Seeing the Elephant
The name of this stable turned truck storage warehouse stirs debate on origin. During its first iteration, similarly named buildings in Iowa and Nebraska seem to be the inspiration.
However, some claim the named derives from the old saying “Seeing the Elephant,” a gold rush slogan that would have been used in the LoDo area when first being built. The definition from Century Dictionary says, “To see or to show the elephant, to see or exhibit something strange or wonderful, especially to see it for the first time.”
This saying later parents the saying “Seeing Pink Elephants,” a similar definition connected to the strange and wonderful.
1858 – The first iteration was built as a hotel and stable for emigrants and their animals. The hotel was called Denver Hall and was commonly used for public meetings. No elephants were ever recorded on the premises, but plenty of oxen and mules stamped about.
1863 — A fire destroyed the multi-use structure, making way for a two-story warehouse. Above, the Denver Daily Gazette pushed out papers in what was known as Union Hall. Below, animals were housed when not working around the growing city.
1888 – John Thames bought the property to knock down the buildings once again to make way for the current structures seen today.
1902 – Construction ended. Use of the building still as a stable ran all the way up until 1910, the purpose of reconstruction questionable. However, in time the storage of trucks out-purposed the storage of mules and horses, the Elephant Corral finally industrialized.