Looking back is worth looking forward to

History Camp at college offers reasons to anticipate event next year

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With the day ahead and 24 topics to choose from, it was hard for a still-sleepy history buff to get in gear on the morning of Nov. 2 as the 2019 History Camp Colorado kicked off at 9 a.m. at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton. About 130 people signed on for the ACC sessions, paying a modest fee that covered lunch, printing and administrative costs.

The “unconference,” which started several years ago in Boston, now has four versions in the United States. Carrie Lund, who discovered it in Boston and subsequently moved to Littleton, organized the event about four years ago, with a session at Metro State University, another at Red Rocks Community College and the most recent two at Arapahoe Community College.

History Camp presents scholars covering numerous areas of interest, who speak for about an hour on topics near and dear to them.

Sample titles: Timely — “Apollo 11’s Return to Earth (Hand Me the Manual and Let’s See How We’re Gonna Stop This Thing”; “Pioneers in the Denver Basin” by Englewood’s Doug Cohn; “Mapping Amache Internment Camp”; “The Treasures of Roxborough.”

I started the day with the Historic Littleton Inc. president, historian Gail Keeley’s account of how Denver’s sewer system developed: “The Real Yellow Brick Road,” then continued with buckskin-attired Elsa Wolff’s portrayal of “Annie Oakley, Setting the Record Straight.” (With the anniversary of women’s suffrage prominent, there were a number of woman-related, costumed presenters, who added to the general upbeat atmosphere.) I then sat in on a presentation on “Spreading the Love of History Through Games,” which showed a new game with varying levels of difficulty.

The day ended with four programs that all sounded interesting — on Roxborough, Mary Elitch; and Amache Internment Camp and “The Amazing Ivy Baldwin” by Littleton-located Dr. Jack Ballard, who has been involved with the Friends of Fort Logan support group for years.

At Fort Logan, there was a huge hangar that housed Ivy Baldwin’s balloon at one time, leading the Ballard, a retired Air Force officer and professor of history, to learn more about a somewhat peculiar character well-known in the Denver area at one time (1900-1910+).

Baldwin, a small man (about 120 pounds), ran away from home at 12 and joined a circus learning to walk a tight rope as well as balloonist skills. At 14, he made the first of many crossings of Boulder Canyon on the tightrope.

John Elitch recruited him to perform balloon ascensions at Elitch Gardens, Jack Ballard recounted. (Baldwin made a total of 87 crossings, the last on his 82nd birthday, according to a website.) He was a Signal Corps member in the Spanish-American War and as planes became more common, made a specialty of parachute jumping—from balloons and planes—performing around the world.

Who knew?! Watch for notices of the 2020 History Camp.

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