Monday, July 25, 2016

The Key to Sudden Death

Good afternoon everybody!

Today I would like to look at a key titled "Key to Sudden Death." In reality, this key isn't really a key at all, but part of  a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake carcass. With all the wildlife sightings in the area recently, it only seemed fitting.

The Western Diamond Rattlesnake, commonly known as the Texas Diamondback Rattlesnake lives in Texas and Mexico. It is the most common venomous snake in the area. This snake is a dusty brown color with darker brown diamond pattern down its back and white rings near the end of the tail. Western Diamond Rattlesnakes are pit vipers. This means that they can sense differences in temperature from the animals around them, making hunting incredibly easy. This snake is a generalist, which means that they are not very picky about where they live. As long as it's warm, they'll stay. These snakes hibernate during the winter and mate during the fall. They oftentimes give birth to about twelve children after a seven month gestation period. The young only stay with their mother one hour after birth and are fully capable of delivering a fully venomous bite the moment they are born.

The venom that the Western Diamond Rattlesnake produces destroys tissues and disables their prey. The venom also contains cytotoxins and myotoxins that destroys cells and stops cardiovascular function. General local effects include pain, heavy internal bleeding, severe bleeding, muscle damage, blistering and necrosis. The venom also causes hemorrhagins, dizziness, and convulsions. Although the snake only needs to bite its prey once in order to kill it, it is usually not enough to kill a human. Mortality rate of untreated bites from this snake is between 10-20%

This key was donated to the Key Room by Lillian and Fred Proctor.

Until next time!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hotel Keys - Tokyo's Imperial Hotel

Greetings!  Today's key is going to transport us across the Pacific Ocean to the country of Japan, where we visit the famed Imperial Hotel of Tokyo.  This hotel, currently boasting more than 700 rooms, has an especially interesting history that we'll dive right into.

The Imperial Hotel's history dates back to its opening in 1890.  At the time, Japanese leaders and other important figures thought that opening such a hotel would be a necessity for Japan.  The objective was for it to be targeted at foreign visitors.  The initial hotel building was designed in a neo-Renaissance style, looking like it would fit in more with a European city than a turn-of-the-century Japanese one.  After a slow start, business at the hotel gradually picked up until the hotel became more of a Japanese institution.

The original 1890 Imperial Hotel

The original 1890 hotel ended up burning down in 1922.  Fortunately, the hotel was in the midst of some big plans, and, as a result, the fire wasn't the end of the hotel.  A decade before the fire, Frank Lloyd Wright, the famed American architect, was contracted to design a new hotel.  His design was based on a Mayan Revival style of architecture, with the main facility resembling a pyramid.  Wright's building endured a barrage of physical abuse over its lifetime, starting fairly early with the massive 1923 earthquake.  While Wright was informed there was no damage, some minor parts of the building sustained some amounts of damage.  During World War II, the incendiary bombing of Tokyo by the Allies decimated the hotel's south wing and completely annihilated the beloved Peacock Room.  When Wright was asked to return to the hotel to oversee repairs, he refused, presumably due to the fact that Japan and the US were still at war at that point.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Imperial Hotel, as seen on a postcard

During the American occupation of Japan, the Japanese owners were forced to give up the property.  It was not returned until 1952, when the decaying hotel began the repair process.  A few more annexes were added to the building so that the hotel could accommodate more visitors.  But then, in 1967, with the building aging poorly, the decision was made to demolish it and start over again.  Despite Wright's structure being a classic, the repairs needed on the building made a new one more practical.  Additionally, Wright had the idea of a "floating foundation", essentially set on mud, which would help protect against earthquakes.  While it did help in that regard, it also made parts of the building sink over 3 feet.  The newer hotel would be on a much more solid foundation, and hopefully as safe against earthquakes.

The remains of the Wright structure, as it appears today

The current version of the Imperial Hotel was completed in 1970, and is considered to be one of Tokyo's top hotels.  The Japanese were diligent in modeling their hotel after American hotels and practices, in their consistent attempt to appeal to foreign visitors.  Despite the fact that today's hotel isn't nearly as architecturally interesting as Wright's version, it remains a popular destination.  And fortunately, for those who want to see a glimpse of the older hotel, the lobby and part of the Wright hotel have been reassembled at the Museum Meiji-Mura in Nagoya.  The museum is a large architectural park which celebrates early 1900s Meiji-style architecture.

The modern Imperial Hotel

As always, be sure to check out the key to the Imperial Hotel of Tokyo, as well as countless other keys, in the key room!


Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Key to the First United Airlines "Mainliner"

Good morning key lovers!

  I hope all of you have had an exceptional morning and start to your day, as the weather continues to get hotter and drier up here in the Rocky Mountains.  Today I have decided to focus on a key that's unique story captured my attention right away- the key to the First United Air Lines "Mainliner."

  United Airlines Flight 629, registration N37559, also known as "Mainliner Denver," was blown up by a dynamite bomb placed in a bag of checked luggage on November 1, 1955.  The plane explosion occurred over Longmont, Colorado when the plane was flying from Denver, Colorado to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.  All 5 crew members and 39 passengers were killed in the explosion.

  After a lengthy and tedious investigation, investigators determined that a man named Jack Gilbert Graham was responsible for the explosion as a revenge plot on his mother for a claimed "troubled" childhood, and to obtain a large life insurance payout.  Graham, who already had an extensive criminal record, was tried, convicted, and executed for the crime within 15 months of the explosion.

  At the time of the explosion, there was actually no federal statute that made it a crime to blow up an aircraft.  Therefore, in order to convict Graham of his crime that tried him on the ground of premeditated murder against one victim, which was his mother Mrs. King.  Despite the multiple deaths, he was only executed on the murder of his mother, and it was the first trial to be televised in Colorado.

  Following the bombing and execution, a bill was introduced and signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 that made the intentional bombing of an aircraft illegal.  Graham is believed to have been inspired by a similar crime committed by Albert Guay, in which he bombed an airplane with the intention of killing his wife.

  I know I have chosen some dark stories to focus on lately, but sometimes the darkest moments in our nation's history are the most interesting. But do come on down and find some keys that you may find especially interesting to yourself when you visit our key room!

  Til Next Time,

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Francis Scott Key Key

Today I want to talk about a Key that is very important both in this museum and in our nation's history.

Francis Scott Key was born august 1, 1779 in Maryland. He became a successful lawyer and was later appointed to be the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

In the year 1812 the United States of America declared war on Great Britain due to a number of trade agreements. The British set fire to the White House, the Library of Congress, and the Capitol Building before setting their sights on Baltimore. In 1814, Key had gone to a ship off the coast of Baltimore to negotiate the release of his friend. He succeeded but was not allowed to leave the ship until the bombing of the Fort McHenry was over. He watched the whole thing from eight miles away. After a day of bombing, the British gave up. When the dust settled, Key saw the American flag still flying from the fort. He was so moved by the experience that he wrote a poem in tribute. The poem was printed in newspapers and eventually set to music. It was adopted as the national anthem March 3rd, 1931.

The flag that Francis Scott Key saw that night was made in 1813 by Mary Young Pickersgill in a building now known as the Baltimore Flag House. In 1936 when that house was being renovated, some of the original wood was carved into a wooden key with pictures of Francis Scott Key and the flag house on the front and the story of the house on the back. We acquired the key from Dudley P. Bowe, the president of the Star Spangled Banner Flag House Association in 1947.

The Francis Scott Key key is located in cabinet #7 in the Key Room. Make sure you take a look when you visit!

Until next time,

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Tom Horn Execution Case!

Good morning key lovers!

  Today I decided to switch things up a little bit and focus on one of the other various artifacts found in our key museum that is not a key- a piece of rope that Tom Horn was hung with after being convicted of the murder of 14 year-old Willie Nickell.

  Tom Horn was an American Old West scout who carried out various jobs as a gunman, cowboy, soldier, detective, and Pinkerton.  He is believed to have committed about 17 murders during his time as a scout, and was finally executed after being accused with the murder of Willie Nickell in 1902.  Willie Nickell lived in Iron Mountain, Wyoming, and was the son of Kels Nickell, a sheep rancher. Kels Nickell had been involved in a feud with his neighbor Jim Miller, who was a cattle rancher.  Horn visisted Jim Miller and his family, and learned of the feud with the Nickell family.  On July 18, 1901, young Willie Nickell was found murdered near the family's homestead gate.

  Following his son's death, Kels Nickell was shot and wounded wile 60-80 of his sheep were clubbed to death.  Other various violent attacks occurred against the Nickell family, prolonging the murder investigation.  Tom was later questioned about the murder by Deputy Marshal Joe Lefors, After gathering what was perceived to be ample evidence, Horn was arrested for the murder of the young boy.  After receiving a guilty verdict by the jury, Horn was sentenced to be executed by hanging.

  Tom Horn was one of the few people in the Wild West to be hanged by the Julian Gallows, which were water-powered gallows where the trapdoor was connected to a lever which pulled the plug out of a barrel of water.  This then caused the lever with a counterweight to rise, pulling the support beam under the gallows.  Horn was buried in Boulder, CO in the Columbia Cemetery.  There is still debate to this day if Horn was wrongly accused of the murder, as many believed that he did not commit the act.  The picture above is Tom Horn holding his execution rope as he awaits his hanging.

  On a lighter note, I hope you all enjoy this beautiful summer day, and if you happen to be in visiting Estes Park, come pay us a visit here at the Baldpate!

  Signing off,

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Key to the Curtain

Good Afternoon Key Lovers!

Today we are presenting the play adaptation of Seven Keys to Baldpate at our Key-thedral. In the spirit of theatre, I thought we could look into the theatrical past of Colorado.

Any native to Colorado has visited Elitch Gardens in Denver for a day of roller coasters and cotton candy, but did you know that before Six Flags bought Elitch Gardens, it was a theatre? In the early 1900s Elitch Gardens was famous for its plays, zoological park, and cultural center. The theatre became internationally known for performing ten plays during the ten-week season and attracting stars of both the stage and screen. The theatre hosted talent such as Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Vincent Price, Grace Kelly and Kitty Carlisle. Cecil B DeMille used to send yearly telegraphs wishing the company good luck for the season.

New members of the Elitch Garden Players had to go through initiation each summer. They were told that to open they had to find the key to the curtain. As many of you may know, curtains don't need keys. There was no actual key to the curtain, it was a wild goose chase. The props-master in 1929 created a real "Key to the Curtain," however, instead of letting the new members find it, they donated it to the Baldpate Inn. The key has the mask of comedy on the top to represent the trick that was played on newcomers while the bottom of the key is fashioned to look like a giant E which stands for Elitch Gardens. 

We hope to see you soon in the audience of our own reenactment of Seven Keys to Baldpate today at seven or tomorrow at three.

Until next time!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Key to the Queen Mary

Good morning key lovers!

   It is yet another gorgeous morning day here at the Baldpate, and as I was perusing our amazing key collection I came across a key that I thought would be very interesting for the daily blog post today. It is the key to the infamous Queen Mary ship!  This key was donated to us by manager at the Chicago Office for Cunard White Star in June of 1936, and proves to be especially rich in history.

  The Queen Mary was an ocean liner that sailed on the North Atlantic from the years 1936-1967.  Along with the Queen Elizabeth, these ships were built as a part of Cunard's plan for a two-ship weekly express that would run between South Hampton, Cherbourg and New York City.  The Queen Mary first set sail on the 27th of May in 1936, earning the the Blue Riband accolade in August of that same year. When World War II broke out, the Queen Mary was converted into a trooper ship that ferried allied soldiers for the duration of the war.

  After the war, the Queen Mary, along with the Queen Elizabeth, continued to dominate transatlantic passenger travel until the jet age emerged in the 1950s.  The ship was officially retired from service in 1967, leaving South Hampton and arriving in Long Beach, California, which remains the ship's home to this day.  The Queen Mary now serves as a tourist attraction, featuring a museum, restaurants, and a hotel. It also is rumored to be haunted, being ranked by Time magazine as one of the top ten most haunted places in the USA.  This is mainly due to the fact that 49 known crew passengers were known to have died on the ship during the ship's service as a luxury liner.

  That's all I have for you guys for now, but come on down and enjoy a walk around our key museum and a nice bite to eat on this hot summer day!

  Til Next Time,