The Closing Era

On the east side of Colorado’s State Capitol grounds, the lithe figure of an Indian stands over the body of a bison, an image from a past era captured in bronze. 
     The sculpture was big news in 1892. The Rocky Mountain News reported the Fortnightly Club met in the basement of the First Congregational Church on the afternoon of Feb 27, 1892. Mrs. Eliza Routt called the meeting to order at 2:30 in the afternoon. The women viewed an artist’s sketch of the statue, titled The Closing Era,” which they planned to raise $10,000 to purchase. 
     Mrs. E.M. Ashley reported a proposal to substitute Chief Ouray’s face for that of the generic Indian on the statue.
     Mrs. Ashley said, “We hope to have [it] cast in best bronze, sent to the Columbian exposition as a work of art from Colorado and, after the close of the exposition, placed permanently on our capitol grounds as a gift from the women of Denver to their state…” 
          “To those present who have lately come to make Colorado their home this may seem an insignificant change, but to the many old-timers who are present, it is an important one, for Ouray, too, was an old-timer. Twenty years ago his face was as familiar on the streets of Denver as is now the face of our governor. He was connected with and is a part of the history of Colorado…”
          Apparently, the idea did not suit sculptor Preston Powers. The completed figure bears no resemblance to Ouray but it is does effectively represent pre-settlement life in what is now Colorado. 
          Thanks to Joyce Lohse, author of First Governor, First Lady: John and Eliza Routt of Colorado, for this tidbit of history.

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