Located at 618 Main Street was the Babberger Studio, run by William Babberger. Babberger moved to Cañon City in the early 1900s and by 1902 was owner of a photography studio. According to a business directory in 1906, Babberger’s speciatlies were “Stylish Photography, Crayons and Pastels.” He also sold frames, mats, glass, and artist’s materials. By 1916, the studio was located at 403 Main Street, possibly due to a fire at the preivious location in 1915.
Babberger was born in Germany and moved to the United States when he was 17 years old. When he moved to Cañon City, his wife and daughters stayed behind in Kansas City, Missouri. When his daughter came to the city unexpectedly, Babberger did not recognize her. She arranged a sitting to have her photo taken and talked with him for some time before informing him of her identity. According to the Cañon City Record, who reported on the story on July 18, 1907, Babberger was surprised and delighted upon the discovery. His daughter planned to remain in the city for a couple of weeks.
Some of Babberger’s photos were put on display in the show window of the Baker & Biggs Mercantile Company as reported by the Cañon City Record on August 20, 1908. The photos, of Cañon City and surroundings, were part of an exhibition at the International Tuberculosis Congress held at Washington, D.C. Babberger’s daughter Bertha passed away of tuberculosis in 1917 at the age of 27.
Along with his photography, Babberger raised bees to collect honey. An article in the San Juan Prospector on August 6, 1910, noted that Babberger calculated that his 45 colonies of bees would net him $400 for the year. He was also featured in the American Bee Journal in January 1913 and praised for his apiary where his bees were kept.
In 1923, Babberger and his wife moved to California where they purchased a tract of alfalfa land. He also planned to conduct a hotel along with his photographic business according to the Cañon City Daily Record on August 17, 1923. Babberger passed away at the age of 66 in California in 1931.
This is part of a series of early local photographers in the area for National Photography Month. Follow the links for more blogs.
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.