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Data Set ID:
G02175

Good Days on the Trail, 1938-1942: Film Footage of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Version 1

This silent film documents student hiking trips conducted by the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Rocky
Mountains, Colorado, USA during the summers of 1938-1942. The hikes took place in various locations
west of Boulder, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness, and Roosevelt National Forest. The film contains rare historical footage of the Rocky Mountains, including Arapaho Glacier and
Fair Glacier.

Geographic Coverage

Parameter(s):
  • Glaciers/Ice Sheets > Glaciers
Spatial Coverage:
  • N: 40.54, S: 40, E: -105.5, W: -105.9

Spatial Resolution: Not Specified
Temporal Coverage:
  • 1 January 1938 to 31 December 1942
Temporal Resolution: Not specified
Data Format(s):
  • MPEG
Platform(s) GROUND-BASED OBSERVATIONS
Sensor(s): CAMERAS
Version: V1
Data Contributor(s): Allaina Howard
Data Citation

As a condition of using these data, you must cite the use of this data set using the following citation. For more information, see our Use and Copyright Web page.

National Snow and Ice Data Center. 2007. Good Days on the Trail, 1938-1942: Film Footage of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Version 1. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NSIDC: National Snow and Ice Data Center. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7265/N5HT2M7Z. [Date Accessed].

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Background Information

The film provides a unique record of what the Rocky Mountain area looked like in the late 1930s and early 1940s and may provide visual information on the extent of the glaciers in the region. The film was created by the University of Colorado Department of Mountain Recreation. The original film consists of four reels, in 16mm Kodachrome format. The film was restored and digitized with support from the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder, and the NOAA Climate Database Modernization Program. The film is available for download from FTP and is 1.2 GB in size. However, a limited number of digitized copies of the film are available on DVD, while supplies last. To order a copy, complete the order form.

Evidence suggests that this film was created by the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) Department of Mountain Recreation (DMR) between 1938 and 1942 to promote the University and its summer program. The film contains rare historical footage of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, west of Boulder, including several glaciers. The film provides a unique record of what those areas looked like at that time, including the extent of the glaciers. The film was discovered in 2006 in the University archives, and restored with support from the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder and the NOAA Climate Database Modernization Program. Unfortunately, Reel One is missing from the four-reel film.

The DMR was not part of the CU Hiking Club, the regular school catalog, or the Extension Center, but was actually a prominent part of the CU Summer Session. The Summer Session featured visiting professors from around the world, a Writer's Conference, and many speakers and luminaries. Although the DMR was part of the University, it received its backing largely from the Colorado Mountain Club. The Department of Mountain Recreation was a selling point of CU's summer offerings, and carried a catalogue of its own before World War II interrupted its activities. The DMR was originally started by the Boulder Chapter of the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC); the CMC was founded in Denver 1912, and is still in existence. 

Details on the creation of the film are limited. It is believed to be the work of Prof. A. Gayle Waldrop, who served as director of the DMR during this period. A 29 September 1929 copy of the Colorado Mountain Club magazine, Trail and Timberline, makes clear Mr. Waldrop's keen involvement in CU's eventual Department of Mountain Recreation. Later, he became its official director. Waldrop's "Boulder Notes" article in this issue of the magazine offers the "Good Days on the Trail" line and indicates the source for the line as Hamlin Garland's poem, "A Daughter of the Middle Border." Additionally, the summer 1937 "Mountain Recreation" supplement to the University of Colorado Bulletin includes a photo captioned, "Recreation Director Takes Movies," showing Waldrop working with a movie camera on tripod. A copy of this bulletin is available from NSIDC; see "References and Related Resources," below.

The film is mentioned again in University archives; on page 19 of the University of Colorado Bulletin, Summer Quarter, 1946, there is a reference to the film:

"Courses" in Mountain Recreation which were necessarily discontinued during the war due to rationing and manpower shortages will again be offered by the University during the Summer Quarter, through its Department of Mountain Recreation.

A wide variety of "courses" is planned so that there may be something for everyone. Open to all in the Mary Rippon Theater at 8:00 p.m. each Monday is a series of lectures with color motion pictures or slides on Colorado wild flowers, wild animals, birds, and geology, by authorities in these fields.   On June 14 and 15, "Good Days on the Trail," an edition of the best pictures made on Mountain Recreation trips taken during the period 1938 to 1942, will be shown, to give all a fore-taste of what the summer can hold for them. 

Detailed Data Description

Geographical Coverage

The footage was filmed in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA, in an area west of Boulder, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness, and Roosevelt National Forest. The geographic area covered in the film footage is approximately as follows:

Southernmost latitude: 40.00° N
Northernmost latitude: 40.54° N
Easternmost longitude: 105.50° W
Westernmost longitude: 105.90° W

These locations are referred to in the film narrative (see "References and Related Publications" below). The date and the author of the narrative are unknown; it was with the film when it was discovered in 2006. Note, Reel One is missing, so all of the locations mentioned in the narrative may not be visible in the restored film.

Type of geographical feature

Place Names

Mountain peaks

Apache Peak
Lone Eagle Peak
Longs Peak
McHenrys Peak
Mount Audubon
Mount Chapin
Mount Chiquita
Mount Meeker
Mount Toll
Navajo Peak
North Arapaho Peak
Old Baldy
South Arapaho Peak
South Peak
Sundance Mountain
Twin Sisters Peaks
Ypsilon Peak

Other geographical features

Continental Divide
Fall River Pass
Fourth of July Valley
Glacier Gorge
Indian Peaks
Mummy Range
Rocky Mountain National Park

Lakes, rivers, streams

Alberta Falls
Chasm Lake
Crater Lake
Devil’s Thumb Lake
Fall River
Isabelle Lake
Lake Dorothy
Red Rock Lake
Silver Lake

Glaciers

Arapaho Glacier
Fair Glacier

Man-made features

Audubon Trail
Rocky Mountain National Park
Trail Ridge Road
University Camp

Background color on
Film Format

The original silent film is on four reels and was made in 16mm Kodachrome format. The first reel of the film is missing. Please contact NSIDC User Services if you know of its location. The film was originally digitized in Beta SP format, on DVD media. An MP4 version has since been created and is available for download from FTP. There is a narrative that accompanies the film that is in PDF format: "Good Days on the Trail Narrative" (PDF, 274 KB).

Background color on

References and Related Publications

Contacts and Acknowledgments

Allaina Howard-Wallace
National Snow and Ice Data Center
CIRES, 449 UCB
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0449 USA

NSIDC User Services
National Snow and Ice Data Center
CIRES, 449 UCB
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0449  USA
phone: +1 303.492.6199
fax: +1 303.492.2468
form: Contact NSIDC User Services
e-mail: nsidc@nsidc.org

Acknowledgments: 

NSIDC would like to acknowledge David Hays of the Archives of the University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries; the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder; and the NOAA Climate Database Modernization Program for their support of and contributions to this project.

Pablo Kjolseth, CU International Film Series director, discovered the film and brought it to NSIDC's attention. The following team researched the film and contributed to its publication as a data product: Lisa Ballagh, Jane Beitler, Florence Fetterer, Terry Haran, Allaina Howard, Molly McAllister, Laura Naranjo, Stephanie Renfrow, Betsy Sheffield, Ron Weaver, all of NSIDC, and Tad Pfeffer, INSTAAR.

Document Information

Document Authors

Jane Beitler and Allaina Wallace

Document Creation Date

11 April 2007

Document Revision Date

July 2017: A. Windnagel added details about how to obtain the movie via FTP.
July 2008: A. Windnagel added details about how to obtain the DVD per A. Wallace's email.

No technical references available for this data set.
No FAQs or How Tos available for this data set.

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NSIDC User Services
Phone: 1 303 492-6199
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