Presentation And Book Signing By Suzanne Silverthorn
Tourism in the early years of Estes Park was just as essential for the livelihood of the early settlers as it remains for the town’s businesses today. Historical author, Suzanne Silverthorn, from Grand Lake and Vail, Colorado will be in Estes Park on June 25th for a fascinating presentation on how tourism developed in the area and the influence that Roe Emery, and his “Circle Tour” featured in her book “Rocky Mountain Tour,” had on its growth. The Friday evening program at the museum will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will include a book signing. It is sponsored by the Estes Park Museum Friends & Foundation, Inc.
Silverthorn’s pictorial book is filled with old photos, postcards, brochures, decals, promotional flyers and souvenirs, advertizing Rocky Mountain National Park and its gateway towns during the height of early tourism from the 1920s through the early 1950s. She skillfully tells the story of the beginning of this new industry of tourism in the Estes Park and Grand Lake valleys by exploring the old lodges, hotels and transportation of the area. Essential to the Colorado mountain tourism business was Roe Emery, who developed the “Circle Tour,” which started in Denver, traveled to Estes, then up Fall River Road, one of the most exciting parts of the tour, over the Continental Divide to Grand Lake, and back to Denver via Berthoud Pass and Idaho Springs.
Emery knew what the public wanted and was able to supply it: charming, rustic accommodations or for those who desired the best, the elegant Stanley Hotel. Excellent food with all transportation provided, plus local guides and entertainment was a winning combination. Known by some as the “Father of Tourism” in Colorado, Emery had been in the tourism business at Glacier National Park and realized the potential of bringing tourists to Rocky Mountain National Park. He purchased the Stanley owned, Estes Park Transportation Company, converted from the old steam touring buses to large, red, gas powered, open air touring vehicles and named it The Rocky Mountain Touring Co. At one point in time, in the early l920s he had a monopoly on providing tour buses through the park. He then turned to acquiring lodging and eventually purchased: The Estes Park Chalets, currently Marys Lake Lodge, The Stanley hotel and Grand Lake Lodge. Emery’s Rocky Mountain Touring Company was a huge success and continued into the early 1950s. Along with the growth of Emery’s empire the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake benefited and tourism grew.
Come hear Suzanne tell the story and see selected images of memorabilia and post cards from her book, “Rocky Mountain Tour.” Silverthorn is a longtime summer resident of Grand Lake and has accumulated a large collection of historic postcards of the area. She is a regular contributor to the Rocky Mountain Nature Association Quarterly and has served as the community information officer for the town of Vail for more than a decade. Her book is available in the museum gift shop.