Colorado's Chautauqua Park
In the late 1890s, the Texas Board of Regents determined to establish a summer school for teachers in a cool climate. The Chautauqua Movement was a powerful cultural force in the United States at the time, and so the regents surmised that the best way to obtain a favorable location for their summer school would be to partner with a railroad company, package the school with a Chautauqua, and barter with a Colorado town for a site. Boulder city leaders wooed the Texans by offering to supply land, facilities and public utilities for the assembly. The site for what originally was called the Texas-Colorado Chautauqua was expressly chosen for its spectacular mountain setting and its health-giving environment. The park continues to be home to many lectures and other cultural and educational events.
Backstory and Context
In 1897, the Texas-Colorado Chautauqua Association was created in order to give Texas schoolteachers a chance to conduct a summer school and lecture series, but held in Colorado because of Texas's harsh summers. The Chautauqua was placed in Boulder, Colorado because of the city's agreement to provide the necessary land and equipment. The Chautauqua and it's Dining Hall were both completed by the time of the opening of the first Chautauqua season on July 4, 1989. The fee was $75 in 1898 for the entire six-week season. Included was tuition, admission to all lectures and entertainments, all boarding and lodging, and round-trip rail fare to Boulder from Fort Worth, or around Fort Worth, Texas.
In late April 1899 the Electric Street Railway from Boulder to Texado Park construction began and was completed in June of 1899, only about a week before the opening of the second Colorado Chautauqua season. Cars ran every 15 minutes from 6:30 am to 11:00 pm, and the fare was only 5 cents. Between 30 and 40 cottages were available for lodging during the second Chautauqua season, everyone else still resided in tents. People continued to stay in tents until 1916, even though cottages continued to be built. The Women's Christian Temperance Union was involved in the Chautauqua in 1900, along with many other similar ideas because of the prohibitionist cause that was an ongoing theme. Women's suffrage, Populist politics, and a nondenominational Christian message on self-improvement were other related causes.
What was Chautauqua? University of Iowa Libraries.
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Gentile, John S (1989): Cast of One: One-Person Shows from the Chautauqua Platform to the Broadway Stage. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press.
Gould, Joseph Edward (1961): "The Chautauqua Movement". Albany, New York. State University of New York Press.
Pettem, Silvia (1998): Chautauqua Centennial, a Hundred Years of Programs. http://www.silviapettem.com/books.html
Rieser, Andrew (2003): The Chautauqua Moment: Protestants, Progressives, and the Culture of Modern Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.
Strother, French (September 1912). "The Great American Forum: Chautauqua and the Chautauquas in Summer and the Lyceum In Winter". The World's Work: A History of Our Time. XXIV: 551–564.