COBWEB CORNERS: The strange postcard

By Mel McFarland

       I found a Pike's Peak postcard years ago that I could not quite believe. I even used it in a program I did on the Cog railway at the History Center. It was very strange indeed.
       Even from the earliest days there were photographers selling pictures of our mountain wonders. When postcards came in, they became the format most could afford, Even today postcards are quite popular, and interesting subjects can be found. There was a format that I suppose started in the '30s, because I have not found any from the '20s, where you could have your picture taken for your own cards. There were shops along Manitou Avenue that were just a few feet deep, and the buildings are still there. As late as the 1950s these buildings had just enough room for stuffed animals, such as bears, deer, elk, Brahma bulls and burros. The idea was to have your picture taken on one of these and have it come out as a postcard. I still have a couple of those that were taken of myself, as a child.
       The strange postcard had a scene of an airplane flying over the summit of Pike's Peak, a very early airplane at that. Close examination of the picture showed that it didn't even have an engine! I recently solved part of the mystery. I found a 1911 ad for a photographer on Ruxton who had an aeroplane with several different scenes you could appear to be flying over! Pike's Peak and the Garden of the Gods were available choices. His shop was one block up from the Loop, and there are a couple of likely buildings where it could have been. Other than this one ad, I have been unable to locate information about the photographer. He must have moved on after a while. I have seen a couple other Pike's Peak postcards that he produced. His name was Van Lackum, and so far I have not located more than the ad and these few cards.
       The stuffed animals seem to have gone away by the late '50s. One person remembers seeing the derelict items behind a building in the '60s. Manitou school kids on their way home liked using these paths behind the buildings. A stuffed buffalo would certainly make coming home from school an interesting event!