It’s coming up on 100 years ago when Otto Mears, the pioneer “Pathfinder of the San Juans,” proposed an annual Columbine Day to celebrate the spectacular wildflowers which proliferated around Silverton.
“Otto Mears conceived the idea of designating the third Tuesday in July of each year as Columbine Day for Silverton and so it will hereafter be recognized, observed and celebrated,” the Silverton Standard reported in 1911.
So that means this year’s Columbine Day will fall on Tuesday, July 19.
A hundred years ago Mears donated use of his railroad to gather the flowers and ship several thousand wildflowers to Denver at the request of the Denver Chamber of Commerce
“Last Sunday a large number of citizens went up to the (Animas) Forks in a special train and returned in the evening with over 75,000 of fresh, blooming columbines and several thousands of Sweet Williams and Indian Pinks, which were shipped Monday morning to Denver,” the Standard reported on July 22, 1911.
Now a group of Silverton citizens wants to bring back the local holiday, which has long since withered.
“Judy Zimmerman and I got to talking about it and we decided to revive Columbine Day,” said Lynn Hutson.
“Give Judy the credit,” Hutson said. “She first brought up the idea to me and we immediately went for it.”
Asked if they were planning to seek an official declaration of Columbine Day from the Silverton Town Council, Hutson responded with a laugh. “Are you kidding me?”
In observance of Columbine Day, residents will be encouraged to plant the colorful wildflowers.
“We’re not going to pull up 75,000 of them and take them to Denver on a train like they did in 1911,” Hutson said.
Zimmerman has planted columbines outside the San Juan County Historical Museum.
And Hutson, who manages the museum, said she is putting together door prizes for museum visitors in recognition of Columbine Day.
And down at ZE Supply, Karla Safranski said she has a few potted columbines left for sale and she’s hoping to get more.