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The calaboose part 2: Something baaaad happened here

Well, I know at least some of you went looking for the calaboose (see original post here), because local merchants contacted me to ask about people with maps in their alleys.

I think the calaboose site is in the alley right next to LeRoy’s LockSafe Systems (326 Walnut). That’s why, in the first story, I told the unrelated story about the woman killed near LeRoy’s and the lynching that followed at the county courthouse. I was trying to creep you out.

And if you went there on Friday or Saturday, some of you encountered the extra creepiness of running into these guys from the haunted house loitering in the alley:

scary guy

When I first heard about the calaboose, it was suggested it was this white building on the right of this photo (using passive voice to avoid saying outright that I disagree with a local historian who has much more credibility than I do):

calaboose alley

But the map doesn’t back it up.  Matt from LeRoy LockSafe Systems, who got involved because he got curious about LostFortCollins readers loitering around his shop with maps, agrees:

On the map, you can clearly see a building on the “326” lot – that’s our shop. There have been a couple of additions since then, in the 1920’s and again in the 50’s, but you can still see the original stone work from the outside of the building. The square labeled calaboose is pretty clearly where there is now just an alley (near some transformers). Unfortunately it’s simply gone :(

Matt illustrates his point here on his web site: http://www.locksafesystems.com/hist.htm.

I think he’s right. It’s gone. What’s there now? This patch of asphalt and these uneasy, something-baaaad-happened-here sheep! Click the picture for a bigger view of their fluffy rainbow paranoia.



Post script

LeRoy’s has a neat history page with a picture of the old stone house, before the store fronts were added. Look:


The Sheep mural was painted by Ren Burke, and I like it a lot.  Especially in that spot.

What about the blue drunk tank?

Many people reasoned the calaboose was the blue drunk tank one block west of the calaboose site, in the same alley. I think that’s a block from the calaboose in the map, but I  hear Carol Tunner is researching its history as well. I’m looking forward to seeing her findings and will share whatever I can.


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14 comments to The calaboose part 2: Something baaaad happened here

  • Inside one of those blocks — I think the block with the old firehouse — there was a rough stone wall on a lot with some parking off the alley. The wall showed (years ago) some traces of a large, complex sign that used to be on there for the supply store. Details are getting washed out by subsequent stuff, but there were sections that showed some cattle and other pictorial elements, and some remaining writing. I keep meaning to search for the place when I’m in town, but there’s always other stuff going on for those few occasions when I get back. If anything remains, I’d sure love to see a photo of it. It would probably take several to get it all in, because of the short angle.

  • Teresa K

    We went looking and are pleased that we concluded the same thing you did, there are now sheep where the calaboose used to be. That was fun, we had a blast with the map, like treasure hunting. Do some more!

  • catfc

    Teresa, thanks for commenting. I’ve been feeling a little, erm, sheepish, the past couple days wondering if people would be upset that I sent them into those alley ways and there was nothing there. But I did it because local historians did the same thing to me. Carol Tunner has sent me her research and said “Historian X says it’s still there, but check the Sanborn map.”

  • Teresa K

    It was a beautiful fall afternoon and we needed a good walk anyway. Randy thought I was a bit nuts at first when I showed him the map, but then he got into it more than I did, insisting I take tons of pictures of an empty spot. It was probably us that alarmed the lock shop guy as we did peer into their yard and made note of the stone house that had been in your blog. We were inspired to take alleys all the way back home. Saw some cool looking lofts/apartments we never knew existed.

  • “The Sheep mural was painted by Ren Burke, and I like it a lot. Especially in that spot.”

    How did you find out who painted that? I’ve been taking pictures of the painted transformers (I think that’s what they are, right? Transformers?) for several years now in hopes of putting together a photo album of all of them. It would be nice to add artist info.

    Has someone already posted a comprehensive album somewhere? Do you know?

  • catfc

    I queried Art in Public Places, Fort Collins. http://www.fcgov.com/artspublic/. Only this year’s artists are featured. Not sure if the older artists are available.

  • nisperos

    OK, for those curious about the blue drunk tank, cat wrote about it on 5/22/09 with pictures: http://lostfortcollins.com/2009/05/22/the-blue-jailhouse/

    Now, I know she said Carol Tunner is researching it, but has anyone gone out and measured it since it’s supposed to be 20 X 20 and someone suggested that the calaboose might have been moved from its original site? (And, what is that thing made out of? I mean, yeah, it’s cement or some sort of mortar on the outside, but is it plastered over split logs or ties or is that only around the top?)

  • nisperos

    Now, the blue jail thingy looks like cement mortar to me, but what do I know? In trying to date the structure, we might want to know if it is cement all the way through. If there’s limestone mortar, even underneath the cement (assuming it’s cement on top) then maybe it would give an earlier date to the structure. Our limestone mortar was used until when? Seems like I read that it was starting to be in decline by 1918. So, if there’s only cement mortar, then it’s almost definitely not the original calaboose. If there’s limestone mortar, even layered down under cement (which could have been added on top to strengthen the structure before moving), then maybe it could be…

  • catfc

    Nisperos, with all this background, I feel like I’ll be very, very educated if I ever get to see what Carol found. She says there’s an old painting that includes the blue drunk tank, and she’s waiting to get her hands on that before she’ll call her research complete.

  • nisperos

    It’s suspenseful waiting to see what Carol comes up with, but my current amateur guess is that the blue drunk tank is the original calaboose and in your second photo on this post the “white building on the right” is the second calaboose…

  • nisperos

    BTW, I guess Loveland had a calaboose too.

  • catfc

    Your research closely mimics Carol’s. She reckoned that second story was evidence that the white building next to the sheep box was the calaboose. Later Sanborn maps do show that the original calaboose is gone. But that two story garage is still there in all the maps, and today.

    That garage was a livery stable, according to Ted Oakes, whose father owned Oakes Motor Company in the 1950s. Oakes used it as a garage. Their showroom was the building that houses the Armadillo today. I have a GREAT photo, and just need a few minutes to get it uploaded. It will be my banner photo.

    Ted Oakes died last week: http://www.bohlenderfuneralchapel.com/_mgxroot/page_10780.php?id=716060.

    And, I wasn’t going to say this publicly just yet, but I’ll say it way down here…his death may impact the vultures on Mountain Avenue. He owned that property.

  • nisperos

    Sympathies to Uncle Norm on the loss of his friend Teddy. Sorry to hear of your loss.

  • nisperos

    Yeah, thanks for reminding me about those pesky Sanborn maps. I’m back to thinking that the first calaboose is gone from its original site, maybe it moved and maybe it’s the blue drunk tank/band spot.