This article was published in the Glenwood Post Independent. By Randy Essex.
Glenwood Springs has some new history.
It’s downtown, right across the street from where Doc Holliday died, at the heart of Glenwood’s earliest developments — and connected to one of the newest things in town.
Thirteen plaques that outline key moments in Glenwood’s early history were placed last week on the north side of the building Colorado Mountain College shares with U.S. Bank and the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
People strolling by can learn about some of the town’s early key figures such as Katie Bender and David Delaplane; its history as a ski destination; where and how it got its first water supply; and how some of the town’s iconic attractions were developed.
Quick: Why did the railroads race to reach Glenwood?
(See our quiz for the answer, but know that it was an important moment.)
“When the railroads came, it brought tech to Glenwood,” said Willa Kane, a CMC employee and volunteer at the Frontier Historical Society who wrote the content of the plaques. “It transformed us from a town of tents” to a frontier town of buildings and commerce.
The panels graphically connect the CMC offices, built in 1887, to the Cooper Commons building, completed in 2012 to house the new downtown library. The library’s exterior features 10 historical plaques.
Cunniffe Architects, which did signs for the CMC building entrance, came up with the plan for the newly placed panels on Eighth Street.
Doug Stewart, CMC’s director of marketing and communications, said his observation since the panels were placed last Thursday is that every time he’s been out on the sidewalk, someone has been lingering on the block reading the information.
Many buildings downtown bear small plaques about the history of the building, and CMC just placed one. The new panels add a dimension about the people who helped shape the early community, said Kane, who since 1998 has written the Frontier Diary column that now appears monthly in the Post Independent.
“I love these,” said Marianne Virgili, CEO of the chamber. “It brings history to life downtown, not only for visitors but for residents.”
These questions are drawn from the panels around the CMC and library buildings.
1. Who was the first known white person to see the site that would become Defiance, then Glenwood Springs?
2. Pioneer businesswoman Katie Bender operated a restaurant near the Colorado River and rail line. What business occupies that spot today?
3. Why did the Denver and Rio Grande, and Colorado and Midland railroads race to reach Glenwood Springs in 1887?
4. What was the town’s original source for a municipal water supply?
5. Who had the financial connections and vision to develop electricity, the Hot Springs Pool and Hotel Colorado?
6. What was Glenwood Springs’ unique contribution to the World War II effort, lasting from July 11, 1943, until Dec. 31, 1945?
7. Red Mountain Ski Area operated from 1940-47, but lack of snow and a bad road led to its closure. When was the final attempt to revive downhill skiing there?
8. When did the first paved road open through Glenwood Canyon?
9. In what sport did a Glenwood Springs club win the Rocky Mountain Championship in 1903 and 1904?
HISTORY QUIZ ANSWERS
1. Richard Sopris, prospector, explorer and, later, mayor of Denver
2. Juicy Lucy’s
3. To reach the Roaring Fork Valley’s coal fields
4. No Name Creek, which remains one of the town’s water sources
5. Walter Devereux. You’d think that would merit a nicer street being named for him.
6. It was home to the U.S. Naval Convalescent Hospital to treat “war-damaged minds and bodies,” and saw 6,525 patients in two and a half years.
8. Aug. 1, 1938