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Glenwood Springs celebrated 50 years in 1935

Frontier Diary
Willa Kane
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical SocietyA weathered stagecoach that brought passengers from Aspen to Glenwood Springs in the early days, is part of the parade celebrating Glenwood Springs' Golden Jubilee on Aug. 27, 1935. This festival brought many Glenwood Springs pioneers together for several days of fun and reminiscing.
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“Regarding the meetings of the first city council, much water has gone over the dam since then, and I have very hazy recollections of them. That was the summer I was courting my dear wife, and I could tell you much more about that than I can about the meetings of the council.”

– Joseph E. Schram, first mayor of Glenwood Springs (1885-1886), Aug. 15, 1935



In August 1935, Glenwood Springs was turning 50 years old. In celebration of her first half century, the streets were decorated in the colors of gold and blue. Hundreds of printed invitations had been mailed to former residents across the county, requesting attendees to participate in a week of fun and the sharing of memories. Glenwood Springs’ birth had never before been celebrated by the community. This was a monumental occasion.

Mayor Art Kendrick proclaimed the week of Aug. 25-31, 1935, “Homecoming Week” with Aug. 27 designated Golden Anniversary Day, the day 50 years previous in which Glenwood Springs was officially incorporated. Service clubs gathered quickly to plan the events scheduled for the celebration. A parade, costume contests, games, fiddling contest, dancing in the streets, and a barbecue were just some of the events planned for the week. All of the scheduled events were designed to take the participants back 50 years, sparking the memories of those who built Glenwood Springs, while at the same time attempting to pass the experiences of the past to current and future generations.



To provide historical perspective, Chairman Olie Thorson, former mayor and Glenwood Springs businessman, authored a historical retrospect in the Glenwood Post newspaper of the founding of Glenwood Springs. Thorson, who came to Glenwood Springs in 1885 as a young teenager, was as detailed as space would allow. However, as with all things historical, he received complaints from several readers about perceived omissions. Thorson submitted an additional article the following week, giving credit to the accomplishments of community members. He wrote, “I did not omit any names intentionally and am only too glad to get any suggestions or corrections as I am desirous of setting down the true facts as they occurred in the early days or our city.”

While outwardly Glenwood Springs was in celebration, subconsciously there was realization that the experiences, memories, and the pioneers themselves were fading into history. This was one final opportunity to document as best as possible the founding of the community. In the attempt to do this, each business contained at least one historical display, with numerous artifacts described by the Glenwood Post as “a wealth of antiques of value”.

So successful was Homecoming Week that the Glenwood Post proposed the celebration be made into an annual event. The representations of the past through the historical displays provided the greatest impact. “We believe this would be a good time to organize a local historical society to preserve for the future generations the large amount of priceless historical material that can be secured before it is too late.”

About 30 years later, the Frontier Historical Society was organized to preserve the community’s collective memory. While Homecoming Week did not materialize into an annual event, the celebration of Glenwood Springs’ 125th anniversary will be held Aug. 28 at the Glenwood Springs Elementary School. You are invited to step back into Glenwood Springs’ history, relish her present, and anticipate her future.

Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. “Frontier Diary,” which appears the first Tuesday of every month, is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.


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