Curious Place in Redstone, Colorado
Cook Book from 1959
While traveling two years ago, we flipped through our old Ford Motor cookbook for inspiration. We looked through the recipes in the Colorado section, hoping to find a restaurant or hotel that was still serving food in 2017.
On page 215, I found Redstone Lodge, with a recipe for Mock Cheese Cake and an illustration that looked like a Walt Disney created fairytale setting. I checked the internet and the hotel was still in operation! We decided to stop for breakfast.
The hotel didn't exactly match the exaggerated book illustration, but it was festive with flags and flowers.
Not Always a Hotel
The building was completed in 1902, but not as a lodge or inn. The structure was built to provide housing for bachelor miners, who worked for John C. Osgood's Colorado Fuel & Iron Company. Pretty ritzy, for miners who were often used to living in shacks.
The hotel lobby was neat and quiet, that June morning. The woman at the desk was pleasant. She steered us towards the bar/grill.
Old Dining Room
I was disappointed that the main dining room was closed, since this was probably the place where Mock Cheese Cake was once served.
Dining in Back
We were actually better dressed for the bar and grill. We settled in with our menus and coffee. While waiting for our omelets and bagels, I studied the space trying to determine whether it was a new addition. I always prefer old.
It looked like at least part of the dining area was the original building. One of the servers said the round window had been there since 1902. It looked like a glowing, circular painting.
There was a screen door and there were lots of windows, to enjoy the surrounding pine trees and gardens and sunshine. Best of all, our young server was excited to see the cookbook with the spotlight on Redstone. "We don't even serve cheesecake at all!" She laughed as she studied the watercolor image and recipe. Usually young people don't really get it, when we share the cookbook.
Up We Go
We didn't mind the stairs. We're always happy to burn off some of the road food calories. We also didn't mind one night, without our own bath or sink.
I reworded my question twice but couldn't get a real answer. I sensed there were no other guests on our floor, but she seemed to enjoy withholding the information. "Oh there are just a few." She said at first. I said I would be more comfortable, if I knew how many people I might be sharing towels and soaps with. "Oh... there really shouldn't be a problem." That answer was a little vague for me.
In the morning, (after rushing more than usual in the shower) I was pleased to come down the stairs and see a new smiling face at the desk. I asked my I'm just curious question, and she answered with an enthused voice. "Oh, you were our only guests on the third floor last night! You had it all to yourselves!" Grrrr! I would have enjoyed my shower more...
Our Clock Tower Room
But our sweet little room was just fine.
When we first opened the door to our square, cozy space, I grinned. I loved the idea of sleeping beneath the big clock. We also had a clock on the wall, but it was the tower clock that I heard late at night, when all was quiet. The soothing tic-tocking sound, helped me drift off to sleep.
There were two sets of windows, with oddly tied curtains. The window shapes were fun and the view was even funner.
The lush landscape beyond was lovely, but I was intrigued by the roofline, with all the dormer windows.
The dormer windows right across from us, must have belonged to more guest rooms. Did the miners once sleep on the third floor? Maybe the cooks and cleaning staff did? Who slept in the clock tower room?
Our tower room was a little tight, but the high ceilings made it feel less cramped. We had a desk and even a TV. The closet held a fan and a portable heater. I was very curious about the ladder in the closet, that obviously led up to the clock. But the trapdoor was locked.
Since we couldn't explore the upper tower and examine the clock, we took off to explore the grounds. The swimming pool was closed for renovation. That worked for us, since we hadn't planned on swimming... and the hotel offered a $25. food voucher to compensate.
The area between the lobby and dining room was charming, with leather sofas, chessboard and a great fireplace... if only it had been colder. But the lights were off and I didn't wanted to ask the desk woman, who seemed cranky. Maybe she was just having a bad day.
There was a brighter area on the other side of the lobby that looked more welcoming. There were books and there was another great fireplace... if it had been colder.
Balcony with a View
Don and I wandered outside and noticed the outdoor sitting areas on the first and second floor. No one seemed to be making proper use of these wonderful lounging areas, so we searched for an entrance to the second floor veranda. It was through a little sitting room, in the tower, beneath our room.
We had to dust the pollen (or something) off the chairs before sitting. But once we were seated in our wicker, we had a lovely mountain view. We made a toast, while the Nikon's auto-timer beeped away.
We were again disappointed that the main dining room was closed. It was summer, but still only open on weekends. Luckily the grill was open again, since the Redstone community is very isolated, with no other dining options that night.
Relaxing in the Bar & Grill
In fact Bruce shared the book with this friendly fellow, who helped prepare our food. Both were good sports about posing for me! What an enjoyable evening on a Monday night.
One of the interesting things Bruce shared, was about the reproduced murals in the hotel. In the 1940's, Frank Mechau was a nationally renowned muralist and resident of the small Redstone community.
If you love horses, this image is a little disturbing. But I was drawn right away to the fluid style of all the artist's work that was displayed in the hotel.
While we talked about the art, our artistic meals arrived. The phyllo & elk appetizer and enchiladas were as tasty as they looked.
Sleeping in the Tower
Exploring in the Morning
Since our inn was just steps away from the village of Redstone, we needed to experience the whole community.
We grabbed complimentary hotel coffee and some food from the car and headed for a marble table, beside the Crystal River. After our breakfast picnic, we peeked across the highway to see the old coking ovens that were part of Mr. Osgood's mining company.
Planned Company Town
We wandered down the only road in town, to see a few homes and shops that are left from Osgood's old company town. In the early 1900's, the miners who had families, lived in the cottages, just down the road from the dormitories (now hotel) that held the unmarried miners. About 130 residents live in the area, today.
We slept in the same Tudor Revival style building, where miners once slept. That's pretty notable right there.
It's hard to picture this place abandoned and in disrepair, after the mines closed in 1909. Much of the town was dismantled or demolished, but luckily the old dormitory was turned into a lodge in the 1950's. Selfishly, I'm glad the inn didn't have a grand, resort feel. It was nice having much of the place to ourselves. But I so hope others will come and enjoy, to help preserve this hotel and community. Sweet little place!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!