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Sunday, October 27, 2013

What a Difference Fourteen Years Can Make

This postcard is a picture of “The Portals in the Canyon of the Grand River”.
As you can see, it is aptly named: A portal is an entry point into something. In this case it is a canyon along the Grand River in Garfield County in the state of Colorado.

The picture was taken by William Henry Jackson who lived from 1843 to 1942. The picture show striated rock formations in the Glenwood Canyon formed by the Grand River. In the bottom left we can see some talus from the rock formations above this point. The train tracks we see belong to the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad; it is part of their Glenwood Extension.

If you went looking for this point using the title on the postcard, you would easily either get lost or never find it. This post card was published before March 1, 1907. At that time the river was called the Grand River; today it is known as the Colorado River. Fourteen years later, on July 25, 1921 Congress passed a bill authored by Ed Taylor to rename the Grand River to the Colorado River. It didn’t rename the entire river; it simply extended the name of the Colorado River up into the state to one of the sources of the river in Grand County. You can read the actual bill here:

Because of the research I have done around this postcard I have had to rearrange my postcard collection. I have assumed that the Grand River referred to the river that goes through the Royal Gorge in Colorado – not so!

The postcard was published by Frank S. Thayer. Based in Denver, he published many books, several of which included beautiful scenery from the state of Colorado.

I can see how he might have extended the objects he published from books to postcards after looking at some of the books he published. In 1899 he published “Colorado in Color and Song” by J.W. Wright and Frank H. Mayer. He also formed a partnership with Charles Roscoe Savage a prolific photographer. In 1866, Savage photographed his 9000 mile tour of North America. Savage travelled extensively along the transcontinental railroad photographing its construction. He photographed the completion of the railroad at Promontory Point, Utah in 1869. Savage also produced scenic views of the West in cartes-de-visites form. In the 1880s, Savage formed a partnership with Frank S. Thayer, to produce a series of guidebooks to Utah.

This postcard also records a bit of history. On the back it reminds us that prior to March 1, 1907 only the address could be written on the back of a picture postcard. Then congress passed a bill that said that after March 1, 1907 the right side of a postcard back was to contain the address while the left side could hold a message from the sender to the receiver.

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.