It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other...The idea was to invoke a blessing on those saying goodbye to Denver and a hope of a return.
History of the arch itself is not very plentiful, but Denver's Railroads by Forrest and Albi has a small section from which a lot of this post is based. The arch had a double tracked Denver Tramway line passing through it from the outset. When the second terminal building was obliterated in September 1914 to make room for the current structure, the track was apparently re-routed to the west. The entire arch was supposed to be removed with construction of the center terminal, but it stayed on for 15 more years, and in the 20s was lit with electric lights in keeping with the times.
During its brief existence, the arch was not above being used for commercial use. Of note, the Struby-Estabrook Mercantile Company, before national--let alone international--grocery chains, used the Welcome Arch as a trademark for its line of products. Everything from macaroni to coffee and tea to oats and canned goods rolled out the doors of the mercantile stores with a likeness of the arch on it.
Alas, by 1929, the arch was showing its age. It had not been well maintained, and with the stock market crash that October and the ensuing Great Depression, an overhaul was not in the cards. Charles D. Vail (of Vail Pass), working for the city at the time, wrote that the arch would have to be completely rebuilt if it were to stay in the same spot, and as Vail had seen the future of Colorado in the automobile, the arch was cited as a traffic hazard and a blight on the station. The arch was removed at the city's expense on December 6, 1931.
It has not been completely forgotten, either. I remember my friend Ira, a New Yorker and proud Jew pointing to signs in a newly revitalized LoDo after a Colorado Rockies game emblazoned with Mizpah as a nod to the arch 70 years after its passing. It's a good memory of a friend now long past.⚒
I have always enjoyed articles on the Welcome Arch. Mayor Speer was truly a visionary with his City Beautiful for Denver. I didn't know Charles Vail was involved in the evaluation of the arch integrity. We raised our family in Vail and knew of Charles Vail, the highway engineer and director of the Colorado State Highway Department from 1930 to 1945 for whom the pass is named.ReplyDelete