Tag Archives: ice carnival

The Ice Carnival at Leadville: 1896

leadville's ice palace 1896

The great social-amusement event of the season in the far West is the opening of the Ice Castle at Leadville. Colorado, under the auspices of the Crystal Carnival Association, and life in the Carbonate Camp is, for the months of January, February, and March, to be one continuous round of pleasure, fun and entertainment for all who have leisure.

The present season marks a new era in the camp, in its recovery from the effects of the silver slump, and in its attaining new fame as a great gold producer. It also marks a temporary departure from the intense attention to mining and money getting that has possessed the people of the camp for nearly two decades. It tends toward an appreciation of the artistic, toward indulgence in amusement for amusement’s sake, and to a too unfrequent recognition of the social side of life.

The Leadville Carnival, according to its managers, bids fair to be the most successful concern of its kind ever undertaken in America. The idea was born of the restless energy that characterizes the people of the high, altitudinous portion of the West. It was seized, in lieu of a mining boom, with rare avidity and enthusiasm, and. backed by the plethoric purses of bonanza kings, it has crystallized into a magnificent structure of cold splendors—an artist’s chef d’ouevre  in ice. It is a veritable palace, patterned in a measure after those of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Its site is nearly two miles above sea level, on a ridge in the Leadville basin, and overlooking the city of Leadville and the valley of the Arkansas, picturesque in winter snow and belts of sombre conifers. The grim snow-clad peaks of the Musquito and Saguache ranges rise to majestic heights on either side of the valley, and the cycloramic view from the ice castle is one of alpestrine, wintry grandeur.

For two months about two hundred men have been employed in erecting the building, which is of the Old Norman school of architecture, and in which three hundred thousand feet of lumber and five thousand tons of ice are used. The greatest length is four hundred and fifty feet and the width is three hundred and fifty feet. It is a permanent frame structure, encased with solid walls of ice. Two massive octagonal towers ninety feet high flank the main entrance. Flag-staffs rise from the towers to the height of one hundred and twenty feet.

The effect is of massive architectural beauty. Within the portals stands a huge female figure in ice, representing the glorification of Leadville. With one arm she points to the eastern hills, and in the other she holds a scroll bearing the legend “$207,000,000.” These being the figures which represent the total metallic wealth produced by the camp—since its conversion front a placer-mining into a lode-mining camp.

ice statues in the leadville palace

Ice statues in the Leadville ice palace

The main chamber is a skating rink with fifteen thousand square feet of ice surface. Its ceiling is decorated with a heavy frost-work of artificially produced rime. Corinthian columns of solid ice, inclosing incandescent lights before tin reflectors, support the roof.

The grand ballroom has a floor of grooved Texas pine. The annexes include an auxiliary ballroom and dining hall, and a complement of modern conveniences; icicle effects are given in the decorations. The eastern annex is finished in terra-cotta and blue, and the western annex in orange and blue. Throughout the edifice an effort has been made to combine beauty of scene with comfort, a fitting abode for the devotees of the Frost King.

ice statues in the leadville palace 2

A museum annex has a lot of snow statuary carved out of snow slushed solidly and then sprayed, and exhibits of fruit. flowers, and mechanical appliances in solid cakes of ice. A programme of divertisements throughout the winter on an elaborate scale has been planned, and a season of festivities, glittering pageantry, and winter sports has been inaugurated. Chief among them will be the storming of the ice castle by the Snow-Shoe and other clubs, the castle being held and defended by the Leadville Press Club. Various gala and occasional days have been set, and brilliant balls and receptions will be given from time to time. Among the outdoor attractions is a toboggan slide two thousand feet long with a double rush.

Leadville is gay with bunting, the colors being old gold, silver, copper, and lead, representing the royal and chief base metals produced by the camp. The official souvenir badge is of silver and gold, a bucket of ore hung on a bar composed of a shovel, pick. and hammer, emblematic of the miners’ calling. On the streets gay carnival costumes mingle with the picturesque garb of the miners.

The director-general of the Crystal Carnival. Mr. Tingley S. Wood, is a representative and successful miner, operating on a large scale, and owning productive properties in the gold belt and silver contact zone. He is a native of southeastern Ohio, and resides with his family part of the time in Springfield, Illinois, where he is a member of the famous Sangamon Club. Mr. Wood is a gentleman of dignified demeanor, handsome, courteous, and urbane. Always well dressed, he is thoroughly versed in geology, mineralogy, and the mysteries of smelting, and is the ideal successful miner.

That the fair sex will be brilliantly represented at the Carnival will be understood by any one who will glance at our page of pictures of the prominent women of Leadville.

Julius Von Linden

The Illustrated American 11 January 1896: p. 345

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Undoubtedly a glittering occasion, to judge by the lavish prose of Mr Von Linden. Mrs Daffodil is reminded of the fancy-dress skating carnivals of Canada and the luxury ice hotels of the frozen north.  While acknowledging the novelty (and the appeal of seeing the Northern Lights in their native habitat), Mrs Daffodil is at a loss for why one would travel so far to spend the night in an unheated chamber, when one might experience the same sensations at any week-end spent at an English country-house.


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

A Naughty Story on Ice: 1865

A Naughty Story

A New York correspondent writes: Shall I tell you a naughty story? Let its veracity excuse it.

Some time ago a carnival came off on one of the Brooklyn ponds. Everybody was expected to wear fancy dress and mask, and the affair being very select, good folks by scores, resolved to go. Among them were Mr. Folie—I see that you demand all the names—and his handsome lady, of Clinton Avenue. Clinton avenue is the Madison Square, the West Green street of Brooklyn, and Mrs. Folie is the most admired mistress of its most sumptuous dwelling. She was quite a good figure upon steel, having practiced upon the Capitoline—not to speak of parlor skating, which teaches one the motion quite as well—every good afternoon. But unfortunately, Mr. Folie, who must necessarily make one of the party, did not know the use of patins, though to gratify his wife, who was much too “proper” to go anywhere by night, unaccompanied by her husband, he consented to attend the carnival.  Folie had never seen his wife on ice. Being a close business man, though something of a gallant, so he acknowledged her to be a nice thing, when gliding off so excellently, and “rolling” so elegantly. Poor fellow! Must he patter around like a cripple while she could skim like a racer? However, they masked at last in the separate buildings provided for the sexes, and put on their distinct costumes. Mr. Folie wore a dress of the time of Cosimo the First, and Mrs. Folie appeared as a fair Bretoness, with a Starched cap and skirt gown, which gave her graceful limbs free circulation. Folie, being absorbed in business had forgotten to ask what his wife’s garb would be; but Mrs. Folie, to be well protected, had betrayed her domino to a gentlemen whom she made promise not to reveal her incognito, and particularly to introduce no gentleman to her who was not absolutely fastidious and honorable. So they shot out for the pond; the ice was smooth as crystal; Drummond lights threw wide splashes of brightness to and fro, but here and there were dark, isolated covers and corners, secure from intrusion. The people were numerous and the costumes so mostly that the angel of the Plague would not have known whom to spare. So for an instant Mrs. Folie’s friend disappeared, being a poor skater and unable to keep up with her, till returning, he made her acquainted with Mr. Dromio. Bowing merely, but not unmasking her, the new arrival glided to Mrs. Folie’s side, took her hands in his, as couples on ice do, and they “rolled” off like two marvelous automatons. Dromio wore a splendid Florentine dress: plumed cap, long ringlets, dark hose over shapely limbs, with sword, jeweled dagger, and the cross of the order of St. John. He was the best gymnast on the pond—raced backward, forward, High Dutch, wriggle, inside out, heel up, squirm, turn over, swallow himself! Mrs. Folie was in ecstasies. She was animated to a generous rivalry, and surpassed her own previous agility. Warmed by exercise and contact, their tones grew softer, their speech less formal; poor Mrs. Folie once slipped, when Dromio supplely caught her by the waist, and, bold man! Kept his hand around her when they were again alert.

“Withdraw your arm!” whispered Mrs. Folie; “my husband is here—he may know me.”

“Say not so,”exclaimed the ardent Dromio; “let us ourselves withdraw.”

They glided off to the far angles of the Pond, where, unobserved, their conversation sweetened. At last the supple Florentine seized Mrs. Folie’s hand and swore that it was the fairest on Long Island.

“Flatterer!” she answered. “If this were not the Carnival , I should be indignant.”

“But since it is the Carnival, give me one kiss—you will not refuse me?”

She did not. They lingered a luscious moment on the margin of the word moral and the demi-monde , and then the bell at the great gate rang—the Carnival was over —it was time to unmask.

“I fear to uncover,” said the lady; “you men are so seldom honorable!”

“But you must, the hour has arrived. Come! We must, we shall meet again! Let us draw!”

They slipped off the dark visages instantaneously, and looked into each other’s faces.

“Good heavens! It is Folie!”

“My wife! My wife! said the strong man, and they wilted.

This closed the tableau.

I may add that Folie was a good skater, but, wishing to have some fun on his own account, had not told wife so.

The Weekly Vincennes [IN] Western Sun 24 June 1865

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A familiar story and one which has furnished a plot for many an operetta and play. One is uncertain as to the earliest version of this naughty tale, but here is another:

At Cornely’s Masquerade , last Monday, a pretty Fruit Wench attracted so forcibly the Attention of Lord Grosvenor that for two Hours she was the sole Object of his Flattery and Admiration. At length, worked up into an irresistible Want of forming an Alliance with her, he told her his Name, offered a Carte Blanche, and begged she would not delay his Happiness. The Lady whispered her Consent, but insisted upon continuing masked. The amorous Lord, overjoyed at the Conquest he had made, conducted his fair Inamorata to the Nunnery in Pall Mall, where, having praised and re-praised every Charm he beheld and enjoyed, he obtained Leave to untie the odious Mask that concealed the Beauty who had made him happy. What Pen, or Pencil, could paint or describe the ghastly Astonishment of his Lordship at the Sight of that Woman! What! my Wife, muttered he, shaking in every Limb! Lady Grosvenor burst into Laughter and left the Room, thanking him ironically for the Right he had given her to taste with Impunity of the forbidden Fruit.

The Virginia Gazette 14 May 1772

Ice carnivals were a highly popular winter entertainment. Mrs Daffodil has written previously about a New York ice carnival, as well as how to be decorative on skates .

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.