100 Years Ago Today: Art-O-Graph Film Company Makes Movies in Colorado

Steamboat Pilot, March 26, 1919

The Art-O-Graf film company, a Denver-based movie studio, was owned by filmmaker/producer/actor Otis B. Thayer (1863–1935), with offices in downtown Denver and studios in Englewood, CO.

From 1919 – 1924, Art-O-Graf was known for producing low-budget Westerns during the Silent Era of films. Art-O-Graf shot many of their mountainous exterior scenes in Steamboat Springs, including the film in today’s article, Wolves of the Street, which was filmed in 1919 and released in 1920.

Promo poster for Wolves of the Street
Art-O-Graf, Denver City Directory Listing, 1920

Art-O-Graf wasn’t Otis Thayer’s first attempt at running a film-making company. Previous enterprises include the Cheyenne Motion Picture Company, Columbine Film Company, and the Colorado Motion Picture Company, among others. Nor was Wolves of the Street his directorial debut. Far from it, in fact, as Thayer has 81 film directing credits to his name.

Art-O-Graf promotional tent for their film, Miss Arizona

Thayer loved Steamboat Springs as a backdrop for his Westerns. He once said, “God made the vicinity around Steamboat Springs especially for the taking of moving pictures.”

True to his word, the mining scenes in Wolves of the Street were filmed at the rugged and picturesque Fish Creek Falls, just outside of Steamboat. Also, at least one of the street scenes was filmed at the corner of 9th and Lincoln Ave, near where the iconic F. M. Light & Sons store is located today. Thayer even had plans to build a second studio in Steamboat, but there’s no indication that happened.

On the set of Wolves of the Street in Steamboat Springs, 1919
Denver Public Library, Western History Department

Thayer’s love for shooting film on location in Colorado almost killed him in 1920. According to The Motion Picture World periodical, Thayer nearly drowned while wading into the Gunnison River looking for the perfect set location. The river was higher than he thought, and while trying to extract himself he got stuck in quicksand. Luckily, his crew was able to rescue him.

Otis Thayer
Otis B. Thayer, Director/Producer/President of Art-O-Graf

1920 was a particularly busy year for Thayer, aside from almost dying, for he also directed and released the film, The Desert Scorpion, which like today’s film, starred Ed Cobb and Vida Johnson. He paid the actors by the week, so he might as well get his money’s worth out of them.

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Ed Cobb (left) from Wolves of the Street, 1919

Edmund Fessenden Cobb (1892–1974) had 665 acting credits between his roles in shorts and feature length films. Most of his roles were in Westerns. Typically he played a grumpy fellow, as indicated in the set of his mouth in the picture above. In 1934, he starred in the first horror-western called The Rawhide Terror, which devolved from a 12 part serial into a disastrous, unwatchable B-movie. After this release, Cobb was relegated to bit parts.

Ed Cobb in profile
fromA Biographical Dictionary of Silent Film Western Actors and Actresses by Katchmer, 2002

100 Years Ago Today: Famous Goat, Long Dead, Butts In Again

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Colorado Transcript, March 20, 1919
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White Angora Goat, like the one in the article

Today’s article is so weird and chock full of its own history that I’m just going to transcribe it below since the newsprint, found here, is kind of hard to read. It’s a story about a college rivalry, a dead goat, and the riots that broke out because of it.

From the Colorado Transcript on March 20, 1919:

“The University of Colorado has been in furor since last Saturday night, when the famous Mines-Boulder goat disappeared from the Mackey auditorium, and no little stir has been caused in Golden among Mines students because the Boulder bunch accuses the Miners of having stolen the famous angora.

The goat was spirited away sometime during the Mines-Boulder basketball game, and for that reason the Boulderites claim that the Miners were the purloiners. The Miners, in turn, swear that they know nothing about the goat.

The war over this goat became so hot that two years ago it was voted that the winner of the annual football game between the two schools should keep it, and that it should go to the winner each year. The U. of C. boys claim that if the Miners swiped the goat last Friday night they violated that agreement. The Miners deny taking the trophy, but on the other hand they allege that if a Miner did get away with it, they did not violate any agreement, as Boulder refused to play the strong Miners football team last fall, thus cheating the Miners out of a chance to get the goat back on the field of battle.

This famous animal was captured by the Miners at the football game in Boulder in 1913. It has been dressed up in Mines colors by university men, and paraded up and down the field. The Miners made way with him, brought him to Golden, and later had him killed and taxidermized. Then he was given a place of honor in the trophy room.

Later, in the same year, six University of Colorado upperclassmen undertook to kidnap the goat, but instead of accomplishing the feat were caught by the Miners, their hair was shaved from their heads and the words “Mines” written with red paint across their foreheads. In 1914 unsuccessful attempts were made to get the goat. In November, 1916, six university students invaded the Mines’ goattery while the shepherds slept and carried the famed animal to Boulder.

Soon afterwards a party of Mines students went to Boulder, broke into the Harbeck residence on Euclid avenue where Clark Pyle, a university student, was in charge, treated Pyle roughly, and went home without the goat. A night or two later a crowd of university students went to Golden and spread red paint generously on the Minos campus walks and buildings. Such signs as “To Hell With the Miners!” and “Who Has the Miners Goat?” appeared in
abundance.

Feeling between students of the two schools became so hostile that it was thought for a while that the Mines-Colorado 1916 football game would have to be called off. The Miners threatened to reach Boulder in a special train to “clean up” university students. Mass meetings were held at both schools in which Webster’s dictionary was exhausted of its supply of virulent adjectives. Faculties of both schools stepped into the breach. Ed McBride, then president of the Associated Students of the University of Colorado, came to Golden with several fellow students and in a peaceful, ladylike manner removed the paint that bore the Boulder label. Matters then quieted down. The whereabouts of the goat became a deep secret. The war kept it from notoriety in 1917 and 1918.”

**End of article**

A few other bits to the story:

  • Despite claims that the goat had been located, it was never found, but theories abound including that it was burned at the stake to quell the student unrest.
  • According to a 1916 issue of the School of Mines Magazine, the goat was first paraded around by CU in 1912 as a taunt to Mines with the slogan, “The Engineers have got your goat, Mines.”
  • CU Dean, F. B. R. Hellems, once said that this goat was the most “diabolically intelligent animal he had ever heard of because of its ability to disappear at such opportune times.”

100 Years Ago Today: Buy More Liberty Loans

Aspen Democrat-Times, March 19, 1919

To read the propaganda promoting Liberty Loans between 1917 – 1919, you would think that if you didn’t buy one of these loans — also known as bonds and as securities — you were not only un-American, you were actively aiding the Central Powers in killing our soldiers and welcoming Huns into the United States.

Lend As They Fight
1917 Liberty Bond propaganda poster
Hun Or Home?
Propaganda poster showing a monstrous German looming

Even today’s brief article, announcing that Governor Shoup wants Coloradoans to buy Liberty Loans, mentions the word obligation in reference to people’s responsibility to buy these bonds.

So what were these Liberty Loans? Why was this one called the Victory Loan? And why was the government pushing so hard for people to buy these Loans?

Keep These Off The U. S. A.
Liberty Loan propaganda

The first of five WWI-era Liberty Loans was issued on April 24, 1917, under the Emergency Loan Act. This was immediately after the U.S. joined WWI, and the Loan was intended to fund the country’s initial war efforts. U.S. citizens were told to buy the bond, hold onto it for a set minimum number of years, and then be paid back plus a fixed interest rate by the government.

Charlie Chaplin sees his liberty bond money handed to an industry man to make guns for soldiers

Each of these five Loan periods was given a target dollar amount, an end date in the event the target was not reached, an interest rate at which the loan would be paid back, and an early cash out date and late cash out date. For example, the fifth Liberty Loan, known as the Victory Liberty Loan because the war was over, had a $4.5 billion target. Prospective buyers had from Apr 21, 1919 until May 10, 1919 to buy bonds, in $50 increments, at a 4.75% interest rate, and they could cash out after 3 years, but the interest would stop accruing after 4 years.

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Victory Liberty Loan notes from 1919
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Propaganda poster for the Fifth and Final Liberty Loan

Backing up a bit to the question of why the government was pushing so hard for these bonds, the first two Liberty Loans were not selling as well as hoped. Rumors were swirling that notes were being sold under their value just to make more sales. Treasury Secretary, William McAdoo, created a propaganda machine under the Committee on Public Information in order to push people to buy more bonds.

This committee helped make and distribute thousands of persuasive posters, enlisted celebrities like Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks to make speeches promoting sales, urged communities to meet bond-buying quotas, promised prizes to volunteer promoters like custom buttons and German helmets, and spread rhetoric built upon the idea that buying these bonds was American, and anyone who didn’t buy them was un-American.

Steel prize tokens for volunteer promoters who sold the most Liberty Loans in their communities. These were made from melted down German cannons.

By the end of 1919, the U.S. had accrued debt in the ballpark of $25 billion as a result of Liberty Bond and other securities sales.

Timeline for Liberty Loans: The second Liberty Loan was issued on Oct 1, 1917, the third Liberty Loan was issued on Apr 5, 1918, the fourth on Sep 28, 1918, and the fifth and last called the Victory Loan was issued on Apr 21, 1919.

Depiction of the battle at Chateau-Thierry where the German cannon was captured and later melted down into Victory Loan prize buttons

100 Years Ago Today: Gen. Wood Makes Bid For President

Herald Democrat, March 14, 1919

Major General Leonard Wood was one of the most decorated Army veterans in U. S. History. And he was damned close to becoming President of the United States as well, if only he were in that smoke-filled “room where it happens” (shout out to my Hamilton heads) during the Republican National Convention of 1920.

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Gen. Leonard Wood

However, the name Leonard Wood is not well known today. I’d certainly never heard it before I came across today’s article. So let’s take a brief tour through the life of this very model of a modern major general (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Wood was born in New Hampshire in 1860 and studied medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he became a surgeon in 1884. He officially joined the Army in 1886 as an assistant-surgeon serving under Captain Lawton in the Indian Wars, notably during the chase and eventual capture of the Apache chief, Geronimo. Wood was awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor for his service during this time, and he documented the Geronimo pursuit in his journal, published as Chasing Geronimo.

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Leonard Wood’s Certificate of Medal of Honor

When the Spanish-American war broke out in 1898, Wood and his friend, Theodore Roosevelt, left their positions (as physician to the President and assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy, respectively) to recruit the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, known as the Rough Riders. Col. Wood was the commanding officer and Lt. Col. Roosevelt was his second in command during their famous victories at Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill in Cuba. Wood was promoted to Brigadier General for his service, and he stayed on the island from 1899-1902 as the Military Governor of Cuba, working with Walter Reed to establish infrastructure there in the areas of education, police, sanitation, and justice.

Col. Wood and Lt. Col Roosevelt

Continuing his meteoric rise, Wood was made Major General in 1903 when he was transferred to the Philippines to serve as Governor of the Moro Province until 1906. He then commanded the Department of the East until his appointment as Army Chief of Staff under President William Howard Taft from 1910-1914, the only physician to ever hold that position.

Politically, Maj. Gen. Wood was a Republican most closely aligned with Theodore Roosevelt’s brand of imperialism and progressive-ism. He was a proponent of the Preparedness Movement, which aimed to establish military training centers in in places like Plattsburg, NY for training officers and infantry in anticipation of World War I. His political positions set him in opposition to President Woodrow Wilson, who passed him over for Commander of the AEF when the U. S. joined the Great War.

Color poster with text "Are you trained to defend your country? Plattsburg." Uniformed soldier with gun and camp tents.
Preparedness Movement Propaganda

Early in 1919, Leonard Wood’s name was bandied about the Republican party as a candidate for the 1920 presidential election. Supporting groups like the Wood Republican Club in Colorado from today’s article saw him as the political heir to the recently deceased Theodore Roosevelt, who actually thought about running in 1920 before his untimely demise.

Indeed, Wood was considered the front runner for the Republican ticket all the way up to the Republican National Convention in 1920. He won the New Hampshire primary in his home state, as well as seven other state primaries.

During the Republican National Convention, Wood was leading every ballot over Frank Lowden, Hiram Johnson, and Warren G. Garding, but he didn’t have quite enough delegates to be declared the victor. Wood was thought by some in the party to have spent too much money on his Presidential campaign (ha! think about that for a second). Finally, on the 10th ballot, after Republican bosses had met in so-called “smoke filled rooms,” Harding, an Ohio Senator and newspaper man, was chosen as a compromise candidate. He would go on to win the Presidential election with his Vice President, Calvin Coolidge, over Democratic nominee, James M. Cox.

In Wood’s final years, he commanded the Central Division and then served in the Philippines for one last mission, retiring from active service in 1921. He was not quite done yet, however. He became the governor general of the Philippines from 1921-1927. Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood died during surgery for a recurring brain tumor on August 7, 1927 in Boston, Massachusetts. Fort Leonard Wood, an Army combat engineer school, is named after him.

from The Military Obligation of Citizenship by Leonard Wood, 1919

100 Years Ago Today: Murderer Ends His Life in Prison

Moffat County Courier, March 13, 1919

The tragedy of Celina Haberl reached its conclusion when her murderer, Richard H. Baugh, ended his own life by hanging himself in his jail cell in the Canon City State Penitentiary.

Miss Haberl was just 21-years-old when Baugh shot her to death on June 7, 1918. She and her sister had been visiting their grandmother when they got off their streetcar and Baugh snuck up on them from an alley, saying to Celina Haberl, “you don’t have to run, Ethel.” Police reports reveal that he’d been stalking the woman in the neighborhood the last two nights. Baugh killed Haberl with a gunshot to the head, and then Baugh attempted to kill himself by shooting himself in the head. He later recovered in the hospital.

Apparently, Richard Baugh mistook Celina Haberl for Ethel Lane, who he said wronged him, according to a conversation he had with Police Chief, Hamilton Armstrong, in the hospital. The Police Chief informed Baugh, “you got the wrong girl.” Side note: remember when a lunatic threatened to cut off Chief Armstrong’s head and send it to Governor Shoup?

One confusing complication to the story is that today’s article refers to Baugh as a “blind convict.” Does this explain why he mistook Celina Haberl for Ethel Lane? But how would he be able to identify her in the first place, let alone shoot her? Or, did the attempted suicide after her murder cause his blindness? Baugh’s blindness is not mentioned until reports of his trial, when he is referred to as “blinded in both eyes,” and his expression at his sentence is described as “immobile.”

In September of 1918, Baugh was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor. He took his own life on January 20th, 1919, although the story didn’t make it to the Moffat County Courier until March 13, 1919.

100 Years Ago Today: Airedales Are Kings Among Dogs

Herald Democrat, March 12, 1919

Today, dogs perform dozens of specialized services for people, such as the work of Autism Assistance Dogs, Veteran Service Dogs, Brace/Mobility Support Dogs, Avalanche Rescue Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dog, and many more. But back in 1919, the idea that dogs could be trained to perform such highly skillful tasks, beyond their known abilities as retrievers during a hunt, was relatively new.

The Airedale Terrier was one of the first breeds identified as capable of learning such tasks, and they proved themselves invaluable to the British as well as German Armed Forces in World War I, performing vital services like finding wounded soldiers, carrying messages across the front lines, and acting as guard dogs. Perhaps it was their reputation in this last skill that led the Holly Sugar Company to use Airedales as watch dogs for their sugar factory in Swink, Colorado in today’s article.

Swink Sugar Factory of the Holly Sugar Company
Courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History Department

The Airedale has been used more especially for guarding purposes. The peculiarly faithful and sagacious nature of the breed, combined with its adaptability to every circumstance where it may be required, whether it be the farmer’s yard, the factory, or a lady’s drawing-room, makes it very useful indeed.

Edwin Hautenville Richardson, from Watch Dogs: Their Training & Management

Airedales originated in the Aire Valley of northern England near the Scottish border during the mid-1800s. The Aire Valley was primarily a manufacturing town, and the mill and factory workers who lived there wanted to breed a tough, biddable dog to hunt rats that infested the area, as well as a dog that could retrieve ducks during a hunt. According to the AKC, the Airedale originated as a cross between several breeds, including the Otterhound for its sense of smell, the now-extinct Black and Tan Terriers for their desire to learn, and the Irish and Bedlington Terriers for their alertness.

 The Western Front's dogs of war revealed
Lt. Col. Richardson in the trenches with one of his dogs

During WWI, under the training guidance of British Lieutenant Colonel, Edwin Hautenville Richardson, the Airedale was introduced as one of the first War Dogs for the Allied side. Ironically, Richardson was made aware of the potential of war dogs by the Germans, who were training dogs to find wounded soldiers as early as 1914.

from Watch Dogs: Their Training & Management
by Edwin Hautenville Richardson

Despite the British military’s reluctance to catch on to the value of war dogs, Lt. Col. Richardson and his wife, Blanche, set up the British War Dogs Training School at Shoeburyness, Essex, where they trained hundreds of dogs.

“[Airedales] are very determined. They’re very single-minded and there’s no stopping them.

Lt. Col. Edwin Hautenville Richardson
Dogs
Airedales in the Red Cross uniform and carrying a messenger bag

Thousands of Airedales, as well as other breeds, were trained as messengers, sentries, and guards for the British Armed Forces. Messages were put in tins around the necks of dogs and they were identified by a scarlet collar or tally. Wendy Turner, secretary of the Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland said, “Red Cross used them as first aid carriers, they had a little package on their neck with medication in it and everything, and they were used for going out and finding wounded soldiers on the battlefield.”

Airedales were even taught to wear gas masks so that they could serve in the trenches on the front lines.

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Airedales wearing gas masks in WWI training

Jack, an Airedale British War Dog, was one of the most heroic service dogs in WWI. In 1918, Jack’s battalion, an advanced unit of the Sherwood Foresters, was completely trapped by German forces who had blown huge mortar shell holes behind the Allies. In front of them was a line of impenetrable barbed wire.

The Foresters were doomed, and Jack was their only hope of summoning reinforcements. The Airedale was sent to the deliver a message past the Germans to the next Allied line behind them. Jack suffered grave wounds during his mission. His jaw was shattered by shrapnel and a shell ripped down his back, but he kept going for another mile and a half. He saved his battalion, but Jack died soon after delivering his message.

Historic film footage of war dogs in the trenches of WWI

Presidents who have owned Airedales include Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, and Calvin Coolidge. Author John Steinbeck also had an Airedale. The 1919 Best in Show was won by an Airedale.

100 Years Ago Today: Women Vying for Fire Lookout Jobs

Fort Collins Courier, March 11, 1919

The first woman ever hired as a Fire Lookout by the U.S. Forest Service was Hallie Morse Daggett, who was the Lookout at Eddy’s Gulch Lookout Station atop Klamath Peak in Klamath National Forest in Northern California, starting in 1913, when the Lookout log cabin seen below was first built. She stayed on board there as Fire Lookout for 14 years.

Hallie M. Daggett and her pack horse ready to leave the Eddy Gulch Station in the fall.
Hallie M. Daggett at the Eddy’s Gulch Lookout Station in California

A full page, illustrated article about Hallie Daggett ran in Colorado’s Wet Mountain Tribune on October 30, 1914, and other mentions of the “Only Woman Forest Fire Lookout” appear in newspapers across the country in the years leading up to 1919, so today’s article about women applying for Colorado Fire Lookout positions may have been sparked by Daggett. However, women applying for these positions were in for an uphill climb.

To get a sense of the discrimination Daggett was facing at that time, consider the following recommendation she received from Assistant Fire Ranger, Mr. M. H. McCarthy, who writes of Daggett:

The wide-awake woman of 30 years…is absolutely devoid of the timidity which is ordinarily associated with her sex as she is not afraid of anything that walks, creeps, or flies.

M. H. McCarthy in a letter to W.B. Rider, Supervisor of Klamath Forest
Groundhouse with woman LO
Woman standing beside the Twin Sisters Fire Lookout in Rocky Mountain National Park in 1919

Daggett was not only one of the only female Fire Lookouts in the country, but she was also one of a handful of women doing any kind of field work for the Forest Service at that time, and indeed for the next several decades. Women were hired by the Forest Service almost entirely as office clerks and educators, and some men wouldn’t even hire women for that.

The employment of women clerks in the Supervisor’s office was not looked upon with favor and the policy was established to employ men only the idea being that a woman clerk could not handle the “rough” work required in the administration of a forest, such as assembling and shipping fire tools, rustling fire fighters, etc. Such work properly was for a “two fisted” ranger or forest officer. However, it was not long before it became apparent that there was another element in forest officers’ work which had not been taken into consideration. That was paper work: reports, letters to forest users, etc. Such work proved to be too much for the “two fisted” rangers and supervisors.

Albert Cousins, U.S. Forest Service

Some other women cutting through Forest Service sexism in this era were Edith R. Mosher, Founder of Environmental Education in the Forest Service, who entered the Forest Service in 1902, and Margaret March-Mount who was a conservation educator for the Bighorn and Shoshone National Forests.

The WWII era would provide more opportunities for women in the Forest Service, but this was not exactly due to a sudden equality in gender politics; rather, it was due to an increased need to fill positions vacated by men enlisted in military service. It wasn’t until the women’s movement of the 1960s-70s that the Forest Service was challenged to change its hiring practices in fieldwork positions such as Fire Fighters and Forest Rangers, as well as leadership roles like Chief Forester.

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Twin Sisters Fire Lookout, 1916
Courtesy National Park Service

Today’s headline refers to the Twin Sisters Fire Lookout in Rocky Mountain National Park, which was a 7 x 7 foot wooden fire lookout, built by the Forest Service in 1914 under direction from fire guard, H.G. Knowles. In 1925, the National Parks Service took over operation of the Fire Lookout.

The Lookout was the highest in RMNP, at 11,436′ atop Twin Sisters Mountains. It was lined with glass windows that were always under threat from high winds, but it was a great location to view the forests below 14er Longs Peak and the nearby town of Allenspark. Inside the Lookout was a map of the area used to pinpoint the location of a fire, and a telephone to call in the fire.

Stone house residence, 1925
Twin Sisters Stone Residence in 1925

If you were hired as the new Fire Lookout of Twin Sisters, first you had to get to work, which involved a four-mile hike up a trail that gained 2,300 feet. That’s steep! Once you reached the summit of Twin Sisters, you were greeted by your new home, a squat 10 x 12′ stone structure with a bunk bed and a fireplace.

The original Fire Lookout and Stone Residence
Courtesy National Parks Service

The house was built of “uncoursed fieldstone and mortar,” with the stone sourced from the area surrounding the house. According to the National Register of Historic Places, “the arched or box-car roof represents an important trend in Colorado architecture during the period when the Forest Service constructed this building.” This arched roof was a popular design during WWI construction projects.

The house functioned as a living quarters for those stationed at the Fire Lookout until 1969, at which time it was converted into a radio repeater station and storage unit. Although the Lookout has been taken down, the living quarters remains today.

Walter E. Kiener, a Swiss mountain climber, lived in the shelter house in the 1920s as a research biologist. He lost every finger except one and all of
Walter E. Kiener, famed climber of Longs Peak, also served as Fire Lookout for the 1926 fire season
Twin Sisters Fire Lookout Shelter House, today