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Topical Budget 114-1: Cowboy Pageant (1913)


Main image of Topical Budget 114-1: Cowboy Pageant (1913)
35mm, black and white
Production CompanyTopical Film Co.

Cowboy riders at Colorado Springs.

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The town of Colorado Springs was founded in 1871 by General William J. Palmer, a Civil War commander who made his fortune in the railway business. He specifically intended it to be a major tourist attraction, but was also keen to attract upmarket custom, so he banned gambling and alcohol (the latter ban was not lifted until the repeal of Prohibition in 1933), preferring to emphasise its healing mineral waters and mild climate, as well as its spectacular geographical and geological features such as the sandstone outcrops of the Garden of the Gods. It was while admiring the view from nearby Pike's Peak that Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write 'America the Beautiful' in 1893, the country's unofficial national anthem.

Colorado Springs quickly became renowned as one of America's higher-class resort communities, nicknamed 'Little London' for its ability to attract wealthy Europeans and East Coast dwellers, though since World War II it has become equally well known as a major military base, after the Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base was built, followed by the United States Air Force Academy.

This Topical Budget item depicts the third and final 'Shan Kive' celebration, an annual event begun in 1911 that combined an attempt at reviving the flagging tourist trade with bridge-building between the white inhabitants of Colorado and the Ute Indians, who had been forced out of the region onto reservations in Utah and southern Colorado after the Meeker Massacre of 1879.

The Shan Kive of 1913 was staged between 2 and 4 September, and spanned the entire city. The focal point was the Garden of the Gods park, where a delegation of Ute Indians performed traditional dances, including their famous Sun Dance. Other events included covered-wagon parades, bucking broncos and a masked ball, all designed to convey images of the 'old west'.

Michael Brooke

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