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Estes Park Museum Offers Rare Tour Of Historic Elkhorn Lodge & Guest Ranch

The Estes Park Museum invites you to travel 130 years into the past, to a time when large dances, oyster suppers, and baseball and tennis games were a few of the ways to relax while spending a summer in an Estes Park resort.

The Museum is offering a unique tour of the Elkhorn Lodge on Monday, August 31 from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m., guided by Historian Laureate Jim Pickering. Preregistration is required and there is a fee.
In 1875, William James and his family settled in Estes Park to make a living through ranching. After an inauspicious start involving filing a homestead claim, undergoing a land dispute with Alexander MacGregor’s mother-in-law, burning a barn, and swapping land with Reverend McCreery, James secured a tract along Fall River.  This became the site of the James Ranch in 1877.

As with most of the original settlers of the area who were initially ranchers, the James family quickly began to take in summer visitors, and the foundations for Elkhorn Lodge were established. By 1880, with a rate of about ten dollars a week for a cabin or tent house, the property could accommodate between thirty-five and forty guests. In time, the grounds would grow to look like a small city and become the largest tourist resort in Estes Park. After the passing of William James in 1895, the rest of the family continued as proprietors of the resort well into the middle of the twentieth century.

Structures on the August 31 tour may include the cabin that also served as Estes Park’s first school in 1884 (an initiative by the James family), the Coach House which served as a center for entertainment, the “Chapel” cabin with its distinctive Rocky Mountain Rustic architecture, a guest cabin, the original lodge and the later, larger “Main Lodge” with rooms for 180 guests, a dining hall, a ballroom with spring-loaded floor, and more.

A free pre-tour program by Jim Pickering on the history and significance of the Elkhorn Lodge will be offered on Sunday, August 30 from 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at the Estes Park Museum, 200 Fourth Street. Chairs will be reserved for all tour participants. Additional limited seating will be available to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.  Special guest will be Pieter Hondius, grandson of the Elkhorn’s founder, William James.

The tour group size is limited to 40.  Registration with payment is required beginning August 3 by calling 970-577-3762. Cost is $7 for members of the Estes Park Friends & Foundation, Inc., and $12 for non-members. Participants will meet at the Elkhorn Lodge, located at 600 West Elkhorn Avenue.

Now through October, the Museum, located at 200 Fourth Street, is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. The mission of the Estes Park Museum is to collect, interpret and preserve local history, as well as to present exhibits, programs and events for the education and benefit of residents and visitors of all ages. For more information call the Estes Park Museum at 586-6256 or visit the Museum’s website at Admission is always free.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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