perceptively concluded that “the glory of the exposition has been woven into the history of the world’s progress.” That sorrow temporarily ruined what had been a wonderful summer. But fond memories lingered and brightened, as the weeks turned into months and the months into years. Maybe former fairgoers remembered more than had actually happened, more than what they had seen. They did remember that “all nations of the earth” participated and honored the United States in a grand “coming out” party. Regardless, it had been amazing. Several people who had been there tried to explain, as best they could, what they witnessed and experienced. After pushing our way through noisy crowds of street vendors, hackmen and rumbling cars, deafened by the roar of the elevated trains above our heads, we enter the gates of our long-looked for Elysium. The roar of the outside world,


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indeed, had died away, and the peace and quiet within the walls was a blissful contrast to the Babel outside. Marian Shaw, teacher The power of the pen is proverbial, but how inadequate and feeble an instrument it is to describe the picture presented by a bird’s eye view of the Exposition Grounds and Buildings. Such beauty, such grace, such coloring! Does there exist to-day, has there ever existed, either on canvas of the painter or in the brain of the poet, an ideal paradise that will compare with this reality? James Pierce, author Write up the World’s Fair? As well attempt to dip up the Atlantic Ocean with a four ounce graduate and keep a record of measurement. To do it thoroughly, a writer must need to have his “three score and ten” duplicated, and then he would say his time was too short to finish the work. Abraham Bogardus, photographer


Altogether, it had been a breathtaking, astonishing six months. Most visitors had the time of their lives and long remembered the glimpse they had of the best of America—past, present, and future. It proved a watershed in their biblical lifespan of “threescore years and ten,” a highlight to be savored, and something that they would long recall, as they moved on into that unknown future.

Chapter 6

Coloradans Go to the Fair Their Experiences and Opinions

The white city transformed tonight into a city of rainbow tints. —Reporter, Rocky Mountain News, May 14, 1893 “Take in the wonders of the world’s fair.” —Resident, Fairplay, Colorado, Fairplay Plume, September 7, 1893 “Where they will devote a couple of weeks drinking in the wonders of that eighth wonder of the world.” —Greeley Family, Greeley Tribune, October 12, 1893 It is the whole world on a thousand acres. I am dazzled, captivated and bewildered. —Horace Benson, Denver Attorney

enticed and fascinated, a number of excited Coloradans enthusiastically hastened to Chicago and the fair’s attractions, despite the time and distance involved, the expenses, and the deepening depression relentlessly clamping down on their state. Some, like Durango banker Alfred Camp, went, as his wife Estelle pointed out, because “he feels the need of relaxation from business cares.” Others went out of curiosity (it was the “thing to do”), and some, no doubt, went because they believed it to be the opportunity of a lifetime. A few couples went there on their honeymoon; all told, there existed probably several score justifications to visit the White City. In all cases, the original spelling and grammar, or lack thereof, have been retained in their quotations and stories.


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Many times, what they saw and experienced lived up to their expectations, but sometimes it left them feeling a bit disappointed. However, for most, it proved an experience that they would long remember and cherish. When the fair started, former governor John Routt, who had been so instrumental in gaining statehood back in the 1870s—and who had been the first elected governor—went to Chicago. He returned home in mid-May to give Coloradans his opinion of the World’s Fair in an interview with a reporter from Denver’s Weekly Republican (May 11, 1893). I got to Chicago the day before the World’s Fair was dedicated. I did not attend the dedicatory exercises. I waited until the day after before going to the grounds. The Colorado exhibits are not all in place yet. The marble balustrade and the columns of stone and marble about the exhibit space are already up. Mr. Ward has quite a number of minerals now on display but the bulk of the exhibit remains yet to be placed. The work upon the agricultural exhibit is progressing nicely under the care of Mr. Faurot. I think, for the quality of grains shown, it will be the finest agricultural exhibit at the fair. It is not so extensive as the exhibits of Iowa, Illinois and other farming states, but our grain, grown under irrigation, is undoubtedly finer. Mr. Wilmarth, chief of the Historical department, has got none of his exhibits in position. He hopes to have the display completely arranged within ten days.


Continuing with his interview, the former governor (who had just finished his second term, 1891–1893) praised the Colorado Building. The Colorado building suited me well. It is a mere pigmy in comparison with other state buildings, but it is as handsome as any of them. There are shade trees about and a lawn in front 150 feet broad and sown in bluegrass, which is coming up finely.

Answering some of the criticism that had surfaced about the Colorado Building, Routt pointed to the Illinois Building, which had cost nearly five hundred thousand dollars. Such an expenditure, I consider a lavish and altogether useless outlay, especially in view of the fact that all the buildings on the grounds will be torn down when the fair is over. The Colorado building is plenty large for all practical purposes. The mail of Colorado visitors to the fair will be sent there.

At the end, he offered a good piece of advice to Coloradans who planned to go to Chicago to see the fair. I would advise no one to visit the fair this month. Some of the buildings are not completed yet, and a large number of the displays are not in. The backward spring and the bad weather have retarded work. The best time to visit the fair, I

Coloradans Go to the Fair

should say, will be about the middle of June. All exhibits will be in place by that time. Then the weather will be pleasant and the summer not yet advanced into the sultry and unhealthful season.

A few days later an unidentified Colorado letter writer, who had just visited the fair, felt compelled to defend the state’s exhibits in a letter to the Rocky Mountain News (May 13). “[Colorado] is as far advanced” as many others, the writer declared, and “the Centennial State is represented in a manner of which we can be proud and criticism to the contrary the statement is not justified.” While the Colorado exhibits “are incomplete so are those of every other state. The truth is the fair is far from being in order.” Frank Janes, of the Colorado Traffic Association, returned to Denver in midMay after several days in Chicago, and had visited the fair. As a result of his observations, he recommended to his readers of the Rocky Mountain News: I would not advise anybody to go to the Fair for two weeks at least. I was especially interested in the Colorado display, and am glad to say that it is the best arranged and most complete state exhibit on the grounds. The Colorado exhibit is not so large as some others, but it has been selected with great care and is one of which any Coloradan may well be proud.

Although enthusiastic about what he saw, the proprietor of Denver’s American House, Charles H. Smith, told the News later that month: It is a big show, bigger than the world will ever see again for 100 years to come. I was on the grounds every day for nearly a month and although the exhibits will not all be in place for nearly a month or more, there are buildings where a person may remain a whole day without growing tired of viewing the exhibits. As to Colorado’s exhibit, the mining and agricultural departments compare favorably with those of other states, but the Colorado building is a great disappointment. The building was still unopened last Saturday [May 27], the visitor being confronted by a card reading: “Go to the back door.”

Smith also pointed out that the “people of Chicago are surprised at the relatively, comparatively, small number of people from various parts of the country.” Former Colorado inspector of mines James Hutchinson wrote the Aspen Weekly Times on May 18 about his impressions of the mineral exhibits. “The mineral exhibit from New South Wales is the best in the exposition. Colorado’s exhibit is splendid as to details but not large enough in bulk. It is much better than expected and the criticism I have to make is, the Colorado building is too small and is not well furnished.” Also toward the middle of May, S. B. Harter wrote to Lewis Herzinger, his longtime partner dating back to Caribou mining days in the early 1870s, describing his impressions of the fair. He and his wife were pleased with their lodging.


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“We pay $1 each per day, and 50 cents for meals. They set a good table at those figures, and we have no reason to complain.” In his letter the reader can see his excitement, but he also proved equivocal about the fair, particularly Colorado’s contribution. You can get a cup of good coffee, with cream and sugar, for 10 cents. Everything is on the European plan, and you can get a good square meal on the ground for from 50 cents to 75 cents. We visited the Transportation Building first, where all the vehicles, both home and foreign are on exhibit. Some of those European chariots that the crowned heads ride in are in this building and cost thousands of dollars, also all the old and new wagons ever used in the countries represented. We also visited Mineral Hall, and find most of the countries represented as well as our own. Colorado seems to not have a very good exhibit. She is lacking quite a good deal. . . . The exhibits are all shown up in fine style. All foreign exhibits are seemingly well represented, and are ahead of ours so far as I have gone.


While visiting the Manufactures Building, Harter concluded: “It seems to me that the foreign countries out do our country in the manufacture of fine goods. Some of the finest articles and prettiest things I have ever seen are in this building.” All in all, though, Harter was impressed. “The Fair will be all that has been said for it. It is simply immense and is worth all it will cost one to visit it, for such a show can be seen but seldom during a life time.” Then he acknowledged, “I think now it would have been better for us to have waited two weeks longer as everything will then be in shape.” An unidentified Coloradan left this impression of the fair apparently after a mid- or late May visit. The author worried about the fact that considerable “quantity” of exhibit materials had “not yet been delivered the clutches of the railway yards” (Rocky Mountain News). Prof. N. B. Coy has Colorado’s educational exhibit well forward and it will compare advantageously with those of other states. There are fine pictures of leading institutions and schools, both public and private. . . . Noticeable in the fine art department is Powers’ statue of “The Closing era,” presented by the women of Colorado. It has just been uncovered and receives much admiration. The Women’s department as a whole is sadly behind, and Colorado is in the same fix as her sisters. So far as the state exhibit is in place it leaves nothing to be desired.

Silverton’s J. N. Pascoe wrote a letter that provided several insights. He complained in his June 24 article in the Standard that “it has rained nearly every day since I have been here.” Furthermore a “great many fair exhibits are not ready

Coloradans Go to the Fair

and it will be over a month [he estimated] before everything is complete. Even the band stand is still unfinished,” which interfered with his musical pleasure. “Yesterday I heard the National Band, under the leadership of Sousa, rendering some lovely music while the carpenters were hammering and pounding on the same stand.” There was always the individual who went to the fair, but felt it was nothing like his old hometown, in this case Denver. Ed Monash got back from the world’s fair yesterday [June 21]. He says the white city is a marvel of perfectness and beauty, the exhibit in all respect the wonder of the age, but that Denver is busiest, cleanest and financially the healthiest city in America. And there is no better judge than Ed. (Silverton Standard)

Two Greeley families returned home in late June with enthusiastic reports about their experiences. One described it excitedly as the “eighth wonder of the world” and tried to make his listeners all eager to attend the great exposition. Another family concurred, “The Columbian exposition is a sight that every citizen should if possible witness” (Greeley Tribune, June 1893). The Fairplay Flume (June 29) topped even those reports. “Imagination becomes stupid when it attempts to grasp the dazzling splendors of the Columbian Exposition. Contemplating it, one sees the genius of civilization in all nations. Nature and art in their highest and most perfect development; everything to fascinate the eye and lend inspiration.” How could Coloradans stay away? Denver attorney Horace Benson, after his visit, excitedly wrote to his home newspaper. He could hardly contain himself. Everything is buzz and clatter and confusion, an unending, everlasting labyrinth of grandeur. I am dazzled, captivated and bewildered, and return to my room, tired in mind, eyes, ears and body, so much to think about, so much to entice you on from place to place, until your knees clatter and you fall into a chair completely exhausted. However it is very pleasant to lay there and think of it all. (Rudell 1984)

He also wrote a longer account of his whole journey (Rudell 1984) starting with a reminiscence about how much Colorado had changed in the past thirty years. Arriving in Chicago at 10 a.m., he encountered what others had faced and would face. It proved an experience he did not relish nor did he have a favorable opinion of the host city. I alight from the train and ten thousand hackmen yell and grab at me while I hold on to my baggage and swear, and now I am in a cab in ugly humor, in a most filthy city, rolling down a narrow street over cobble stone pavement. The Chicago River looks like an open sewer. As the cab proceeds, I observe that the houses are built principally of pale red and fire-clay colored bricks and


Chapter 6

of stone, they all look like they had been built for centuries even those that are barely finished. . . . Everything is dirty and grimy and greasy and smoky and filthy, the atmosphere is permeated with putrescent odors, it comes down in the heavy-laden atmosphere of smoke and oozes up in steam from gas-pipes and sewers through the rotten, worm eaten, Nickelson pavements. I get a room on State street, and go to bed and go to sleep.

Waking up in better humor, Benson goes to the fair at 8 p.m. and has an experience many other newcomers must have had. [I] get on the elevated railroad at 22nd street between State Street and Wabash Avenue, and start south for the fair, this is my first trip on the Elevated, and away I go like Santa Claus over the house-tops, and past 3rd story windows with the blinds up, the lights burning and people asleep; and here is a rail-road yard on top of homes and shops and stores.

While getting to the fair, and at it, the attorney was astonished at the humanity he witnessed. He, apparently, was sometimes not at all pleased with it.


An incessant throng, a conglomerated, discordant mass of humanity, and amidst it all one is astonished at the confusion of tongues; here is the proud and bespangled Mexican, with his broad brimmed sombrero, touching the squatty and half clad Egyptian; and here is the Turk, and the Greek, and the Spaniard, the Frenchman, the German, and Jew, the Ethiopean and Jap, the Chinese, and Lap, the Huns and the Poles, the Scandinavians, the Swiss and Bavarians, the Feejee and the Hotentot, and God knows what not, all dressed in a different garb and speaking a different tongue.

Finally, for all his trials and travails, Benson also fell under the fair’s spell, from the first moment he saw it from the elevated. Look off to the left there and against the darkness of the night, see that circle of light in the heavens, it is the great Ferris Wheel, a blaze of electric flame, two hundred and fifty feet in diameter, carrying thirty-six cars, holding sixty persons each, to a height of two hundred and sixty four feet. And now I reach the grounds at 65th street. Everything is buzz and clatter and confusion, an unending, everlasting labyrinth of grandeur and of glory, you visit every country on the face of the globe, you see their people and hear them talk, you walk through the streets of their cities, you observe their customs, there are the streets of Cairo, over there are the Alps of Switzerland, here is the Colesium of Rome, a few steps further on and you enter the jungles of India. It is the whole world on a thousand acres.

Charles Cornelius wrote his friends in Saguache in June, tantalizing them to journey to the fair. “We have just returned from a ten days visit to the big fair—it is a big one and no mistake. Words cannot describe it; it must be seen

Coloradans Go to the Fair

to be realized, and I wish every citizen of this land could see it; it is wonderful” (Saguache Chronicle). Teacher and former principal of Aspen High School, Isabel Holloway, sent a letter back home. She enjoyed her experiences in July but seemed a little disappointed with her state’s effort. The World’s Fair will always be one of my most delightful memories. It was much ahead of my conception of it. But Colorado had not “done herself proud,” to quote the words of an Immortal Aspenite. The Colorado state building is very, very inferior, and the Silver Queen—well, it is well that it was put away up stairs in the most out of the way place on the ground. It don’t begin to look as well as it did in Aspen. It looks cheap and clumsy ungraceful in every way. (Rocky Mountain Sun 1893)

An unidentified Coloradan agreed with Holloway’s assessment. Writing in a late June letter to the Silverton Standard, the author presented another view. Every resident of this state is anxious to see the Colorado building. When he gets there he sees—nothing—there is no exhibit of any kind. The building is simply fitted up as a club house. It seems to me that there might, at least, have been a pyramid of ore in the vestibule to give some indication of the resources of the state that the building represents. It is true that some of the other state buildings are also arranged only for club houses, but many of them contain very complete and interesting exhibits.

Meanwhile, in Boulder, Professor Mary Rippon planned her mid-June trip to Chicago and the fair. Her terse comments in her diary, unfortunately, provide little of her insights or experiences. They are almost routine in character, and one might say disappointing. June 19 Left early for Denver. Took U.P. for Chicago June 21 Arrived in Chicago. June 22 Went to the Fair. Daniel Webster’s carriage. Woman’s Building and general architecture. June 23–June 25 rested “Church in evening” [not until June 28 did Rippon return to the fair] June 28 Fair. Daniel Webster’s plow. Indians. Japan. Agriculture— War ship [her next appearance at the fair was four days later] July 3 To the Fair The Plaisance and Art Gallery July 4 Did not go out [at this point in her diary Rippon made this unexplained observation.


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“Publick occurrences truly reported with allowance.”] July 5 To the Fair Pal. of Mechanic Art. Art Gallery July 6 Saw State Buildings & Art Gallery July 7 Left for Detroit

Though Rippon’s account is definitely sketchy, she does provide a brief summary of some of her expenses. Unfortunately, she does not always explain her entries. June 21 tickets & Sleeper to Ch. $27 July 3 At the Fair $2 July 5 Ent. $1 Coffee .20 Car & local fares .75 July 6 Ent. 1.00 lunch .20 Car fares .60


Aspen resident surveyor and miner Charles Armstrong took time out from a trip back East to visit Chicago and, in complete contrast to Rippon, left a detailed account in his journals about the experience. Armstrong would wander for days among the exhibits and other features of the fair, the likes of which he had never seen before. He came down from Milwaukee by boat, arriving in Chicago at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27. The following is his account, as he toured the fair’s multitude of attractions. Armstrong’s original spelling and writing are left uncorrected, including his interesting attempts at punctuation (Buys 2002, 213–17). Wednesday June 28th 93 At the Fair most of the day. Walked till I was tired. . got back to town early. Thursday June 29th 93 Hunted up a room this morning near the fair grounds at the Albion Hotel 5463 & 5465 Kiniback Avenue 50 ct at day. after dinner went to the fair and staid till 10 at night. . went through the California Building the Womans building and the Transportation Building. Great display of fireworks on the lake front this evening Friday June 30th 1893 Took the street cars for down town this afternoon. Got my value at the Atlantic Hotel. . I got a shave and come up home . . went to the fair in the afternoon Saturday July 1st 93 Went to the fair this morning Viewed the Midway Plaisance and invest in a souvenir spoon for Roxie [sister] and in beer and lunch for myself

Coloradans Go to the Fair

In the afternoon went through the fisheries building and the Sweadish building Paid for room $3.50 for a week. Splendid fire works on the lake front this evening. I got back to the hotel at 10 o’clock took a bath and went to bed Sunday July 2nd 93 Went to the fair Was in the art gallery most of the day. Saw the Old De Wit Clinton Locomotive and coaches used on the Hudson & Schnactada R.R. in 1831. . Fir mast at the door of the Washington Building 215 ft high and only 3 ½ ft diameter Monday July 3rd Walked through the Illinois Building, the Government Bldg and Krups exibit and the Leather exibit. Saw leather belt 12 ft wide another 2 miles long. Saw Red Wood plank in Forestry building 16 ft & 5 in wide & 5 inches thick. Eat lunch in the Big Tree Restaurant. They use the Big Tree for a counter it is 4 ft square & 111 ft long & weighs 92000 lbs & is 442 years old. Went to Buffalo Bills show this evening Tuesday July 4th 1893 An immense crowd on the fair grounds to day. The celebration did not amount to much. . Big fireworks in the evening. I got home at 12.45. Saw Charley Fields from Aspen and was around with him in the evening. Saw the Persian Dancing girls on the Midway Plaisance &c Wednesday July 5th 93 Got up at 10 this morning. Went to the fair after dinner and walked around to different exhibits. Saw a big load of logs from Ontonago River Michigan white pine 18 ft long on the bobsleds containing 36055 ft of lumber. . . . Thursday July 6th 93 Was at the fair to day. Saw a silver fialagree model of the Horticultural Hall made in Monteray Mexico using 1101bs of silver. 11 ft 2 in long 3ft 2 ½ inches wide. represents the labor of 12 men 13 months at 18 hours a day. . . . Friday July 7th 93 The Caravels [replicas of Columbus’ three ships] came in this afternoon and they received quite an ovation. The parade was good. U.S. Soldiers, English soldiers & sailors. . Indians South Sea Islanders, Excamo Dahomans. Bedouins etc etc. I was up on the promenade on Manufacturers Building 140 ft high and ½ miles around. fine view cost 25c. . Saw a Tarpon from Florida. . 7ft 2in long weight 2051bs. Saw a Tiffany diamond worth $100,000. Also Gormans silver statue of Columbus value $50,000. was in the Libby glass works this evening 10c. . Saturday July 8th 93 Went to fair this afternoon. . . . saw the fire works this evening. They were first class. . stopped afterwards to hear the Cincinnati Band play


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Sunday July 9th Wrote a letter home to day Monday July 10th At the fair saw a chunk of pure native copper weight 8500lbs another weight 6200lbs from Central Mine Mich. . saw the Kimberly South African diamond exib. diamond washing and rough diamonds also cutting the stones. . Was in the Iowa state building. . it is fine. . was in the English building. . was on the Caravel Santa Maria. . . . Great fire in cold storage bldg. 21 lives lost. . Tuesday July 11th Was down town. . . . Was in Libby Prison this afternoon [popular Chicago Civil War museum]. 50c admission. lots of relics of the War. The bed that Lincoln died on the sheet soaked with his blood. Trees full of bullets & shells. Two mini balls that met in mid air and were flattened out and welded together. etc etc Well worth the money Wednesday July 12th . . . Bought 2 linen hand kerchiefs 40c 52 ton gun in Govt building. . 1000lbs shot 450lbs powder for a load. . Max in gun fires 750 shots a minute.


Thursday July 13th Did not go to the fair. Set around the house till about 4 p.m. and paid my bill and went down town. Went to see the great play of America at the Auditorium paid 1.00 Great Show. . Very hot this evening. Friday July 14th Bought a ticket for Denver $10.00 over the Chicago & Alton & U.P.R.R. Stopped at Atlanta Hotel last night. Left Chicago 2 p.m. Very hot weather.

By making it to the fair, Charles Armstrong had indeed seen the “elephant,” as they expressed it in those days, and enjoyed himself immensely. Obviously, he spent more days at the fair than the average tourist savoring the sights and sounds. He had seen the main buildings and exhibits, not to mention taking pleasure in touring the Midway on several occasions. He, like others, must have been awed at the technological progress the fair exhibited, as well as the “human progress” that his generation had achieved. A Durangoan wrote a long letter to her hometown newspaper, the Herald (July 13, 1893), in which she presented some interesting opinions and the personal excitement of being there. Criticism is the most fashionable manner of expressing opinions at the World’s Fair. It is very green of some of us to have admired as much as we have done and countryfied [sic] almost beyond a parallel to have so far forgotten ourselves and to have talked that admiration out loud. To be up with the times you mustn’t do it. You may tolerate things in general, but you mustn’t be too much pleased with anything in particular.

Coloradans Go to the Fair

One blasé lady, who had lived about two years to one in her life, said to the writer one day at Jackson park, that really the fair was disappointing. One saw so very little in it that one had not seen before. I thought what an affliction it must be to be so surfeited with good things. Another said that the gallery of Fine Arts was quite common place here where the works of art of the whole world are gathered together; hardly as good as that of the Centennial, she said.

Laura Marsh, on the other hand, liked the fair, particularly the German Building, “by far the most elegant on the grounds The tapestried walls, carved wood work and rich furniture are fit for royalty certainly and its book display is superb.” She continued on. You can’t please everybody. And Colorado is not any freer from growlers than Germany, Kansas, Oklahoma, or any other exhibiter with constituents. Her people are forever criticizing the state building, and think that it ought to be as full of fruit, stuffed animals and statuesque pyramids of olive oil as the California building adjoining it; when it was understood from the beginning that it was only built for a Colorado club house and was never meant for an exhibit hall. The state has all its fruit, flowers, minerals, et caetera [sic] in the different buildings where they belong, hasn’t even a stuffed mountain lion to glower at visitors in its building, nor enough oil, its seems, to throw on the troubled waters, for the growling and grizzling goes right on.

She and a friend decided on trying an “uncommon lark” of riding in a sedan chair. First, we had to jaw the oriental chaps down a little, as they evinced a decided inclination at the start to take what the altar of roses indulgence had left in our purses. However, the business of the jiggly conveyances was not so brisk but that the carriers easily yielded to treatment, and we took our seat. [With one Turk in front, the other in the back, off they went.] The Turks took a kind of lame and halt jog trot as we progressed, and from necessity such a jigglety, jogglety ride their passengers never before experienced. It was a compromise between a lumber wagon trip with a board seat over a corduroy road and a mule back ride and when the journey was at last over we alighted, saying with considerable relief: “Well, that much is done,” for you know that people who go to the World’s Fair “do” the show right though from a religious duty. But since I have been feeling a sort of compassion for Stanley and those other explorers who are obliged to ride about in this manner.

Speaking of “religious duty,” Laura and her sister visited the fair one Sunday morning. two people who usually go to church had a sort of heathenish feeling at attending the fair instead, not even having gone to a convenient service first. . . . I guess maybe it was just the feeling of American backsliders since we had the inner consciousness. However, we went to the fair and threatened to “do”


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the Manufacturers’ building, which task it is needless to say we fell far short of accomplishing. Wandering along, we saw many things—the exhibit of rich Bohemian glass and Venetian ware; the Italian display of white marble statuary; stood before the grand Russian display of furs in wide eyed wonder, and next, admiring as we studied a splendid monument in wood to Count Tolstoi. (Aspen Times, June 1893)

Not completely finished, they visited the beautiful French section and paused for a moment before the house decorator’s department. “We selected Goblin tapestry for the walls of our ‘castles in Spain’ and chattered laughingly over the probable cost and of our (very probable) financial wrecks after the Fair was done.” Laura Marsh had caught the spirit of the fair. Her reactions were probably those of many of her fellow Coloradans, and she certainly was not about to let some other visitors’ negativism ruin her enjoyment and enthusiasm. Concluding, she admitted a feeling that must have also overwhelmed others, “one hardly knows where one may wander in discussing so large a subject as the Fair, and I will close here while I am near enough shore to effect a landing.” Judge and Mrs. Holley returned home to Wheat Ridge in August, after a twomonth visit to Illinois, during which time they spent a fortnight at the fair. During their two-week stay, Mrs. Holley was enthralled by what she saw and experienced.


It is hardly possible to give a faint idea. In every department there is much to admire, much to prove the world is progressing by the exhibition of the products of early years as compared with the latest inventions in science, arts and manufactures. Colorado’s exhibition is a worthy one, of which Colorado people have reason to be proud. The state building is not a large one but sufficiently large to exhibit agricultural products, horticultural products, arts, and so forth. The state mineral exhibition is exceedingly creditable and attracts great crowds. (Rocky Mountain News, July 1893)

One thing that caught her attention was “the taking care of young children in the nursery building by trained nurses.” This, Mrs. Holley concluded, “is especially agreeable to mothers who can rest assured their little ones are carefully tended.” She concluded, “No Coloradan should fail to visit the Columbian exposition, it is an institution to be proud of as a whole, and taken all in all Colorado is very credibly and honorably represented.” The Castle Rock Journal (August 9) published a letter just for children about Mesa Verde and the exhibit at the fair. After discussing the discovery the article continued: Well, at the Fair is as exact representation of some of the ruins in the canons of the south-western part of Colorado as could be made. A great amount of money,

Coloradans Go to the Fair

time and care has been expended upon this reproduction, and it is of these and the people I propose telling you about in this letter. . . . Let us draw near to that group and hear what that man is saying. He says that all the ruins here are built one-tenth of their actual size. Each brick was made on the same scale.

As the fair neared closing in late October, the Durango Herald (October 22) reported that several locals had just returned from attending it. They reported that Colorado’s exhibit “is a good one.” The minerals displayed, one felt, “compares with the best.” Like all others who visited the World’s Fair, Coloradans offered a variety of opinions about their experiences. Overall, though, they were impressed and seemed to have enjoyed themselves. For most of them it probably became the experience of a lifetime, and certainly it was a memory to help carry them through the tormenting times that had settled over their state and its major industry, mining. Ahead lurked dark and foreboding decades for mining and years of trials and tribulations for Coloradans. The fair’s warm days and sunshine and fun times on the Midway would seem like another age and, indeed, would be by the time the new century dawned. If, however, they had looked thoughtfully at what the buildings’ exhibits displayed, those Coloradans would have had more than an inkling of what lay ahead for their lives and their state.


Epilogue The Glory and the Reality

The World’s Fair will close October 31. Never in the world’s history has there been anything approaching it in magnificence, extensiveness of its grounds and buildings, or in the character of the varied exhibits and displays from almost every nation in the world. —Boulder Camera, October 28, 1893 [The Chicago World’s Fair] is the greatest thing that ever came into my life. It gives verity and value to everything. There never was and may never be again anything so beautiful. —William Dean Howells, Chicago Tribune, October 30, 1893 The Columbian Exposition was the most stupendous, interesting and significant show ever spread out for the public. —George Ade The World’s Fair is a great achievement of modern civilization. It is the mart of the world. —Mulji Devji Verdant

the boulder camera, october 31, 1893, described the closing moments of the World’s Columbian Exposition. The day before, October 30, at sunset, the colors “of all nations lowered together as they unfurled together before.” That unfurling had been back at noon on May 1. With optimism, the article concluded, “six months have passed and the glory of the exposition has been woven into the history of the world’s progress.”


The Glory and the Reality

For the estimated cost of twenty-six million dollars, the breathtakingly beautiful “White City” won the highest praise. Not just from the multitudes who came to savor the sights and sounds and to take them all in, but also from such “professional skeptics and sophisticates” as Henry Adams and Charles Eliot Norton. Very few Coloradans who ventured to Chicago would have disagreed; it was for them one of the highlights of their lives. Only hours before the assassin shot him, Chicago mayor Carter Harrison spoke to a gathering of mayors and tried to summarize what the fair had meant. Completely understandable, it was replete with local pride. A few excerpts from the Rocky Mountain News follow: All who have visited the World’s Fair are glad of the opportunity they have had to see such a scene of grandeur, and I myself deeply pity any American who has lost the opportunity of coming here. Genius is but audacity, and the audacity of the “wild and wooly West” and of Chicago has chosen a star and has looked upward to it and knows nothing that it will not attempt, and thus far has found nothing that it cannot accomplish. Its beauty has gone forth among the people, the men, the women, aye, the child has looked upon it and they have all been well repaid for this wonderful education. This World’s Fair has been the greatest educator of the nineteenth century, the greatest this century has seen. It has been the greatest educator the world has ever known. The past has nothing for its model; the future will be utterly incapable of competing with it, aye, for hundreds of years to come. Genius is but audacity. No royal king ordered it, but the American people, with the greatest of pluck, with the pluck born under the freedom of those Stars and Stripes, made this thing possible—possible to a free people. The world will be wiser for it.

The assassination of Chicago’s mayor put a gloom over the last days of the World’s Fair and canceled many of the festivities planned for October 30, as mentioned. That, and the severe depression which had settled over the land from coast to coast, took away much of the “magical” qualities that had made the fair so enjoyable and fun. Sadly, those were not the notes with which the directors had planned to conclude their festival of progress. Destruction of the fair began almost immediately, helped along by some “mysterious” fires. Dismantling of all the buildings, with one exception, and selling everything, from facilities to staff uniforms to scrap metal, started right away and continued apace. Within the next year, only the Palace of Fine Arts remained. It became the Field Columbian Museum, thanks to a million-dollar donation by Chicago’s merchant prince, Marshall Field. This museum was founded to preserve some of the exhibits, especially natural history, that had been displayed at the fair. The Colorado fair commission generously donated a large portion of the Colorado Mineral exhibit, once in the Mines



and Mining Building, to the Field Museum in Chicago. Most of the donated specimens are still located there in the Economic Geology collection. However, the famous Breckenridge Gold Collection made its way back to Colorado, where Colorado mining man John Campion almost certainly purchased most of it for his gold collection. In 1908, he eventually donated his collection to the new Denver Natural History Museum. A number of the Breckenridge gold specimens, now displayed at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, were in all probability exhibited at the Chicago Fair. After the Chicago Fair, William Keast’s Colorado Gold Mine exhibit made its way to the 1894 Midwinter Fair in San Francisco where it received “the highest award, a gold medal, for its merits.” From San Francisco, the exhibit was shown at various locations in the United States, England, Scotland, Wales, Belgium, at the 1900 Paris Exhibition, and at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. Amazingly, an issue about the number of awards presented persisted for several years after the fair ended. An article in the New York Times (July 28, 1895), headlined “Smaller Per Cent than at Any Previous World’s Fair,” attempted to clarify the issue.


One of the misapprehensions cherished by those who opposed the noncompetitive system of awards, . . . was that, with freedom of action on the part of judges possessing authority to grant as many awards as they should think deserved, there would be such an excess of awards as would cheapen their value. The result was exactly the reverse . . . that with about 250,000 exhibits and 65,422 exhibitors, and awards numbering but 23,586, the percent of awards at Chicago was less than at any former international exhibition.

Colorado received 186 awards (see appendix). Coloradans won awards for such diverse agricultural exhibits as cotton, corn, and grasses and the state won for “forty-six varieties of soil.” Coors received an award for lager beer, the Kuner Pickle Company for pickles, and the Denver Public Library for “library exhibits.” Nineteen awards were brought home for miningrelated exhibits including one by Horace Tabor’s Gold and Silver Extraction Mine and Mining Company. Colorado’s schools surpassed that total with twenty-three awards. Agriculture, however, brought home the most, topping seventy. Meanwhile, back in Colorado, gloom and despair became the watchwords of the day. Despite the fair’s wonders, the 1893 crash and an onrushing depression overshadowed its last three months for most Coloradans. They had never experienced anything like this economic collapse, and arguably they have not since. Words alone cannot describe the shock and tragedy of what happened. Everywhere they looked their economy, from farm to mine to hamlet to city, spiraled downward. The price of silver dropped from 83 cents to 62 cents an ounce during four days in June. Silver mining, Colorado’s key economic pillar, collapsed. Mines

The Glory and the Reality

closed (435 by count, as of September 1, 1893), smelters shut down, and people departed the mines, camps, and towns and tramped to nowhere in particular. Many went to Denver, but no jobs, or relief, awaited them there. July saw twelve Denver banks fail in the short period of a few days. In this time before federal insurance, that disastrous and staggering development left depositors in a desperate situation. Real estate values tumbled throughout the state, railroads went into receivership, businesses closed (nearly four hundred were reported statewide), and at least forty-five thousand people were out of work, all before fall turned the aspen to gold. It had been a summer from hell, and it had only started. Agriculture had been depressed for nearly a decade, with low prices and overproduction. Drought on the eastern plains made it only worse. Combining that disaster with mining’s collapse made the catastrophe’s magnitude weigh heavily in every crossroad and city in the state. The two were interrelated, really, as a resident of Washington County observed, “The death of silver is the death of farming in this state.” Another Coloradan from Weld County was even gloomier: “Our farmers are living from hand to mouth. Fair crops, but no prices; no money. Unless relief comes speedily, suffering will be great.” Relief would not be speedy. Coloradans might never before have seen anything like these economic times, but they did not suffer alone. Depressingly hard times fell nationally and worldwide. Looking for a cause, President Grover Cleveland and eastern Republicans conveniently blamed the federally subsidized silver purchase program and called for repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act at a special session of Congress. That act had so drained the federal treasury, or so easterners claimed, that it caused near panic in Wall Street and other economic circles by the spring of ’93, even before the crash hit. In spite of the valiant efforts of Colorado’s Henry Teller and other western silver senators, Congress repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, and the price of silver sank further. Nor did the repeal stop the country’s devastating downward economic spiral. To the horror of Coloradans and other western silverites, the United States would join most of the rest of the world and align itself on the gold standard. What this meant to Colorado became abundantly clear. Colorado’s situation only grew worse. The optimistic expectation that the Idaho Springs News expressed back on June 30 faded: “The calamity has been predicted and is now accepted as a hopeful sign that the country will be forced to see the necessity of restoring silver to its rightful place, and this result will be reached in a short space of time.” Furious Coloradans blamed bankers, easterners, Republicans, foreigners, and anyone else who did not stand with them. The Mancos Times (September 29, 1893) summarized the state of affairs. It had been said that the “gold bugs” would




not give Colorado “justice.” Therefore, “let us at least have revenge upon them by a boycott.” Where Chicago had so recently been a great favorite, now the editor recommended, “purchase no goods from Chicago houses.” A Rocky Mountain News editorial (September 22) cut right to the heart of the matter: “For a Western city, Chicago has made herself conspicuous by her opposition to free silver coinage.” After pointing out that Chicago depended on the West for “her commercial prestige” and on the “growth and prosperity of the Rocky Mountain states and territories,” the editorial concluded, “The course of her newspapers and her congressmen has been despicable in the extreme, and has aroused the resentful feeling of far Western men.” Coloradans tried to keep a “stiff upper lip,” such as when Durangoans sponsored a “hard times ball.” Such determination could carry them only so far before the depression overwhelmed any attempts at gaiety. The World’s Fair faded from view, if not from memory, as the depression gloomily, stubbornly hung on for nearly the rest of the decade throughout the state. With that development, Coloradans last hope for silver’s resurrection rested on the victory of that great silver spokesman, William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic nominee in the 1896 presidential race. His famous “Cross of Gold” speech (“You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold”) spoke to their minds and hearts. Such a victory of Bryan and silver, they prayed and believed, would save the day. Despite over 80 percent of Coloradans voting for their hero, their expectations were dashed. Notwithstanding such overwhelming state support, the election tide turned when the eastern and Midwest votes were tallied. That defeat spelled the last hope of silverites to resurrect their cherished metal with government aid. Meanwhile, the World’s Columbian Exposition largely drifted into a pleasant memory of better times. Perchance Coloradans remembered more than actually happened, or else they dreamed dreams of a better yesterday. Perhaps that mattered little in the overall scheme of things. The fair had slipped into history. It did not fade into a pleasant memory for everyone. One man sued the exposition for fifty thousand dollars because he was “kicked by a horse.” It would not be until late 1897 that the court ruled he had no case. The fair’s significance proved multifaceted. First and foremost, for many Coloradans and Americans, in general, was the fact that it had been “enchanting.” A visit to the World’s Columbian Exposition took visitors away from the cares and concerns of everyday life into an amazing world of the modern today and the astounding tomorrow. It had been a showplace of the present and an electrifying vision of the future. Such wonderments begged the question of what would be thought of next, what might change one’s life for the better.

The Glory and the Reality

It showed that America could mass-produce goods—and luxury goods—that would compete in variety and quality with the rest of the world. The impact of electricity, and the products that multiplied with it, promised not only a quieter and cleaner environment but relief for the housewife—and the public, in general—in ways previously unimagined. The fair, for example, had proved that incandescent bulbs, powered by alternating current, were a worthy product for home, business, streets, and school. The average housewife might not have realized it, but a new “vogue” appeared out of the fair, “the Gibson girl.” Slender, alluring, with a tight-fitted waistline, Charles Dana Gibson drew her, and women tried to emulate her. That would prove a hard task for the typical wife or working girl. It might be hard to match the slim, trim, enthralling Gibson girl dressed in the height of fashion, but women had done well with their building and exhibits. Although it would take a while, a new day was dawning for them. Colorado men showed the way that fall when they voted for woman’s suffrage. Talented and determined Carrie Catt had spearheaded the movement, as she would nationally in the decades to come until finally the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1919. The popularity of the fair’s buildings spread “neoclassic eclecticism” throughout the American architectural world. This attribute would give the country some of its handsomest civic buildings in the years that followed. “The fair,” architect and city planner (also long involved with the fair) Daniel Burnham declared, “awoke the American sense of beauty.” Americans liked what they had seen at the fair. It heralded the beginning of what would be described as a “consumer culture,” with industrialization, science, and urbanization leading the way. The exposition motivated urban planning. A classic example lay with Denver’s long-time mayor and political boss, Robert Speer, who modeled his “City Beautiful Movement” after some of the ideas that the fair had presented. Speer, who had toured the exposition, marveled at the way a swamp and wasteland had been transformed into an urban “paradise.” He then caught the dream of parks, trees, and other amenities to improve Denver’s urban landscape and its urban life in general. The fair possibly represented, in many ways, a high point of optimism about changing the pattern of urbanization and urban culture. It presented “magical and illusionistic qualities” about the future. Denver might have changed due to Speer’s ideas gathered from the fair, but Chicago, New York, and other communities found the urban dream hard to attain. Nonetheless, the fair proved a landmark in Chicago history. The coming of the promised “technological age” did not seem so threatening, once one had seen that future at the fair. To many people, it meant a “clean,




orderly, safe, and spacious” urban tomorrow in the new American age. It gave Americans a sense of recognition, of pride in the accomplishments of the past generation, and reaffirmed the country’s unity and its triumphant progress. The fair further provided a forum for an amazing host of ideas. Adding together the various conferences and individual speeches, a grand total of 5,978 addresses were given during the fair’s six months. The Chicago World’s Fair definitely sparked an interest in fairs. San Francisco hosted the Midwinter Fair in 1894. Buffalo sponsored the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, where, tragically, an assassin mortally wounded President William McKinley. In 1904, you could “meet me in St. Louis, Louis,” and San Francisco held another fair in 1915. The last one in the United States, the Louisiana World Exposition, occurred over a quarter of a century ago in 1984. They all had stirred gratification in America’s accomplishments and made many Americans proud of themselves, their quality of life, and their country. From the first one in New York in 1853 (Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations) to the last, they displayed how far America had progressed and broadly defined where the country planned on journeying in the future. Without doubt, they exhibited patriotism, pride, and progress. Times change and so do perceptions and anticipations. For the generation of Americans since 1984, fairs of this magnitude have not caught their fancy nor in the fast-changing times brought forth cities willing to undergo the expense of serving as host. For middle-class Americans, Chicago’s fair held out amazing hope, optimism, and pride. The fair also satisfied their desire for status and recognition, as a people and as a nation. It proved, in many ways, to be the opening act of America’s “coming of age” on the world scene. For the really optimistic, the fair, with all its “astonishing exhibits of American advances,” certainly announced “that the approaching century would be indisputably ours.” But, for others, it did not spark those feelings of pride. Anglo-Saxon, middleclass America found it a convenient and pleasing dream, but many in the American “melting pot” found themselves outside looking in. Blacks had only token involvement in the fair and Native Americans, beyond Buffalo Bill’s show, hardly warranted a passing mention. The “new immigrant” class was not looked upon with much favor, either. Indeed, the fair did much to reinforce opinions about the so-called “exotic” people at home and abroad. There was no celebration of diversity at the World’s Columbian Exposition. In fact, it “catalogued” the world’s people in a way that simultaneously created false pride and stereotyped images: “white folks” reigned at the top, people of color languished at the bottom. The fair’s vision also proved beyond the reach of the poor in the city slums and often those on the farm, as well as the “new immigrants.” Many of these folks were starting to come from eastern Europe to settle in the cities and work in the

The Glory and the Reality

factories and “sweat shops.” Nor could the hard-pressed Colorado farmer, trapped on the Great Plains, the out-of-work mountain miner, or the struggling, rural, small-town shopkeeper hope to grasp the White City’s future. They faced a hard enough time just putting food on the table or paying their mortgage. Coloradans had benefited from the fair, nonetheless. With pride, they had promoted and advertised their state and its wonders, from the plains to the mountains to the western plateaus. Despite the worsening economic situation, some Coloradans had gone to see the host of marvels spread about in the fairgrounds’ buildings and, perchance, sample the playful and “sinful” allurements of the Midway. Many, many more had read or heard about the fair and what it promised for the future as their nation prepared to march into the twentieth century. Americans, they believed, had assumed a new role on the world stage. If it had not been for the hard times toward mid-year and later, Coloradans might have enjoyed Chicago’s World’s Fair even more. They tended to be an optimistic fellowship, and, even in the darkest of days of the 1890s, they remembered and envisioned a better tomorrow. They did take with them, into that future, a memory of a fair that pointed to those yet-to-come days. Actually, in the years ahead, a better Colorado would emerge out of the ideas, inventions, products, and the host of new material things showcased by the World’s Columbian Exposition. As educator, writer and editor, and president of Harvard University Charles William Eliot explained, the fair symbolized all the country was and could be— “its beauty, its vulgarity, its order, its confusion, its unity, and its gaping divisions of industry” and “its present perils and its prospects.” To return once more to Edgar Lee Masters’ poem, “The White City,” A star shines singly and alone; Right o’er the dome’s symmetric sphere! The flags against the sky are blown— And all we cherished once is quickly gone.


Appendix Colorado Exhibits Receiving Awards

Department A. Agriculture group 1. (cereals, grasses and forage plants) Ackerman, F., Hygiene, Russian Spring Wheat. Adams, H. C., Las Animas, White Chaff Wheat. Amos, George, Las Animas, Australian Soft Wheat. Ayers, H. T., Durango, Early Poland Oats. Beasley, J. J., Longmont, Sea Island Wheat. Beerhart, Fred, Sterling, Early White Dent Corn. Benson, N. E., Montrose, Golden Chaff Wheat. Benson, N. J., Montrose, Wheat. Berry, F. M., Beulah, Corn and Rye. Berry, Henry, Beulah, Oats and Wheat. Bicklet, P., Longmont, White Russian Oats. Bishop, A. J., Monument, Sibley’s Barley. Boyd, W., Rocky Ford, Siberian Oats. Brooks, L. T., Elizabeth, Black Swiss Oats. Brose, C. M., Fort Collins, Grasses. Brown, Peter, Greeley, Oats and Wheat. Burkdoll, H. E., Monte Vista, Chrysolite Wheat. Calkins, C. C., Longmont, Chili Wheat. Campbell, L. M., Las Animas, Wheat. Coe, J. P., Stonewall, Seven-Headed Wheat. Crandall, C. S., Fort Collins, Collection of Grasses. Crowley, J. H., Rocky Ford, Oats and Wheat.




Doepke, F. A., Castle Rock, White Dutch Oats. Endsley, H. A., Montrose, Potato Oats. Eperson, J. H., Durango, Canadian Oats. Goss, J. W., Hygiene, Hybrid No. 10 Wheat. Hensley, C., Durango, White Spring Wheat. Hixon, N. R., Montrose, Texas Spring Oats. Hungarian Flour Mills, Denver, Flour “Pride of Denver” and “Hungarian Patent.” Hyer, A. H., Rocky Ford, Yellow Dent Corn. Jones, J. B., Montrose, Mediterranean Red Chaff Wheat. Johnson, J. P., Grand Junction, Australian Club Wheat. Kain, J. C., Rocky Ford, King Yellow Corn. Koen, T. B., Lamar, Mixed Oats. Leach, Frank, Grand Junction, Ruffed Oats. Leathem, D., Lamar, Red Chaff Wheat. Lewis, Robert, Monte Vista, Wheat. McClelland, J. S., Fort Collins, Oats. McClelland, J. S., Fort Collins, Barley. McClelland, J. S., Fort Collins, Wheat. McVay, F. M., Las Animas, Casica Wheat. Monnell & Son, E. B., Montrose, Club Wheat. Moore, D. O., Montrose, Horner Wheat. Myr, J. H., Montrose, White Swedish Oats. Nelson, H. C., Greeley, Potatoes. Paraschok, M., Hygiene, White Mexican Wheat. Parmetter, M. B., Fort Collins, Siberian Oats. Patterson, R. J., Sterling, Barley and Wheat. Perkins, G. M., Hygiene, Carter’s “B” Wheat. Ponds, C. A., Monte Vista, Wheat and Barley. Ramsey, Allen, Greeley, Wheat, Barley, and Oats. Rothschilds, J., Greeley, Potatoes. State of Colorado, Clover. Steele & Malone, Rocky Ford, Corn and Oats. Sylvester & Sons (2 sheets, 1 award), Monte Vista, Wheat and Oats. Tetsell, W. E., Sterling, White Sicily Oats. Thompson, J. W., Greeley, Spring Rye. Tracey, D. L., Hygiene, Wheat. Travis, D. C., San Isabel, Wheat, Oats, and Barley. Trew, C., Durango, Stool Oats. Vogtle & Hoffman, Lamar, Winnipeg Two-Rowed Barley. Warren, Mrs., Durango, Winter Four-Rowed Barley. Weston, S. A., Weston, Rust Proof Wheat.

group 9. (animal and vegetable fibres) Agricultural College, Fort Collins, Wool.

Colorado Exhibits Receiving Awards State Experimental Station, Fort Collins, Cotton. Tracey, D. L., NiWot, Flax Straw.

group 10. (pure and mineral waters, natural and artificial) Manitou Mineral Water Company, Manitou, Mineral Water.

group 12. (malts and liquors) Coors, A., Golden, Porter and Lager Beer. The C. A. Lammer Bottling Company, Denver, Bottled Beers.

group 14. (farms and farm buildings) State of Colorado, Forty-six Varieties of Soil.

group 18. (fats. oils, soaps, candles, etc.) P. A. Balcom Soap Company, Denver, Ceyserite Toilet Soap. State of Colorado, European Flax, Yellow Flax, and English Flax, for Seed.

Department N. Forestry group 19. (forestry, forest products) State Agricultural College, Fort Collins, Collection of Wood Sections, Forest Seeds, Plants, and Flowers.

group 20. State of Colorado, Collection of Grapes.

group 21. Coburn, W. S., Hoskiss, Collection of Apples. Locke, John, Canon City, Collection of Apples. State of Colorado, Denver, Pomaceous and Stone Fruits. Wade, S., Peona, Collection of Apples. Women’s Board of Colorado, Denver, Jellies, Jams, and Canned Goods.

Department B. Horticulture group 22. (floriculture) Walker, Mrs. S. B., Castle Rock, Herbarium. Women’s Board of Colorado, Denver, Herbarium.

group 23. (culinary vegetables) The Butters Manufacturing Company, Denver, Preserves, Jellies, and Pickles. The Kuner Pickle Company, Denver, Pickles, Catchup, etc.



Department E. Mines and Mining group 42. (minerals, ores, native metals, gems, and crystal-geological specimens) Cotton, Mrs. A. L., Silverton, Minerals and Ores, Class 291. Crystal River Mining Company, Gunnison, Ore Brittle, Silver, Calcite, and Rhodochrosite, Class 291. Forest Queen, Irwin, Ore, Ruby Silver, and Galena, Class 291. Pitkin County, Aspen, Native Silver Ores, Class 291. Raynolds, F. A., Canyon City, Petzite Gold and Silver Telluride, Class 291. San Miguel County, Telluride, Gold and Silver Ores from Mines of San Miguel County, Class 291. State of Colorado, Denver, Gold, Crystallized and Wire, Class 291. State of Colorado, Denver, Gold, Silver, and Lead Ores, Class 291. State of Colorado, Denver, Collective Display of the Mineral Resources and Ores of Colorado, Class 290. State School of Mines, Golden, Minerals, Class 290. Walker, Willis, Castle Rock, Silicified Wood and Agates, Polished, Class 291.

group 43. (mineral combustibles-coal, coke, petroleum, natural gas, etc.)


Canyon City Coal Company, Canyon City, Bituminous Coal, Class 292. Colorado Steel and Iron Company, Denver, Bituminous Coal, Class 292. San Juan Coal Company, Durango, Bituminous Coal, Class 292. Southwestern Coal Company, Durango, Bituminous Coal, Class 292. United Coal Company, Denver, Bituminous Coal, Class 292.

group 44. (building stones, marbles, ornamental stone, and quarry products) Ackroyd, E., Denver, Building Stone, Gray, Class 296. American Red Sandstone Company, Denver, Building Stone, Red Sandstone, Class 296. Castle Rock Stone Company, Denver, Building Stone, Lava, Class 296. Colorado Marble and Mining Company, Denver, Building Stone, White Marble, Class 296. Geddis & Seerie, Denver, Building Stone, Platte Canyon Red Granite, Class 296. Greenlee & Sons, Denver, Building Stone, Red Sandstone, Class 296. Kelly, D. J., Denver, Building Stone, Red Variegated Marble, Class 296. Ladies of La Plata County, Denver, Bust and Pedestal of Pink Sandstone, from La Plata County, Class 296. Martin & Gray, Denver, Building Stone, Cotopaxi Granite, Class 296. Sites & Buel, Denver, Building Stone, St. Vrain Red Sandstone, Class 296. State of Colorado, Denver, Building Stone, Rose Granite and Atkin’s Red Granite, Class 296.

group 45. (grinding, abrading, and polishing substances) Colorado Turkey Stone Company, Denver, Grindstone, Hones, and Whetstones, Class 297.

Colorado Exhibits Receiving Awards

group 46. (graphite and its products; clays and other fictile materials and their direct products; asbestos, etc.) Golden Pressed Fire Brick Company, Golden, Clays and Bricks, Class 304. Hoyt, C. P., Golden, Clay and Kaolin, Class 304.

group 47. (limestone, cements, and artificial stone) Sills, C. I., Gunnison, Lime, Raw and Burned, Class 309.

group 53. (metallurgy of zinc, nickel, and cobalt) American Zinc and Lead Company, Canyon City, Saving of Zinc from Argentiferous Ores, Crude and Refined Products of Zinc, Class 349.

group 55. (extraction of gold and silver by milling) Granger, A. P., Denver, Granger Roller Stamp Mill, Granger Dry Ore Separator, Class 360.

group 56. (extraction of gold and silver by lixiviation) The Gold and Silver Extraction Mine and Mining Company, Denver, The MacArthurForest Leading Process, Complete Plant, Class 364.

group 67. (history and literature of mining and metallurgy) Colorado Scientific Society, Denver Scientific Society, Class 411. Dailey State Mining Journal Company, Denver, The Daily State Mining Journal, Class 411. Fish, Rachel J., Denver, Mining Claims Surveys Made by Women, Class 412. Mining Industry Publishing Company, Denver, The Mining Industry and Tradesman, Class 411. State School of Mines, Colorado Coal Deposits; Lake’s Geology of Colorado Coal Deposits, Class 411.

Department K. Machinery group 69. (motors and apparatus for the generation and transmission of power—hydraulic and pneumatic apparatus) Davis-Creswell Manufacturing Company, Denver, Plumber’s and Steam Fitter’s Supplies.

group 71. (machine tools and machines for working metals) Wiswall & Davis, Longmont, Automatic Blacksmith Foot Hammer.

Department G. Transportation group 83. (vehicles and methods of transportation on common roads)

Gallup and Frazier, S. C., Pueblo, Cowboy Saddles, Cowgirl Saddles, Cowboy Overalls.



Department H. Manufactures group 89. (typewriters, paper, blank books, stationery) Denver Paper Mills, Denver, Material for Manufacture of Paper.

group 91. (ceramics and mosaics) Brown, Miss Jennie, Denver, Decorated China. Bushnell, Mrs. George A., Denver, Decorated China. Case, Mrs. M. B., Denver, Decorated China. Covey, Mrs., Denver, Decorated China. Failing, Ada C., Denver, Decorated China. Johnson, Mrs. Egbert, Denver, Decorated China. Miller, Miss Ida, Denver, Decorated China. Olmstead, Mrs. Clarence, Denver, Decorated China. Perkins, Mrs. E. S., Denver, Decorated China. Quimby, Miss Jessie D., Denver, Decorated China.

group 96. (carvings in various materials) Lipscomb, Miss Lucie, Denver, Carved Wood.


group 102. (yarns and woven goods of cotton, linen, and other vegetable fibre) Overland Cotton Mills, Denver, Sheetings.

group 103. (woven and felted goods of wool and mixtures of wool) Midland Woolen Mills Company, Denver, Blankets.

group 104. (clothing and costumes) Bourne, Mrs. Henry, Silver Cliff, Patented Stocking Knee to Prevent Wear. Wright & Co., R. C., Denver, Overcoat.

group 106. (laces, embroideries, trimmings, artificial flowers, fans, etc.) Besuzzi, Miss, Denver, Embroidered Screen. Cutter, Miss Edna M., Denver, Lace Handkerchief. Deitz, Mrs. Anna T., Denver, Man-made Lace. Skewes, Mrs. Rose Meeker, Greeley, Black Lace Bertha. Smith, Mrs. Marie Campbell, Boulder, Infant’s Dress. Smith, Mrs. N. K., Aspen, Infant’s Dress of Knitted Lace. Sonive, Miss, Aspen, Infant’s Dress.

Department L. Liberal Arts group 149 (primary, secondary, and superior education) Carter, Charles M., Denver, Desk Easel.

Colorado Exhibits Receiving Awards Denver Diocese, Denver, Class Work. Fulton, N. Z., Gunnison, Cube Box. Loretto Academy, Colorado Springs, Class Work and Needlework. McDonald, A. J., Denver, McDonald Globe. Mitchell, Julia M., Denver, Alphabet Busy Work. Parish Schools, Class Work. Parish Schools, Denver, Class Work. Public School, Boulder, Manuscript Work of Various Grades. Public School, Longmont, School Work. Public School, Colorado Springs, Model (Plaster) of Topography of Pike’s Peak and Vicinity, and School Work. Public Schools, Denver, Pupils’ Work. Public Schools, Leadville, Pupils’ Work. Public Schools, Pueblo, Manual Training, Woodwork (mounted) and Working Drawing. Sacred Heart College, Denver, Class Work. Sacred Heart School, Denver, Class Work. School for Deaf and Blind, Colorado Springs, Pupils’ Work. State Normal School, Greeley, Charts, Notebooks, Bound Volumes (Manuscript Drawings); Sloid (from Kindergarten to High School). State of Colorado, Denver, Educational Exhibit. State School of Mines, Golden, Drawings, Publications, and Photographs. The State Agricultural College, Fort Collins, Photographs and Specimens of Work in Wood and Metal and Working Drawings. Work, Cree T., Greeley, Solid Desk Top. Woy, Miss Leota, Boulder, Practical Working Designs for Wall Paper.

group 150. (literature, books, libraries, journalism) Coy, Jackson & Van Diest, Denver, Contour Map of Colorado. Denison, Charles, Denver, Climate Maps. Woman’s Department, State Board of Managers, Denver, Books and Literature.

group 151. (instruments of precision, experiment, research and photography. photographs) Photographic Publishing Company, Denver, Photographic Views of Landscapes. Rothberger, H., Denver, Photographs.

group 152. (civil engineering, public works, constructive architecture) Wendell, H. T. E., Denver, Colorado State Building. Wolfenden, Mrs. J. H., Highlands, Window Bead Fastener.

group 155. Public Library, Denver, Library Exhibits.

group 158. (music and musical instruments—the theatre) Groosmayor, Miss Dolce, Denver, Instrumental Music.



Department M. Ethnology groups 159 to 176. Agassiz Association, Chapter 753, Salida, Amateur Collection of Colorado Minerals. Green, C. N., Denver, Relics from the Cliff Dwellings of Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. State of Colorado, Navajo Indians and Hogan. State of Colorado, Entomological Collection: Butterflies and Moths. State of Colorado, Skulls of Cliff and Mesa Dwellers. State of Colorado, Cliffs and Mesa Ruins of Colorado.



Newspapers Akron Weekly Pioneer Press. 1892. Aspen Daily Leader. 1892. Aspen Tribune. 1898. Aspen Union Era. 1892. Aspen Weekly Times. 1891–1893. Boulder Daily Camera. 1892–1893. Castle Rock Journal. 1893. Chicago Times. 1882. Chicago Tribune. 1889, 1893. Colorado Transcript. 1892. Daily Southwest (Durango). 1893. Denver Republican. 1893. Durango Herald. 1893. Engineering and Mining Journal. 1892–1893. Fairplay Flume. 1893. Fort Collins Courier. 1892, 1894. Fulford Signal. 1893. Great Southwest (Durango). 1892–1893. Greeley Tribune. 1892, 1893. Idaho Springs News. 1891, 1893.

Lake City Times. 1892–1893. Leadville Daily and Evening Chronicle. 1889–1893. Leadville Weekly Chronicle. 1889. London Times. 1892. Loveland Leader. 1892. Mancos Times. 1893. Mining Industry and Tradesman. 1893. New Castle News. 1893. New York Times. 1891–1893. Rocky Mountain News. 1892–1893. Rocky Mountain Sun (Aspen). 1893. Saguache Crescent. 1893. San Luis Courier (Alamosa). 1889–1890. Silverton Standard. 1892–1893. Summit County Journal (Breckenridge). January–July, 1892. Vermilion Iron Journal. 1893. Weekly Republican (Denver). 1893.



Unpublished Materials Farnley, Albert, personal communication, 2010. Hoenig, Amelia Lucile, diary.

Published Materials


Appelbaum, Stanley. The Chicago World’s Fair. New York: Dover Publications, 1980. A Report on the Resources and Industrial Development of Colorado. Denver, CO: Collier, 1893. A Week at the Fair. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally & Company, 1893. Badger, Roger. The Great American Fair: The World’s Columbian Exposition & American Culture. Chicago, IL: Nelson Hall, 1979. Bancroft, Hubert H. The Book of the Fair. Chicago, IL: Bancroft Co., 1893. Benson, Maxine. “Colorado Celebrates the Centennial, 1876.” Colorado Magazine (Spring 1976): 129–52. Bertuca, David J. The World’s Columbian Exposition: A Centennial Bibliographic Guide. Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press, 1996. Biennial Report of the State School of Mines. Golden, Colorado, 1892. Board of World’s Fair Managers for Colorado. Denver, December 1892. Bolotin, Norman, and Christine Laing. The World’s Columbian Exposition: The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Washington: Preservation, 1992. Brown, Julie. Contesting Images: Photography and the World’s Columbian Exposition. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994. Burg, David F. Chicago’s White City of 1893. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1976. Burnham, D. H., “The World’s Columbian Exposition”: The Plan of the Builders. No publisher, no date. Buys, Christian J. The Lost Journals of Charles S. Armstrong. Montrose, CO: Western Reflections, 2002. Cameron, William E. The World’s Fair, Being a Pictorial History of the Columbian Exposition. Boston, MA: M. J. Monahan, 1893. Carter, Robert A. Buffalo Bill Cody: The Man Behind the Legend. Edison, NJ: Castle Books, 2005. Collier, Donald. “Chicago Comes of Age: The World’s Columbian Exposition and the Birth of Field Museum.” Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, vol. 40 (May 1969): 2–7. Dempsey, Stanley, and James E. Fell, Jr. Mining the Summit: Colorado’s Ten Mile District, 1860–1960. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986. Downey, Dennis B. A Season of Renewal: The Columbian Exposition and Victorian America. Westport, CT.: Praeger, 2002. The Dream City: A Portfolio of Photographic Views of the World’s Columbian Exposition. St. Louis, MO: N. D. Thompson Publishing Co., 1893. Dreiser, Theodore. Sister Carrie. New York: Bantam Books, 1958. Dybwad, G. L., and Joy V. Bliss. White City Recollections: A Young Man’s World Fair Adventure with His Father. Albuquerque, NM: Book Stops Here, 2003. Eckel, Edwin. History of the Colorado Scientific Society, 1882–1978. Denver: Colorado Scientific Society, 1978.

Bibliography Flynn, John, compiler. Official Guide to the World’s Columbian Exposition. Chicago: Columbian Guide Company, 1893. Garland, Hamlin. A Son of the Middle Border. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1928. Gilbert, James. Perfect Cities: Chicago’s Utopias of 1893. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991. Handy, Moses P., ed. The Official Directory of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Chicago, IL: W. B. Conkey Company, 1893. Harris, Neil, Wim de Witt, James Gilbert, and Robert W. Rydell. Grand Illusions: Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893. Chicago, IL: Chicago Historical Society, 1993. “Hasty Glance Taken in August, 1893, at the Ores of the Noble and of the Useful Metals in the Mines and Mining Building.” American Geologist (Dec. 1893): 376–94. Ives, Halsey C. “The Department of Fine Arts.” The World’s Columbian Exposition. John L. Stoddard’s Portfolio of Photographs. Chicago, IL: Educational Publishing Company, c. 1893. Johnson, Rossiter, ed. A History of the World’s Columbian Exposition Held in Chicago in 1893 by Authority of the Board of Directors. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1897. Lampa, Marvin. Minnesota’s Iron Country. Duluth, MN: Lake Superior Port Cities Inc., 2004. Larson, Erik. The Devil and the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. New York: Vintage Books, 2004. Leyendecker, Liston E. “Colorado and the Paris Universal Exposition, 1867.” Colorado Magazine (Winter 1969): 1–15. Lipsky, William. Images of America: San Francisco’s Midwinter Exposition. Chicago, IL: Arcadia, 2002. List of Exhibitors at the World’s Columbian Exposition Held at Chicago, Illinois, From May to October, 1893, for Whom Diplomas Were Prepared by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Under Direction of the Executive Committee, World’s Columbian Exposition. Washington, DC: Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 1896. Madsen, Axel. The Marshall Fields: The Evolution of an American Business Dynasty. New York: John Wily & Sons, 2002. Masters, Edgar Lee. Across Spoon River: An Autobiography. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991. ———. Book of Verses. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1998. ———. The Tale of Chicago. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1933. Mayer, Harold M., and Richard C. Wade. Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1969. Miller, Donald L. City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. ———. “The White City.” American Heritage (July–August 1993): 71–87. “Mining at the Columbian Exposition: The Colorado State Exhibit.” Engineering and Mining Journal, vol. 55 (June 24, 1893): 581. “Mining at the Columbian Exposition: The State Exhibits.” Engineering and Mining Journal, vol. 55 (May 13, 1893): 437–39. “Mining at the Exposition: A General Description of the Mines and Mining Building and Its Contents.” Collier Engineer, vol. 13 (June 1893): 241–44.




Morse, Patricia. “Midway Plaisance Walking Tour.”, 2010. Noel, Thomas J. Buildings of Colorado. New York: Oxford, 1997. Patton, Phil. “Sell the Cookstove if Necessary, But Come to the Fair.” Smithsonian (June 1993): 38–51. Penrose, R. A. F. “Notes on the State Exhibits in the Mines and Mining Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago.” Journal of Geology (July–August 1893): 457–70. Pettem, Silvia. Separate Lives: The Story of Mary Rippon. Longmont, CO.: The Book Lode, 1999. Pierce, Bessie L. As Others See Chicago: Impressions of Visitors, 1673–1933. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1933. The Proceedings of the Colorado Scientific Society. Denver: Colorado Scientific Society, 1891–1893. Raymond, Rossiter W. “The Mining Industry at the World’s Fair.” Engineering Magazine, vol. 6 (January 1894): 489–98. Rosenberg, Chaim M. America at the Fair: Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Chicago, IL: Arcadia Publishing, 2008. Rudell, Robert W. All the World’s a Fair. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1984. Sharpe, May Churchill. Chicago May: Her Story. New York: Macauly Co., 1928. Shaw, Marian. World’s Fair Notes: A Woman Journalist Views Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition. Lakeville, MN.: Pogo Press, 1992. Shepp, James W. Shepp’s World’s Fair Photographed: Being a Collection of Original Copyrighted Photographs Authorized and Permitted by the Management of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Chicago, IL: Globe Bible Pub., 1893. Solzman, David M. The Chicago River: An Illustrated History and Guide to the River and Its Waterways. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Sousa, John Philip. Marching Along: Recollections of Men Women and Music, ed. Paul E. Brerly. Westerville, OH: Integrity Press, 1994. Truman, Benjamin C. History of the World’s Fair: Being a Complete and Authentic Description of the Columbian Exposition from Its Inception. Philadelphia, PA: J. W. Keeler & Co., 1893. Vandenbusche, Duane, and Rex Myers. Marble, Colorado: City of Stone. Denver, CO: Golden Bell, 1970. Vendl, Karen A., and Mark A. Vendl. “‘Don’t Fail to Visit the Colorado Gold Mine’: World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893.” Mining History Journal (2010): 1–11. Ward, William Shaw. “Colorado Mineral Exhibit at the World’s Columbian Exposition.” Colorado Magazine (August 1893): 430–39. Weimann, Jeanne M. The Fair Women. Chicago, IL: Academy Chicago, 1981. Wendt, Lloyd, and Herman Kogan. Give the Lady What She Wants! Chicago, IL: Rand McNally & Co., 1952. World’s Columbian Exposition, Department of Colorado. Denver, CO: Collier & Cleaveland, 1891. World’s Columbian Exposition Illustrated. Chicago, IL: James B. Campbell, 1892–1894. World’s Columbian Fair Chicago. Chicago, IL, 1893.


Armour, Philip, 4 Armstrong, Charles S., 42, 58–59, 80–82; see also photos following page 28 Ashley, Susan, 53 Aspen (Colorado), 35 Aspen Pharmacy: see photos following page 57 Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, 48 balloon ride, 67 Bancroft, Hubert Howe, 65 Bark, Bert, ix, x Bates, Katherine Lee, 38 Bellamy, Francis J., 14, 62 belly dance, 14, 64, 66; see also photos following page 28 Benson, Horace, 77–78 blacks, 61, 62, 92. See also Joplin, Scott Bloom, Sol, 14, 66 Blow, Albert A., 33 Boulder County, 38 Bracket, J. Raymond, 52 Breckenridge (Colorado), 49, 50, 88, 103; see also photos following page 57 Bryan, William Jennings, 90 Buffalo Bill. See Cody, William buildings, at the Fair, 4, 10, 11, 16, 19, 22, 24, 25, 31, 39, 43, 49, 52, 59, 82, 85, 87, 91; see also photos following page 57. See also specific building Burnham, Daniel, 9, 10, 11, 12, 91

Camp, Estelle, 73 Catt, Carrie, 53, 91 Chautauqua, 39 Chicago (Illinois), 1–4, 5, 9, 69 Chicago Colts, 69 Chicago Fire, 3–4 Children’s Building, 43, 84 cities, 20–21 Cleveland, Grover, 16, 22 Codman, Henry, 9, 10 Cody, William, 69, 70; see also photos following page 28 Colorado Agricultural College, 52 Colorado Building, 43–46, 74, 75, 79; see also photos following page 57 Colorado Day, 54 Colorado Mineral Palace: see photos following page 57 Colorado School of Mines: see photos following page 57 Colorado Springs, 37, 38 Columbian Guards, 26, 56; see also photos following page 28 Columbian half dollar, 40 Columbus, Christopher, 27 Cornelius, Charles, 79 Creede (mining community), 49 Cripple Creek (mining community), 49, 51 Custer, George Armstrong, 20

index Denver (Colorado), 38–39, 91 Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, 37, 38 depression, of the 1890s, 33, 88, 90 Douglass, Frederick, 62 Dreiser, Theodore, 2 electricity, 68 Eliot, Charles, 93 farms, 21 Ferris, George, 13, 67 Ferris wheel, 55, 67; see also photos following page 28 Field, Marshall, 5, 87 Field Columbian Museum, 87, 88; see also photos following page 57 Forest Queen Mine: see photos following page 57


Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, 2, 3 Garland, Hamlin, 25 Gibson, Charles, 91 Goodell, R. E., 33–34 Harlan, A. W., 7, 8 Hardy, Arthur, 57 Harrison, Benjamin, 9 Harrison, Carter, 69, 71 Harter, S. B., 75–76 Hayden, Sophia, 10, 60; see also photos following page 28 Haymarket Square, 20 H. Jay Smith Exploring Company, 46 Holloway, Isabel, 79 Howells, William Dean, 57 Jackson, William Henry, 47 Janes, Frank, 75 Joplin, Scott, 61 Keast, William, 53, 88; see also photos following page 57 Kipling, Rudyard, 1 Kit Carson County, 38 Krupp Gun Works, 15, 59 Lansing, Alida P., 52; see also photos following page 57 La Plata County, 38 Leadville (Colorado), 33–34

Lease, Mary, 21 Lippincott, Sara Jane, 3 Mancos (Colorado), 46, 47 Manitou Springs, 38 Marsh, Laura, 83–84 Mason, Charlie, 46 Masters, Edgar Lee, 29, 93 McCormick, Cyrus Hall, 3 Mesabi Iron Range, 23 Mesa Verde (Colorado), 24, 46, 84–85; see also photos following page 57 Midway, at the Fair, 11, 14, 55, 64–68; see also photos following page 28 Miles, Nelson, 14 mining, 47–48 Moody, Dwight, 63, 64 Mudgett, Hermann, 71 Native Americans, 92 “neoclassic eclecticism,” 91 New York City, 8, 9 Oakley, Annie: see photos following page 28 Ogden, William B., 2 Olmsted, Frederick Law, 9, 10, 11 Palmer, Bertha, 60, 61; see also photos following page 57 Pascoe, J. N., 76 Patrick, Mrs. William, 59 Penrose, Richard, 50 Pledge of Allegiance, 14, 62 police, 26 Powers, Preston, 44 Pullman, George, 4–5 Putnam, Frederick Ward, 13 railroads, 2–3, 32–33, 37–38. See also individual lines Randall, Jesse: see photos following page 57 Raymond, Rossiter, 49–50 Red Light district, 69 Rippon, Mary, 79–80 Romney, Caroline, 53 Routt, John, 30, 38, 74

Sandwich Enterprise Company, 25 Sankey, Ira, 63 Scofield, John, 59 Sherman Silver Purchase Act, 89 “Silver Queen” (statue), 35; see also photos following page 57 Smith, Charles H., 75 Sousa, John Phillip, 61 Speer, Robert, 91 Statue of the Republic: see photos following page 28 stock market crash, of 1893, 21 Street, Julian, 57 Stuckert, Mary, 53 Sunday, Billy, 64 Sunday protests, 63–64 Teller, Henry, 89 Thomas, Theodore, 61 Turner, Frederick Jackson, 70 Twain, Mark, 1, 51 University of Colorado, 52 Utes (Native American tribe), 46 Viking ship, 27 Waite, Davis, 54–55; see also photos following page 57 Ward, William: see photos following page 57 Watson, Carrie, 69 Wesson, Grace, ix Wetherill, Richard, 46, 47 “White City,” 11, 18 Williams, Friend Pitts, 61 women, 10, 31, 43–44, 47, 58; and exhibits, 52–53; and involvement in Fair, 60; rights of, 59; shocked by “belly dance,” 66; and suffrage, 53; see also photos following page 57

History | Colorado

cover illustration courtesy of karen a. and mark a. vendl cover design by karen mazur

Duane A. Smith is professor of history at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. He is also the author of San Juan Bonanza: Western Colorado’s Mining Legacy, San Juan Legacy: Life in the Mining Camps, and many other books on Colorado and its mining history.

Colorado Goes to the Fair World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893

Colorado Goes to the Fair

“An interesting combination of analysis of the exposition itself and the generally enthusiastic participation of Coloradans, who shared the excitement of an exposition celebrating the accomplishments of America and its westward-looking society. In the late nineteenth century Colorado was internationally associated with Western investment opportunities and risks. The search for national and international notoriety and publicity explains why Coloradans were anxious to participate in the Columbian exposition of 1893.”—Ronald C. Brown, author of Hard-Rock Miners: The Intermountain West, 1860–1920

Smith | Vendl | Vendl


n many ways, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, more popularly known as the Chicago World’s Fair, symbolized the American people’s belief that today’s glory and tomorrow’s future rested with them, their country, and their democracy. A sixmonth extravaganza of education, entertainment, and amazement, the “White City” sparkled in the daytime and emerged at night, seductive and enchanting. The Fair aroused patriotism, pride, and a sense of achievement in almost all Americans, yet 1893 proved a troubling year for the United States, and for the young state of Colorado in particular. The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act created labor tension in the Colorado mines and contributed to a devastating national depression that would have a lingering impact on Colorado for years. In this heavily illustrated text, the authors trace the glory of the World’s Fair and the impact it would have on Colorado, where Gilded Age excess clashed with the enthusiasm of westward expansion.

Karen A. and Mark A. Vendl are both retired geologists who are interested in Colorado mining history. They are both active members of the Mining History Association; Karen was president of that organization in 2009 and 2010.

isbn 978-0-8263-5041-1 University of New Mexico Press | 800-249-7737

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Duane A. Smith | karen A. VendL | mark A. VendL