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A Flagpole both Venerated and Dangerous

black and white image downtown Golden, looking south from 11th and Washington. Tall pole without flag at 12th & Washington
The flagpole at 12th and Washington

90 Years Ago

The April 12, 1934 Colorado Transcript featured pleas by several local “Patriotic Organizations” to replace the flagpole at 12th and Washington. The flagpole had been knocked down during a violent March windstorm.

Early on the morning of March 5, a gust of wind blew off the roof of the Everett building (now Goozell Yogurt). The roof slammed into the bank building across the street (now Golden Goods), breaking the plate glass windows. It also broke the wire that powered the trolley cars and pushed over the flag pole. The metal roofing landed on the trolley wire, which was carrying 600 volts, and caused repeated flashes of bright light. People in the residential districts thought downtown was on fire.

Streetcar turning east off Washington onto 13th Street.
This picture shows the overhead wires that powered the trolley cars. The flagpole is not visible, so the photo was taken either before 1925 or after 1934.

The flagpole had been in the center of that intersection since 1925 and in 9 years it had become a cherished landmark. Schools gave band concerts while gathered around the flag, and the American Legion liked to host flag-raising ceremonies at that spot. In December, the Fire Department set up a community Christmas tree at the base of the pole, and the community gathered there to sing carols.

Traffic had increased greatly between 1925 and 1934, and some thought that the flagpole in the intersection increased safety by forcing people to slow down. Others saw it as a hazard to navigation. (Does this sound like a traffic calming debate?)

The Mayor announced that he had “no regrets” about the loss of the flagpole, since he had always worried that it would blow down, but the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Daughters of the American Revolution, and American Red Cross were campaigning to get it back.

Their will prevailed, and the flagpole was repaired. It remained in the center of the intersection for three more years. In 1937, it “mysteriously” (according to the Transcript) was removed. Apparently, Mayor Jones got his way in the end.

Thanks to the Golden History Museum for providing the online cache of historic Transcripts and to the Golden Transcript for documenting our history since 1866.