Monday, November 10, 2008

Walker's Cosmopolitan Interests

Here in the foothills of Jefferson County, historians have been captivated by John Brisben Walker for decades. He was handsome, chronically but not consistently wealthy, and possessed by a genius for innovation and promotion at which others could stand and marvel. His schemes sometimes sounded crazy, other times more practical, but none could deny his appeal.

In 1905-06 Walker took renewed interest in the Morrison area. He remembered the small, scenic foothills town from the 1880s, when his two oldest sons attended Sacred Heart College here. A story of his connection to Morrison and the nearby Park of the Red Rocks is told on the Historic Red Rocks website.

Dabbling in new research related to the man has revealed more about his years as Editor of Cosmopolitan magazine between 1889 and 1905. Not satisfied, apparently, with mere editing, he also tried his hand at writing the articles he wanted to publish. The Cosmopolitan: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine was, of course, a very different publication than the one we know today. Walker delighted in publishing articles on current events (such as the Silver Crisis of 1893), travel, and modern inventions, especially those displayed at the Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. We hope to bring you some of his articles this year.

In 1905, Walker sold the magazine to William Randolph Hearst for a fortune said to be $400,000 or more. That was the source of funds he later used to acquire Red Rocks and other properties in the Morrison area and promote his vision of a mecca for the tourist and a "second Colorado Springs" close to Denver.

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