COBWEB CORNERS: Anybody seen a Hiestand postcard?
By Mel McFarland
Earlier this year, I gave a program at the History Center called “Pike's Peak by Postcard.” I may have missed a good card. I recently ran into a story about a famous postcard of the mountain. A newspaper from 1908 reported that a regional photographer by the name of Heistand was one of the original manufacturers of postcards.
We do know he was here, and that postcards originated in the 1890s in Germany. Heistand, along with Hook, was a prominent Manitou photographer. Hook lived up Engelmann Canyon at Artist Glen, before the railroad was built. He sold photographs to the passing hikers. Further up the canyon, the hikers often stopped at the Palsgrove house, which became Halfway House, a popular hotel until 1915.
Photographs that were common were on a hard cardboard, and generally about 5 by 8 inches, but there were larger and smaller ones. The idea of a picture about envelope size was popular, but the Postal Service would not accept them until after 1902. Then, to make it clear what the address was, the Postal Service did not allow any other writing on that side. Messages could only be on the picture side. A few years later, the Postal Service decided that a designated area for a message would be all right. That format has continued up to the present.
The story says that Heistand had postcards made of the mountain in the 1890s, before the post office accepted them as mail by themselves. Indeed I have seen cards of the summit dating from 1892 to 1893, but most were created after the turn of the century. The most common scenes are what are called studio cards or stereo views. Many of these are by Hook.
Heistand became the self appointed official photographer for the cog railroad after 1900. He even helped finance the expansion of the summit house, as well as the addition of an observation tower that stood until the late 1950s. He also built what is now the Iron Springs Chateau. He had a little shop down on Ruxton at Indian Head Rock, under the Colorado Midland bridge over Ruxton. In 1909 part of a train came off the bridge and destroyed this little shop! As for postcards, if Heistand actually was one of the first, I would be happy to know what card it was.