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Setting a symbol of the season on high

Frontier DiaryWilla Soncarty

Darkness shrouded the shoulders of Red Mountain as the winter of 1951 set in. The holidays were drawing closer, and the streets and homes of Glenwood Springs were decorated for the Christmas season. However, for the employees of the Glenwood Springs Electric Department, something was missing. As the employees studied the mountain, it became obvious what was needed: a beacon of hope, goodwill and community unity. An electrically lighted symbol of the season was envisioned on the mountain.It was thought a large wooden star, set with lights, would beam brightly from the hill; however, complications in construction and transport forced abandonment of the idea. The men decided instead to construct a lighted cross. On a cold December morning in 1951, Leonard Blotiaux, Paul Williams, Gordon Halford, Jay Simpson and Gene Stromberg hauled the completed 40 x 18 foot wooden cross along with accompanying equipment by toboggan through thigh-deep snow. Their ascent took four hours to city property on Red Mountain. By the end of the day, Dec. 14, 1951, the cross’ 110 40-watt lamps glowed their first holiday greeting to the community. The electricity for this first lighting was supplied from a power line used by the Red Mountain Ski Tow.A challenge by the ACLU in 1991 moved the cross from city property to private land higher on Red Mountain. This new cross, rebuilt through donations of time and money, became bigger and more visible.Through numerous Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter holidays, as well as remembering the fourteen firefighters lost in the Storm King Fire, the cross has shown that community unity occurs not only at the holidays but everyday in Glenwood Springs. “Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Mondays, and Thursdays through Saturdays.


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