COLORADO’S SLAVES OF THE SILVER SERPENT, 1895 – 1901

DENVER, COLORADO’S MOUNTAIN AND PLAIN FESTIVAL

 

 

 

 Just what was all this pagan-like activity about?  Board of Directors included: David H. Moffat, Wolfe Londoner, Robert W. Speer, Frank A. Joslin, C. Mac A. Willcox, J. M. Kuykendall, Rodney Curtis, S. K. Hooper, B. L. Winchell, Earl B. Coe, William N. Byers and others.  Certainly, a conservative bunch, some of which who were the early business motivators of Denver.  Byers, who came to Denver on April 17, 1859, founded the Rocky Mountain News and served as president of the Board in 1897.  

 

 

 

The Silver Serpent of the Denver, Colorado Mountain and Plain’s Festival, dated 1899.  Original brass casting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLAVES OF THE SILVER SERPENT, Denver, Colorado, 1899.

 

“The Festival of Mountain and Plain was inspired by the magnificent harvest of 1895.  It was felt that some expression of thankfulness should be made.  A brief note from the Chamber of Commerce brought a few together in response, who were firm in promoting the idea of a Carnival.  The chairman was directed to select a Committee of Fifteen, to whom to submit the entire matter, with authority to decide.  The meeting was called and but two or three failed to attend.”  1897 Programme, “History.”

The festival concept had some similarities to Colorado Springs’ Flower Carnival Festival, which began in 1893.

 

 

 

Head of the dragon. Slaves of the Silver Serpent. 1899.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The nature of the celebration, the short space of time, the scarcity of money, were all serious subjects for discussion.  Although not satisfied that the movement would materialize, it was deemed wise to announce to the public that a Carnival or Festival would be held, and a general meeting was called to meet at the Brown Palace Hotel, to listen to a plan of entertainment.”  1897 Programme

 

Note: children as “slaves” to the silver serpent, which, of course, was the colloquialism for Colorado’s silver mining industry.  Of course.

 

 

 

 

Profile of the Silver Serpent. Charming fellow. Denver, Colorado, 1899.  Dimensions:  4-3/4 inches in height; 5-1/2 inches in diameter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It was realized from the beginning that the success of the Festival would depend upon the attitude of the railway companies whose lines centered in Denver.  Unless they would so reduce rates as practically to forgo all profit it would be useless to go ahead.  They must also undertake to bring all exhibits from all points without costs.  The response was most generous; the railways were almost free.”  1897 Programme

 

Colorado’s agricultural community thrashing out a bit of satire at Colorado’s dominant silver mining industry, 1899.

 

 

 

 

Slaves of the Silver Serpent tray, 1897. Ornate, gothic, art-nouveau-like, 1897.  Tray dimensions: 9 inches by 6 inches.

 First Festival day was October 16, 1895 and it was introduced with a “Pageant of Progress.”  First Festival closed with a “Night of Glory,” when the Slaves of the Silver Serpent claimed the gaze of a vast multitude with the refined richness and luxury of their illuminated parade.  “Out of the Festival grew the secret organization, The Slaves of the Silver Serpent … They are entirely independent of the Festival Association.  What they intend to do is a profound secret, even to the Board of Direction ….”

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few of the decorative ribbons issued by the Mountain & Plain Festival.

 

 

Do you find the history of Denver’s MOUNTAIN AND PLAIN FESTIVAL intriguing?  Then contact us and let us know what you know.  We look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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