Monday, November 15, 2004

Harry Mellon Rhoads

It was cold, wet, and windy this weekend so I spent most of it perusing the Denver Public Library photography collection. The DPL has put over 100,000 photos from both its Western History Department and from the Colorado Historical Society Collection online. It's a little overwhelming and I decide to limit my browsing to the Harry Mellon Rhoads Collection.

Harry Rhoads was a newspaper photographer whose work is spread over a time period from 1900 to his retirement in 1968. Harry's collection of 5,200 glass plates and film negatives covers everything from his family to crime, disasters, famous people, and women, lots and lots of women. Twenty-five hundred of these photos are online.

I found the aerial views fascinating. One of City Park (Rh-298) taken in the 1930's shows nothing but open land, with farms scattered here and there, north of 26th Avenue. Another shows what will become Lowry Airfield when it was the Phipps Sanatorium (Rh-4533). It is surround by miles of open plain. I found the crime photos fascinating too, but in a different way. The 1937 photo of a dead police officer (Rh-1227). A haunting one of a women jumping off a bridge (Rh-5508). I wondered why she jumped and how the photographer got so close. A photo of a man after he committed suicide by lying down on the railroad track and waiting for a train(Rh-982). That one you will have to find for yourself.

There is a photo of Cherry Creek at 7th Avenue and Broadway (Rh-418) during the 1933 flood showing a wave cresting at least five feet about the cement walls lining the creek and rushing toward the Broadway bridge. There is beautiful photo of the state capitol building taken in the winter (Rh-5824).

Some photo's give you a little Denver history, like the one titled,"Klan Member at Klan Day At The Races At Overland Park" (Rh-460). In the 1920's the Klu Klux Klan had political control of the state with the governor, the secretary of state, one member of the Supreme Court, seven judges in Denver District Court, and the majority of the members of the state House and Senate affiliated with the Klan. The fact that there could even be a Klan Day shows the power they held.

There are many more photos in the library collection and I plan to examine as many as I can. I love Denver, history, and photography. I've found my own little bit of heaven right here on the Internet.

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