Author: julia

The Edmund Couch Ski Collection

It finally looks and feels like winter in the high country, a welcome change for Douglas County skiers and snowboarders. And with the Winter Olympics kicking off next month, we’re in a snowsports kind of mood—perfect for taking a closer look at Archives & Local History’s Edmund Couch Ski Collection.

The Edmund Couch Ski Collection, 2000.018, contains archival materials dating from 1949 to 1979, documenting Couch’s ski jump designs, International Ski Week events, and his tenure at the Colorado Ski Museum, plus early professional books and journals about the ski industry.

Who Is Edmund Couch?

Edmund Couch is noted in the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame for his athletics, but his impact on the world of snowsports was much vaster than that. After a broken leg ended his ski jumping career in 1937, Couch joined the Army Corps of Engineers and designed ski jumps and slopes across North America. He also served as a judge for the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS), was involved in work with both Colorado State Ski Hall of Fame and National Ski Hall of Fame, and eventually served as Board President of Vail’s Colorado Ski Museum (now the Colorado Snowsports Museum).

Edmund Couch, Jr. was born in 1906 in Philadelphia, then moved to Colorado around 1915 after his father became a Pikes Peak National Forest ranger. He attended the Sedalia school in 1921 and 1922, going by “Ned,” then graduated from Douglas County High School and attended the University of Denver, where he competed on the ski team for two years. He moved on to the University of Wisconsin to compete on the National Ski Association’s Central Division, and won the Western Ski Association’s Class B Championship in 1929.

After his leg injury, Couch served in the Army Corps of Engineers from 1941 to 1948. When his service officially ended, he continued a career with the Army Corps until 1971. During these years, Couch designed about 150 ski jumps in states across the country, including Virginia, West Virginia, California, Michigan, and Colorado. He also traveled the world as a judge for the FIS.

An Olympic Fumble

In 1968 Couch was selected as the Chief Ski Jump Designer for the proposed 1976 Denver Winter Olympics—but they never happened in Denver! After a series of major blunders by the Denver Olympic Organizing Committee, Denver voters stopped funding them and Innsbruck, Austria, took over as host city. (Read more about that debacle here.) But Couch got a second chance to make his mark on the Olympics when he worked as a consultant for the 1974 redesign of the slopes at Howelsen Hill, Steamboat Springs’ internationally renowned snowsports complex and popular Olympian training ground.

Advocating & Educating

Couch stayed busy in his retirement. He moved to Sedalia and married his fourth wife, Douglas County’s Esme Harcourt Williams. In the late 1970s, Couch became involved with the creation of Vail’s Colorado Ski Museum. He helped designate February as Colorado Ski History month while he was board president. The museum sponsored events throughout the state’s ski towns and continues to share the history of Colorado winter sports as the Colorado Snowsports Museum.

 

2021 Year in Review

This year was busy for Archives & Local History (ALH). Read on to learn about some of our biggest projects and accomplishments in 2021.

The Metzler Estate Collection

Alyssa worked to secure 48 boxes of historical materials from the estate of siblings Bob and Rosemary Metzler. The Metzler family were prominent in Douglas County history. Both siblings left a legacy in public education, but their records also document cattle ranching, dairying, agricultural industry, suburbanization and growth, property history, community organizations, and local creative figures. These records will be available for public use.

Sixty acres at the Metzler Ranch are now being preserved by the Douglas Land Conservancy and the Town of Castle Rock. Eleven acres will be open space, including trails.

Vault Inventory

Joan completed an inventory of the vault, reaching our goal of reviewing 560 accessions in the archives. Since 2019, ALH staff have confirmed the contents of hundreds of boxes, updated records, and improved descriptions.

Some of the boxes were heavier than expected, like the one that contained pieces of a steel railway found at the Madge Quarry site. Some were surprising, such as the reproductions of plans to build the world’s tallest building in Larkspur. First proposed in 1964, the World Science Center—complete with amusement park, restaurant, and convention center—never got off the ground.

Other materials filled gaps in Douglas County’s historical record, like the abstracts of title going back to 1872 that document the complete ownership history of some Douglas County properties. Other accessions, like our magic lantern glass slides, were simply beautiful.

We are proud to be the stewards of all the irreplaceable materials contained in those 560 accessions, and are glad our review makes them more accessible to the public.

Veterans History Project

Julia worked to compile, process and send Veterans History Project oral history interviews to the Library of Congress, preserving 12 interviews that document the military experiences of Douglas County residents. These interviews are available through our digital collections and in our reading room at the Castle Rock – Philip S. Miller library.

Online, you can read transcripts or listen to audio from local veterans, plus view photographs and documents. Sending copies of these interviews to the Library of Congress American Folklife Center ensures that they will be available to a much wider audience.

Archives & Local History is proud to be a trusted repository for the history of Douglas County. We hope to have another productive year in 2022.

Hut, Hut, Hike! Youth Sports in Douglas County

It’s football season in Douglas County! Archives & Local History’s newest reading room display exhibits some of our materials on youth sports from the early 1960s through 1990. You can also learn about local youth sports here.

Do you have a local sports collection you’d like to donate? ALH is looking for papers, photographs, records, minutes, diaries, ephemera (like posters and brochures), audiovisual materials (videos, recordings), and more. We’d love to chat with you. Contact Local History.

The Arapahoe Youth League

The Arapahoe Youth League has been around since at least the early 1970s. ALH’s Arapahoe Youth League (AYL) materials (2001.060) contain records, playbook diagrams, ephemera (posters, stickers, brochures), correspondence, and photographs. Coach Mark Lee oversaw Douglas County’s AYL football and baseball teams, both called the Dolphins. Today, the AYL football team is called the Raptors.

Flaunt It While You’ve Got It!

The 1980 sports uniform catalog Southern Athletic/Bike advertised these interesting outfits for football practice. Many people in the 1970s cast off traditionally modest clothing in favor of flaunting it! Due to the soaring popularity of fitness through the ’80s, short-shorts and crop tops found themselves a staple of mainstream fashion—for both men and women. The crop top is said to have been inspired by football jerseys ripped on the field. What do you think? Should we bring the look back?

 

Safeteeth Firthst

Even though dental injuries accounted for about half of sports injuries in the 1940s, it wasn’t until 1962 that mouth guards were made mandatory for high school football players. “Boil and bite” mouth guards can be easily fitted to an individual player’s teeth. This one belonged to the Arapahoe Youth League, though it appears not to have been used.

Image shows a white boil and bite mouth guard.
Boil and bite mouth guard, 2001.060, Arapahoe Youth League materials.

 

Understanding Concussions

Jake Snakenberg, 1990-2004

Karen McAvoy, Director of the Center for Concussion at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, was a school psychologist at Grandview High School in Aurora when freshman Jake Snakenberg died of injuries sustained by multiple concussions. The incident affected McAvoy deeply and inspired her work on combatting concussions in youth sports. In honor of Jake, please take the time to review the hospital’s tips for recognizing and managing pediatric concussions.

 

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