Grand Lake, and Grand County in general, is a great example of a location that was so close and yet so far as regards early Estes Park history.
Both Grand County and Larimer County were quickly dismissed as sources of potential mineral wealth, and explored more for what they offered in terms of health and relaxation.
By November 1859, Saratoga West, the original designation applied to Hot Sulphur Springs, was being touted as a curative resort to residents of New Orleans. And Grand Lake was mentioned as a popular fishing and boating spot by white emigrants even earlier.
The first well-documented summit of Longs Peak in 1868 departed from Grand Lake. Estes Park's Mountain Jim (James Nugent) was mauled almost to death by a cinnamon bear while hunting in the Grand Lake area in the summer of 1871.
But apart from these and a few other limited interactions, Estes Park and Grand Lake, separated by the Continental Divide, planned and schemed on ways to connect by wagon road or railroad for over 40 years, and never accomplished that goal until the federal government stepped in to assist with completion of the long-delayed Fall River Road in 1918, which finally opened to real automobile traffic in 1921.
The Estes Park Archives will explore these and other Grand Lake contributions to early Estes Park history this Saturday, September 18 at 7:00 p.m. at 240 Moraine Avenue. Both the program and parking across the street are free, and reservations are not required.
All are cordially invited, even first-time visitors to Estes Park. Phone 586-4889 for directions or more details.