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Holidays and Fairs

What do these photos tell you about the holidays miners celebrated?

Fourth Of July In Cripple Creek

This is a Fourth of July parade in Cripple Creek. The photo was taken in 1898.

Fourth of July In Cripple Creek

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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The Fourth of July was a major holiday celebrated in every mining town. It usually began with a parade down the main street. In many towns, someone also read the Declaration of Independence or made a patriotic speech. The miners put on drilling and other contests.

Their Own Words

"The drilling contests on the Fourth of July were always red-letter events attracting large crowds of both spectators and competitors. Piles of rocks were hauled into the town. Since [working] one drill required two men (one to hold the drill, one to strike it with a sledge hammer), they all "paired off" and each pair drilled a hole in a rock. Whoever drilled the farthest within a certain period of time received a prize."

Source: Bennett E. Seymour, quoted in Mary Grace Wall, "Recollections of Early Colorado," Colorado Magazine 16 (May 1939):106.

Firemen Race In Telluride

The people in this photo were watching a firemen’s race. The photo was taken in Telluride on July 4, 1909.

Firemen Race In Telluride

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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The Fourth of July was celebrated with contests as well as parades and public speeches. Firemen’s races were always a popular event. Fire crews from various towns would race against one another. They tried to see which crew could get an agreed upon place, hook up their hoses, and be the first to pump water on the imaginary fire.

Their Own Words

"The Annual Firemen's Meet was one of the big occasions in the state, and the rivalry between the teams of the different towns was keen. The Harry A. Milnix Team of Trinidad and the J.B. Orman Team of Pueblo were the outstanding brigades of the states and the greatest competitors. It was not an uncommon thing for a town to hire professional runners for these contests. There were two kinds of races: the hub to hub, a straightaway run; and the wet race, in which the teams made the run, unreeled the hose, coupled up, and the first to throw water was the winner. Del Norte at this time had three brigades: the Engine Company, with red shirts; the Hose Company, with gray shirts; and the Hook and Ladder Company, made up of younger fellows, with blue shirts." 

Source: Robert Born (1934), CWA Interview Doc. 8/349, Colorado Historical Society.

The Ice Palace In Leadville

This is a picture of the Ice Palace at Leadville. A fair was held at this ice castle during the winter of 1895-1896.

The Ice Palace In Leadville

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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During the winter of 1895, the people of Leadville built the Ice Palace and held a fair to attract visitors to their city. The palace was built of blocks of ice. It covered an entire city block. Inside was an ice-skating rink, a restaurant, and a ballroom for dancing. People came from miles around to meet friends, skate and have fun. The Ice Palace opened on January 1, 1896 and closed on June 1, when the ice began to melt.

Their Own Words

"We got two cuttings of twenty-inch ice from the Leadville lakes. Out on the lakes, the blocks of ice were sawed out with a hand saw, then hauled to shore by hooks, and loaded upon sleds, where they were pulled by four-horse teams to the ice palace, one and one-half miles distant. . . .
"After the ice- blocks had been trimmed, they were laid in the forms, and sprayed with water. In the place of mortar we used water which froze the blocks together into a solid wall. It was cold work, and I wore two coats most of the time. . . ."                                                                                                                        "Day and night shifts worked for two months to complete the huge structure which covered five acres of ground.
"It was larger than any other house of ice that ever was built. . .
"It covered an entire city block. . . .
"The formal opening of the Ice Palace took place on January 1, 1896 . . . . The Palace lasted from January first until June first, when it began melting and had to be closed the first of July."         

 Source: James M. Murray, quoted in Mrs. James R. Harvey, "The Leadville Ice Palace of 1896," Colorado Magazine 27 (May 1940): 95-96, 97, 100-101.

Inside the Ice Palace

This is the Leadville Ice Palace’s skating rink.

Inside the Ice Palace

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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The ice-skating rink was the Ice Palace’s main attraction. This large rink was two-thirds the length of a football field. The photo was taken during the daytime. At night the rink was lighted by electric lights.

Their Own Words

"The visitor to the Palace entered the north gateway, passed up a broad stairway of glistening ice, and found himself in the great ice rink. . . . The ice surface was eighty feet wide and one hundred and ninety feet long. About the walls were pillars of ice and in the center of each was embedded an incandescent electric lamp, so that light radiated from them in all directions. . . ."                               "From the Eighth Street entrance one came into the grand ballroom, fifty feet wide by eighty feet long, with an auxiliary ballroom and dining room of the same dimensions to the right of the rink. These two halls were houses built within the ice palace, kept at a comfortable temperature by large base-burner stoves. The parlors were furnished with easy chairs and settees for those who wished to rest from skating or dancing. . . Here was also a restaurant, a kitchen, concession booths, to sell articles of every description. . . ."

 Source: James A. Murray, quoted in Mrs. James R. Harvey, "The Leadville Ice Palace of 1896," Colorado Magazine 27 (May 1940): 95-96, 97, 100-101.

A Parade In Leadville

This parade celebrated the opening of the Leadville Ice Palace. The photo was taken on January 1, 1896.

A Parade In Leadville

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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The people of Leadville opened the Ice Palace with a parade down the city’s main street. Visitors from Denver and other Colorado cities attended the parade. During the coming months, many visitors came to Leadville to visit the Ice Palace.