Monday, January 18, 2016

Did Telluride Have the First Electric Street Lights in the World?


Like many small towns, Telluride claims an impressive-sounding ‘historical first.’ Our particular claim is that Telluride became the site of the world’s first long distance transmission of alternating current for commercial purposes in 1891. The other claim that gets bandied about is that Telluride was the first town in the world to have electric street lights. This record contrasts with the first in its utter lack of qualifiers. Unlike ‘first long distance transmission of alternating current for commercial purposes,’ which looks unwieldy and underwhelming on a signpost, ‘first electric street lights in the world’ is succinct and impressive. It is also almost certainly untrue. The city of Wabash, Indiana claims to be: “the first town in the world to be generally lighted by electricity” as of March 8, 1880 (Tocco 350), more than a decade before Telluride makes its own dubious claim. But there is a basic problem with historical firsts of this nature. What exactly does “generally lighted” mean as opposed to just “lighted?” If a private party had paid for the streetlights instead of the town would it still count? Was every street lit? Every alley? With historical records like these, there is no governing body unless Guinness deigns to intervene. Wabash is not the first town in the world to have electric street lights, though it may have been the first town to be “generally lighted by electricity.” It seems like Paris, true to its nickname, may have that honor, but once again, this is very difficult to substantiate because there are so many different concurrent experiments, exhibitions, and installations, that it is probably misleading to think about a single origin of electric lighting in the first place. ‘First long distance transmission of alternating current for commercial purposes,’ on the other hand, does have some historical value that belies the string of qualifications.
For about a hundred years, electromagnetism was a promising novelty, the object of tinkering by renaissance men, backyard inventors, and soon-to-be-disappointed entrepreneurs. Ben Franklin conducted his famous kite experiment in 1752. Fifty years later, Sir Humphry Davy was able to create an ephemeral and impractical incandescent lamp with a platinum filament. He also created an arc lamp using two pieces of charcoal for carbon contacts (Slingo et al. 649). The real bottleneck, as it turns out, was not the means of generating light via electricity, but the means of generating electricity in the first place. More than a hundred years after Ben Franklin's discovery, the dynamo was invented, and electricity went from a promising curiosity to the technology that transformed the world.
 Sir Humphry Davy
The first practical sources of electric light were arc lamps, in which light is created by a sustained spark jumping between two carbon contact points. This technology is still in use today in the form of some welding torches. As one might imagine, they give off unpleasant bright, harsh light, making them unsuitable for many of the applications for which we use electric lights today. For this reason, the very first practical implementations of electric light were in lighthouses, where brightness is paramount. Experiments in electric lighthouses were conducted as early as 1839, and in 1862, the first permanent commercial electric light was installed in the Dungeness Lighthouse in Kent (Douglas 136). This installation was as much a novelty as a practical measure, and the financial specifics were followed closely in scientific and trade journals, along with much speculation about the eventual utility and cost effectiveness of electric light. It wasn’t until the early 1870s that electric lighting began to see broader commercial success. The invention of relatively small electric generators such as the Gramme Machine allowed localized energy production that alleviated the need for large amounts of copper wire. The arc lamps did not give off a pleasant or calming light, but they did give off a lot of it, and for this reason, once they became economically viable, electric lights were installed in factories and the like, where the potentially greater cost of electricity versus oil or gas was offset by fewer injuries, fewer mislaid tools and parts, and the other benefits of this harsh lighting.
 Gramme Machine
However, to treat the adoption of electric lighting as a purely financial decision, or even a scientific curiosity misrepresents the cultural impact they had on a society that had only ever experienced artificial light that was produced by flame. When outdoor arc lights were turned on in Wabash a witness described the reaction:
No shout or token of joy… disturbed the deep silence that suddenly settled on the vast crowd that had gathered from far and near to witness the consummation of a singular enterprise. The people, almost with bated breath, stood overwhelmed with awe as if they were near a supernatural presence. The strange, weird light, exceeded in power only by the sun, yet mild as moonlight, rendered the courthouse square as light as mid-day (Helm 240).
This scene is frozen in the popular imagination and reiterated in dozens of episodes of The X-Files with the addition of one detail, and the parallel is probably pretty accurate. There is a whiff of ozone in the air. The slack jawed bumpkin stares upward at an eerie, harsh light from on high, speechless and unable to move or react, shortly before he or his cows are abducted and experimented upon. Electric lighting was not just new; it was at the very fringes of science fiction; it was sexy, futuristic, awe-inspiring, and somewhat terrifying.
Scene from The X-Files episode "Tempus Fugit"
Soon railway stations, exhibition halls, and other glamorous venues were employing electric lights as much for what they signified as for their illumination ability. And for this reason there are dozens of cases of temporary installations and exhibits that, in conjunction with a multitude of qualifications, mean that there are several electrical ‘firsts’ in many different places. Wabash may have been the first town in the world to be ‘generally lighted’ by electricity, but Wabash was much smaller than Paris or London, which both had outdoor light exhibitions that preceded any in Indiana. Perhaps the reason Wabash can claim this record is that the town was small enough that four arc lights on a flagpole was enough to ‘generally light’ the whole town, or perhaps it is because the town of Wabash paid for the lights rather than a private individual or company, or because they meant to be installed permanently rather than for purposes of trial or exhibition, or all of the above. There are just too many different possible qualifiers to really declare a winner, and too many people arriving at the same inventions independently and nearly concurrently for these records to mean all that much. One thing we know for sure, though, is that by 1891 Telluride had lost the race for the first electric street lights by a mile.
Telluride’s record, the one that we stake out with our own little fingerprint of qualifications, is that Telluride (it was technically Ames) was the site of the first long distance transmission of alternating current for commercial purposes. By 1891 electric lights were already relatively widespread. In fact, Telluride already had a direct current power plant, and by some accounts there was direct current street lighting prior to 1891. Elsewhere, the famous Yablochkov Candle (a type of arc light) used alternating current to make sure that the two carbon contacts were consumed equally. Telluride’s distinction is that alternating current electricity was used as a means to transport kinetic energy that had been generated in one place and needed to be employed somewhere else. A flume was built between Trout Lake and Ames, a drop of a few thousand feet. Water flowed through the flume and powered a turbine called a Pelton wheel at the Ames power plant. The Pelton wheel was connected to an alternator that converted that mechanical energy into alternating current electricity. The electricity traveled through miles of wire that led to the Gold King Mine in Gold King Basin near Ophir. In Gold King Basin, the electricity powered a 100 horsepower alternating current induction motor that spun at nearly the same speed and torque as the alternator in Ames (the small drop in speed and torque was the result of resistance in the power lines). In short, the kinetic energy of the water wheel was turned into electrical energy, which was transmitted just under 3 miles to the Gold King Mine, where it was turned back into kinetic energy that powered a mill.
 The Gold King Mine, the site of the world's first long distance transmission of alternating current for commercial purposes.
In order for this to happen, they needed transformers to ramp up the voltage of the AC power so that it could be efficiently transmitted, and then ramp it back down to a level that the motor on the other end could handle. They also needed an alternating current motor, which had recently been invented by one Nikola Tesla, and finally they needed an ambitious investor looking to prove a point, Mr. George Westinghouse, who was in the midst of a bitter AC vs DC war with Thomas Edison. Westinghouse was convinced to fund the experiment by an audacious Telluride banker named L.L. Nunn, who was losing a fortune buying coal to power his mill, and whose brother just happened to be an electrical engineer. It was a perfect combination to form the experiment that led to the first long distance transmission of alternating current for commercial purposes.
           This was a culmination of a lot of very cutting edge technology, but its real value was as a proof of concept. Perhaps the single most important factor in the AC vs DC debate was that DC power cannot be easily transformed from high to low voltages. Low voltage electricity is great for powering machines, but it is very inefficient to transmit, incurring significant losses over fairly short distances, and requiring much more copper wire. The Ames Power Plant outside of Telluride implemented brand new technology, like the transformer and Nikola Tesla’s alternating current induction motor, to prove that AC power could be transformed to a high voltage, sent through wires, transformed back into low-voltage electricity and used to power an engine, and that this all could be accomplished without incurring prohibitive infrastructure costs.
Prior to the experiment at Ames, hydropower was on the verge of taking over the nation, but the mechanism by which it would operate was a matter of considerable debate. In 1886, there were plans to electrify the city of Buffalo, NY using the thunderous energy of Niagara Falls. The matters of using the water to turn a wheel, converting that rotation into electricity, and using electricity to create light were non-trivial engineering problems that had nevertheless been solved and implemented elsewhere. The real problem was that Niagara Falls, the source of that kinetic energy, was seventeen miles away from Buffalo, NY, the location of the light bulbs, and there was a lot of debate over how to transport that energy. Several proposals were considered, including using compressed air to transport the kinetic energy to a power plant in Buffalo. Ultimately, after years of debate,Westinghouse Electric's resumé at Ames was the proof they needed to win the bid to turn Niagara Falls into an alternating current power plant, transmitting the electricity over high voltage lines to the city of Buffalo.


Generators at the Adams Power Plant at Niagara Falls
 
 Massive transformers employed at the Adams Power Plant. Only two years after the Ames Generating Plant provided proof of concept, the difference in scale is staggering.


If pneumatic transmission seems like a comically impractical, steampunk approach compared to electricity, it is only because electric transmission has become ubiquitous; we hardly give a passing thought to the infrastructure that delivers it to our lights and washing machines. Long distance transmission of electric energy and the conversion between mechanical and electrical energy have been optimized and normalized to the point that they have become invisible, but the electrical grid is an enormously complicated machine. Consider that large scale energy storage is impractical and cost-prohibitive. If the power grid needs more power, electrical engineers at a power plant have to spin up a turbine to prevent a shortage, and if there is a lull, they have to scale back power production. Because electricity travels at the speed of light, this all happens in real time, and if electricity generation falls outside the tolerances of the grid, thousands of paying customers will be significantly inconvenienced, not to speak of potential equipment damage. There are entire power plants that sit idle, just waiting for a surge in demand, such as halftime during a soccer game when millions of people turn on electric kettles at the same time. Our power grid is an enormous, byzantine, underappreciated system that did not exist in the 1890s.
The implementation of electricity was one of the most fertile times for inventors in the modern era. The engineering challenge of controlling electricity, not to mention generating, transporting, and transforming it, had been at the bleeding edge of science and engineering for a hundred years, and the experiment at the Ames Power Plant is the culmination of this fecundity, and the proof of concept that launched electrical transmission from a promising curiosity to the prevalence it presently enjoys. In Ames, all of the components of modern commercial electricity were in place. In many ways, the primary difference in commercial electricity between 1891 and today is one of scale. The components were primitive by modern standards, and were quickly improved upon, but they completed all of the necessary functions in much the same way that they do today. Despite the underwhelming heft of the phrase “first long distance transmission of alternating current for commercial purposes,” Telluride’s claim to fame is more noteworthy than the more impressive sounding, but ultimately trivial “first electric street lights.”  

Works Cited
Douglas, J.N.. “The Electric Light applied to Lighthouse Illumination.” The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review. Vol. 7 (1879) 135-137. Web. 14 Oct. 2015   

Tocco, Peter. "The Night They Turned the Lights On in Wabash." Indiana Magazine of History [Online], (1999): n. pag. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.

Helm, Thomas B. History of Wabash County Indiana: containing a history of the county; its townships, towns, military records portraits of early settlers and prominent men, personal reminiscences, etc. Chicago: J. Morris, Printer, 1884, 240.
Shoolbred, J.N.. Electric Lighting and Its Practical Application: With Results from Existing Examples. London: Hardwicke & Bogue, 1879. Print.

Slingo, Sir William, Arthur Brooker, and T.F. Wall. Electrical Engineering for Electric Light and Power Artisans and Students: (embracing Those Branches Prescribed in the Syllabus Issued by the City and Guilds Technical Institute). London: Longmans, Green, and Company, 1908. Print.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Traditional Holiday Celebrations in Telluride

The sun is spent, and now his flasks
 Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
 The world's whole sap is sunk;
 
 - John Donne, “A Nocturnal Upon S. Lucy’s Day, Being the Shortest Day”


Italian Catholics and Scandinavian Lutherans alike celebrated Saint Lucy’s Day on December 13th.  It was one of the few Saints celebrated by the Protestants in town. Not unlike Christmas, this holiday has some pagan associations that were incorporated into Christian traditions. St. Lucy’s Day traditionally is held on the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice, and Saint Lucy is associated with light. Many of the Christian myths around St. Lucy involve her bringing light to a place of darkness, including one in which she ventures into the catacombs to bring relief to Christian refugees wearing a wreath covered in candles around her head. Additionally the Latin word lucis means ‘light’. In the high latitudes of Northern Europe, the vestiges of pagan traditions and dark winter months made St. Lucy a natural fit. 



These traditions traveled with immigrants from Italy and Scandinavia to Telluride. In Conversations at 9,000 Feet: A Collection of Oral Histories from Telluride, Colorado, Mary Baker recalls: “My mother always celebrated Santa Lucia, Saint Lucy was on the thirteenth of December. We put out cornmeal for her donkey in a little dish. In the morning it would be gone, and there’d be a big orange or apple or something. I believed in that for a long time, even after I knew there wasn’t any Santa Claus” (138). 
Christmas was widely celebrated in Telluride, but the Finnish community celebration stands out for its Old World taditionality. The entire Finnish community celebrated together at Finn Hall, now a private residence at 440 W. Pacific Ave. Parents brought all of their children’s presents and put them under the communal Christmas tree in the Hall, and children performed memorized passages of Finnish. Dinner consisted of lutefisk, (dried whitefish that has been soaked in lye to give it a gelatinous texture) and potatoes followed by coffee and potluck baked goods. In the evening, sleigh bells Santa Claus entered the hall through the door carrying bags of candy and fruit for the children.

 A Gathering at Finn Hall on W. Pacific Ave. on Sept. 4, 1905

For more information, consult Conversations at 9,000 Feet, which is a fantastic resource for Telluride oral history. You can also call the museum at (970) 728-3344 or email lucas@telluridemuseum.org

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Girls on the Line

"Interior of The Senate, 1921."
Lillian Edwards, Alice Elliott, Fanny Lewis, Effie Reynolds, Louise Walker- These residents of Telluride were among the women willing to name themselves as prostitutes in the United States Census in 1900. That year 29 women in town listed prostitution as their profession, but it is thought that there were 100 plus women working in town at any given time. These women ranged in age from their late teens to mid forties, and came from all over the world to work in turn of the century Telluride. They came from places like Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and more than a dozen states to live and work in a town where there was 1 woman for every 4 men.

These women were an integral part of Telluride's economy in the early days. Until the temperance movement targeted prostitution, residents of Telluride did not pay any local taxes. Each madam was simply charged $150 at the beginning of each week. This money kept the town running (profitably!). The women worked out of "Female Boarding Houses" and/or "Cribs," which were mostly found on the south side of town. Some of the larger homes, like the Senate, also contained bars.

"Popcorn Alley Cribs"
Prostitution as an enterprise, started it's decline in Telluride on April 4 1902, when the town government restricted the areas where houses for prostitution could be. The legal zone was defined as the area south of the alley between Pacific and Colorado avenues, and from Alder street on the east to the western limits of town. Prostitution was still legal, but the restrictions marked the beginning of the end.

The end of legal prostitution came from Denver in 1915, when Senate Bill 88 was passed. This bill made it possible for houses that prostitutes work in to be seized and closed for a year and eventually sold by the state. The bill passed the state senate on a vote of 26-7 and was signed into law by Governor George A. Carlson in April 1915. Several things happened as a result of this decision. The first was that city attorney, D.C. Stemen, made the point that the city council could no longer collect from madams without condoning illegal activity and having to bring a case against each one. In April 1916, a local, Al Boynton, became the first in Telluride to bring action against using Senate Bill 88.  He presented evidence that George and Lena Rock were operating 6 houses of prostitution in town. Mrs. Rock turned on her competitors and gave evidence against Lena Taifni, Pete Silva, T.B. McMahon, B. Perino, and Matt Mattivi. Their establishments were closed under state law. The town council's attitude shifted towards the business with their inability to gain usable revenue from it. The prostitution that continued in the town was underground and untaxed from 1916 until the district disappeared.

See and hear more about Telluride's Red Light District in the new Telluride at Leisure exhibit, opening December 3rd.

Tierney Dickinson
Summer Intern
Telluride Historical Museum
telluridemuseum.org
_________________________________________________

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Electrifying Truth

Would you know how to create electricity using something like this? Honestly, when I first arrived at the museum, I thought it was a modern art piece. This armature core (about 93" x 48") sits behind the museum as a part of our outdoor mining exhibit, but I have heard countless visitors return inside just to ask how this giant actually works.

The principle for the armature was first developed by English scientist, Michael Faraday, when he made the discovery that if a loop of wire is moved up and down between the two poles of a magnet, a current of electricity moves through the wire. His discovery was improved upon to create something that would produce electric currents. The early AC transformer in the museum's outdoor exhibit works on a modified version of this early discovery. These types of generators produced a large amount of amperage (how quickly the electricity is moving) at a relatively low voltage (how much potential electricity there is).

An armature is made up of a coil of copper wire wound around an iron or steel core. The core is what remains outside the museum. This entire piece is placed in a magnetic field, which is produced by one or more permanent magnets. The armature is then rotated in the field by an outside force, which causes the coil to cut the lines of the magnetic field, just like in Faraday's early experiment. This action creates an alternating current of electricity within the coil.

The next step in this process is finding a way to harness the electricity generated from this process. Wire cannot be directly attached to the coil, because the constant spinning would cause them to wear and break. The solution was the addition of metal brushes, which are placed at the top and bottom of the armature so that the coil spins between them. The diagram below shows how electricity exits through the top brush to light the bulb that is wired to it, and the circuit is completed with the second wire and the bottom brush. Through this brush system, the electricity is harnessed, and ready to use!

Diagram of an AC generator.
Gibson page 195. 

These types of electricity generating devices are most often used in large scale industrial operations, because they are able to produce a large amount of electricity. This type of generator utilizes the armature as a movable core, which maintains an unvarying voltage and prevents electricity from surging and lights from flickering.

Now, when I walk past the core, I not only know that it is not a piece of modern art, but I am more aware of how it works to produce electricity. I hope that this research is useful to our visitors, who want to know a little bit more about this artifact and how it works.




Tierney Dickinson
Summer Intern
Telluride Historical Museum
telluridemuseum.org
_________________________________________________
Charles R. Gibson, The Romance of Modern Electricity: Describing in non-Technical Language What is Known About Electricity and Many of its Interesting Applications, (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company , 1906 ) http://books.google.com/books?id=p_sHAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=The Romance of Modern Electricity&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Cvr_UfnFOpKCyAGHo4HIBg&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAA




Monday, March 4, 2013

Dynamic Dyes of Telluride


This cave is near the original cave the Turner's stumbled upon.

It was an average day in 1896 for Mel Turner and his nephew Ed. As they herded stray cattle, meandering through the mesas of Southern Colorado, something on a nearby hill caught their eye. As they grew closer they spied a large cave and the two eagerly scrambled up the hillside to investigate.

Partially buried in the floor of the cave the Turner’s discovered an earthen vessel containing beads, a bone awl, a 16 foot long string of glass beads, and a square textile in nearly perfect condition. Little did Mel and Ed realize that they had stumbled upon what would become one of Colorado’s most prized and priceless artifacts: the Telluride Blanket.

The blanket was woven on a loom with what is called a twill weave. Twill weaves are used today to create denim, and seeing as it is a sophisticated and difficult weave to master, the Anasazi weaver was likely an expert at his craft. The blanket was probably made by a man, as ancient Puebloans traditionally delegated weaving to their men, and it likely served as a “wearing blanket,” or a multi-purpose blanket that provided warmth, helped with heavy loads, cushioned seating, or swaddled infants.

Dated at over 800 years old, the Telluride Blanket has surpassed the typical lifespan of similar textiles by nearly 700 years. According to textile expert Kate Peck Kent, “No other complete specimen exists. There are only two other patterned prehistoric blankets that match this when it comes to its undamaged state.”

Many mysteries still surround the blanket and its history. Where was the blanket made? What was the story of its maker? Where was the cotton harvested for its delicate threads? And what dyes were used to create its vibrant pattern?

The Telluride Historical Museum is excited to host a new program, Cool Colors with Dynamic Dyes on Tuesday, March 5 at 3:30pm. Delve deeper into the history of the blanket, its wild journey to the Museum, and how it has been preserved over time. We will unravel possible sources for the blanket’s rich color and then try our hand at dying our own textile. While all are welcome, this program is best suited for children grades 1-4. Hope to see you there!

Anne Gerhard
Programs and Interpretation Coordinator
Telluride Historical Museum


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gentlemanly Pastimes

A gentleman always knows the rules of proper behavior. His appearance is flawless, refined, and never eccentric. His manners exceed expectations, and his moral code is chivalric. He is perfectly bred. From the 1850s on, the etiquette market was inundated with books, pamphlets and manuals defining how to measure up socially as a gentile lady or refined gentleman. After training in manners, morals and decorum, the Victorian gentleman was also encouraged to take up hobby. Not only for entertainment, a gentleman’s pastime developed character, civility, and confidence. 

The Rules of Etiquette and Home Culture 1886 read"It is the duty of a gentleman to know how to ride, to shoot, to fence, to box, to swim, to row and to dance."
With the population of Telluride near 5,000 at the height of the gold rush in the 1890s, the men of Telluride undoubtedly had a vast choice of character building hobbies. Seemingly, the most popular was a civil game of poker at one of the many saloons or parlor houses, but the Victorian era was also when baseball first saw developments towards the All American game we know today.
  
Catcher's Mitt, THM Collection
The first set of rules were laid down in 1845 by Alexander Cartwright, founder of New York City’s Knickerbockers club - one of the first organized baseball teams to play under a set of rules. Marked by the spirit of gentlemanly sportsmanship, baseball soon became known as the "gentleman's game." The strategy of the era was base hits, stolen bases, and hit and run plays. The home run? That was considered so boring it was worthy of rotten tomatoes being pitched at the hitter. It wasn’t until Babe Ruth made the home run a famous achievement of strength in baseball that a "hit out of the park" was celebrated.
 
Telluride Team, Western Slope Champions 1913

Telluride has a long standing tradition of baseball. In 1913, the Telluride Baseball Team became the Western Slope Champions and in 1964 the team won state. During baseball season town park fills with teams cheering, yelling, heckling, winning and losing. Baseball camaraderie gives a sense of community and sportsmanship. The gentleman's game has now also become a ladies game, and the sidelined fans patiently await the home runs.


~ Cameo
Exhibits Curator
Telluride Historical Museum



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fair Audrie of Telluride


"Audrie" by Jim Shane
On loan from Kim Sheek

The story of this iconic portrait begins with a wayward drifter, James Shane. Struck by gold fever, he stumbled into Telluride in the 1890s looking to secure a ‘grubstake’ (prospecting supplies or a money advance in return for a promised share of profits). Not a soul would lend to him though, for they had already judged his character by his well-groomed hands. Jim turned to the piano instead, playing in the red light district at parlor houses and saloons for small wages and a warm bed.

Audrie Shane c. 1900
Courtesy of Robert Wilson
Jim sometimes spent weeks at a house. The ladies cared for him, fed him, and were entertained by his music. After a fortnight of entertaining at the Pacific Avenue house in Popcorn Alley, word spread that he was also an artist. One lady of the night in particular, Audrie Fort, took special interest in his artistic ability and proposed an attractive business deal: if Mr. Shane would paint a portrait of her, he could sell it to a local establishment, giving him enough money for prospecting. In return, the portrait would serve as advertisement for Audrie hanging in a proper establishment about town.

During the course of completing the painting, Audrie Fort and Jim Shane fell in love. He sold the painting, went prospecting, struck gold, and married Audrie. With a successful business of buying and selling profitable claims, they built a respectable life together in Telluride until 1936. It was a true love story.


Jim, Audrie and daughter Nina, at their Telluride home, 1896
Photo courtesy of Robert Wilson
The painting was displayed in about every saloon in Telluride including the Diamond, the Roma, the Beer Garden and eventually in a private gambling room above Frank Wilson's drugstore, the Busy Corner Pharmacy. Audrie had been around town, but when the Colorado attorney general cracked down on private gambling, the club closed and she was left abandoned. 

Over the next 20 years, Audrie endured the filth and grime of time. She was headed for the dumpster when Robert Wilson saved her. He cleaned her up and hung her downstairs in the Busy Corner Pharmacy. There Audrie hung until the business closed in 1968. The portrait was then loaned to the Sheridan where, after some unfortunate damage, she required professional conservation. Robert had gifted the portrait to his daughter, Kim Sheek, who gave the portrait new life at the Rocky Mountain Conservation Center in Denver.

We continue to learn more about the story behind this iconic portrait. Audrie's name, for example, was long known in Telluride to be spelled "Audrey Ford." After meeting with two of Audrie's grandchildren, Robert Wilson learned the correct spelling was in fact "Audrie Fort."

Audrie can be seen up close and personal at the Telluride Historical Museum in all her colorful, lady of the night glory.

Shine on Audrie! Shine on...

~ Cameo Hoyle
Exhibits Manager
Telluride Historical Museum
telluridemuseum.org