1918 Influenza Pandemic in Golden

Originally posted September 30, 2018

Colorado Transcript, December 12, 1918 - Influenza Epidemic in Golden Colorado

2018 is the 100th anniversary of an influenza pandemic that killed “at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States,” according to the CDC. The first mention of the epidemic in Golden appeared in the September 26th Colorado Transcript.

September 26, 1918
There have been several cases of influenza in Golden in the past week and the public should take precautions to prevent an epidemic of the disease, according to Dr. Packard, city health officer. The disease affects the lungs chiefly, but is manifested by fever pains in the joints and some cough. There is headache, the eyes may be bloodshot and sensitive to light. The disease is transmitted by direct contact or indirectly through clothing, dishes, etc. No quarantine is required by law, but persons suffering from this disease should not attend any public meetings, picture shows, schools, churches, or visit back and forth with neighbors, says Dr. Packard.

October 10, 1918
Within two weeks,  Transcript showed that the epidemic had taken a serious turn. In an emergency city council meeting, city leaders decided to “Take Steps to Prevent ‘Flu’ Epidemic — Schools, Churches, Shows and All Gathering Places Closed–Prompt Action to Check Spread of Disease.” Later editions of the paper showed that the schools stayed closed until November, briefly reopened, and then closed again when the epidemic flared up again.

Golden lost several people to this epidemic, including City Alderman Oscar Nolin and Businessman Henry Foss, who established the long-running Foss Drug Store.  In December, the Armory Building was turned into a temporary hospital to care for influenza patients.  The epidemic slowed and finally disappeared in 1919.

Originally published November 11, 2018

Colorado Transcript - Armistice Day Celebration

The Armistice between Germany and the Allied Forces was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

The 1918 crew at the Transcript wrote a great article describing the spontaneous celebration that took place in downtown Golden when word of the Armistice reached us.  There were firecrackers, a bonfire, and a spur of the moment parade that stretched for six blocks.  The crowd rang the City’s fire bell non-stop for more than seven hours, until it finally cracked.  That cracked bell still hangs in front of City Hall.  Read the original Transcript article here:

Originally published November 12, 2018

In other news from 1918…the Influenza Epidemic was still raging when the Armistice was declared, but Golden lifted the ban on public gatherings–possibly to allow people to celebrate the ending of the War.  Only one week later, the Transcript announced that the ban would be reinstated.

With more cases of influenza in Golden than at any time since the epidemic started, the ban on public meets; etc., has been placed on the city again, after having been lifted the first of last week.  This action was taken yesterday by the city health authorities, after several conferences.  For the present, the schools will not be closed, but no public gatherings of any sort will be permitted, and church services, parties, dances, lodge meetings, etc., will be taboo until further notice.
Colorado Transcript – November 21, 1918

Why was this epidemic so important?  Consider this:  “The typical estimates are that approximately 20 million people were killed by of World War I – over a four-year period – and 50 to 100 million people were killed by the flu – with most of those deaths being over a four-month period.”  Learn more about this nearly-forgotten pandemic tomorrow night at Golden Beer TalksLearn more…. (click to hear Frank Blaha’s Nov 2018 talk about the Influenza epidemic)

The Golden Transcript (originally called the Colorado Transcript) has been publishing since 1866. The Golden History Museum has been working on digitizing the historic issues. You’ll find old Transcripts online at  You can contribute to the cost of the digitizing project with a donation to the Golden History Museum.