Reel CSU Stories: 1919 film shows revelry around home football game against CU

Some of the oldest surviving film footage of Colorado State University has resurfaced in time to be included in the upcoming documentary about CSU’s first 150 years.

The sesquicentennial documentary, which is due to be finished next spring, is being created by film producer Frank Boring with assistance from audiovisual presentation specialist Bryan Rayburn and student interns. They have been sifting through a wealth of film in the CSU archive to preserve, categorize and, in some cases, digitize the footage.

In the archives, Boring had found footage from a home football game against the University of Colorado in 1919 showing one of CSU’s early mascots, Teddy the Bear. According to Greg O’Malia, a longtime CSU video producer who retired in 2016, the film is a Fox newsreel. He found it on a three-quarter-inch tape in the Aylesworth Hall office he moved into when he started at CSU in December 1988.

He transferred it to Betacam tape, then digitized it and included it on a DVD of CSU athletics highlights that was handed out at a Green and Gold Gala about 15 years ago.

150th mark

This is part of a series of monthly stories about some of the things uncovered by film producer Frank Boring, who is poring over CSU’s film archives as he works on a documentary about the University’s history in honor of its 150th anniversary. For more stories, an interactive photo slider and a quiz on CSU lore, visit csu150.colostate.edu.

Boring had located 16-millimeter and Betacam versions of the film, but he suspected that the original film would have been 35-millimeter, since 16-millimeter film didn’t go into public use until around 1926. So in August 2018 he asked Vicky Lopez-Terrill of the Morgan Library whether Archives and Special Collections might have the original somewhere. And as luck would have it, she had recently been processing a collection of archival photos when she discovered a box with some old film reels in it.

One of them was labeled “Football 1919, CU vs. Colo. A&M,” and it was 35-millimeter.

Football a century ago

It’s now been digitized, and it’s longer than the edited version that O’Malia found in 1988. It features more than 12 minutes of footage showing the revelry around the 1919 season opener against CU at Colorado Field, where the Jack Christiansen Memorial Track now sits.

1919 film reel
1919 film reel

The film begins with the lead-up to the big game, with footage of a train arriving in Fort Collins carrying 1,400 CU fans from Boulder. They’re shown parading down the street along the railroad tracks, wearing “C” armbands for “Colorado.”

From the middle of the field before kickoff, the filmmaker does a 360-degree pan showing both sidelines packed with 4,000 fans and cars lined up behind each end zone. There are several shots showing Teddy the Bear, a live bear cub dressed up in a jersey bearing the “CAC” logo of Colorado Agricultural College. The bear reportedly belonged to a member of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show who lived in Fort Collins.

After footage of the football game itself, which CSU won 49-7, the film shows the postgame celebration, in which Aggie fans form a conga line in downtown Fort Collins, parading down the street behind a car.

Riding in the back seat of that car is Teddy the Bear.

Behind Reel CSU Stories

Frank Boring
Frank Boring

This is part of a series about the stories uncovered by film producer Frank Boring and audiovisual presentation specialist Bryan Rayburn, who are going through CSU’s film archives to compile a documentary about the University’s first 150 years. For more stories, an interactive photo slider and a quiz on CSU lore, visit csu150.colostate.edu. For an in-depth look at how the colleges of CSU have carried on the land-grant mission through the decades, go to source.colostate.edu/csu-150/.

Bryan Rayburn
Bryan Rayburn