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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Grand Lake in Grand County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Automobiles Come to Grand Lake

 
 
Automobiles Come to Grand Lake Marker<br>(<i>panel 1</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 17, 2015
1. Automobiles Come to Grand Lake Marker
(panel 1)
Inscription.  
Automobiles Come to Grand Lake (panel 1)
The number of automobiles had become so large that in 1913 the State of Colorado began issuing its first license plates. The 1915 dedication of Rocky Mountain National Park drew 2000 people, arriving in horse drawn vehicles and an amazing 300 automobiles.

Automobiles made it easier for tourists to come to Grand Lake in the summer, but were even less efficient at bringing customers in the winter than had been sleighs and wagons. The mail was still being delivered to Grand Lake by sleigh in the winter of 1925, but the summer business of that same year brought throngs of visitors dressed for adventures in the wild mountain west.

In fall of 1918, the Eslick boys purchased a Ford runabout. The newspapers of the time routinely reported every sale of an automobile, and by 1921 there were even used cars for sale, which indicates the level of interest and excitement the folks of Grand County had for cars. There was such a sense of freedom, being able to travel at will and without reliance on horses or stage lines.

A municipal camp ground specifically
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for auto tourists was installed in Town Park. With auto camping came some quirky inventions such as the canopy tent that hooked onto a car's roof, complete with a bed that folded out from the running board. Other inventions are still used today: Thermos bottles, folding chairs and tables, cookstoves and the like. But in Grand Lake, most other overnight accommodations for auto tourists were cottages and cabins. The Colorado State Business Directory lists cabins as well as cottages in Grand Lake in 1928, but none were cottage-garage combinations integrated under one roof line like the Smith-Eslick Cottage Court.

Difficult Roads (panel 2)
When the first Rustic hotels were built in Grand Lake in the 1880s, early tourists would take days, weeks or even months to arrive. There has never been direct train transportation to Grand Lake, and before the advent of automobiles in the 1900s, visitors would have to travel by foot, horse, wagon, or at best connect with a stage at the railroad in Georgetown or later in Granby.

Bringing suitable roads to remote Grand Lake was slowed by the short construction season and long winters, the harsh terrain, and funding problems. Berthoud Pass, now U.S. Highway 40 and the primary route to Grand Lake, started as a foot trail, and was not a completed road until 1874. It was constructed a little at
Automobiles Come to Grand Lake Marker (<i>panel 2 - Difficult Roads</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 17, 2015
2. Automobiles Come to Grand Lake Marker (panel 2 - Difficult Roads)
a time from its 1861 beginning in Empire to its end in present day Fraser. Once established, it was closed in winter through the 1920s, and suffered wash-outs in the spring. As late as 1921, workers still had to dig the Pass out by hand in Spring.

The State of Colorado began work on Fall River Road in 1913, to allow one to drive from Estes Park to the continental divide. Work was done primarily by hand and at first by convict labor. Building a road from the Grand Lake side through the new Rocky Mountain National Park began in 1917 and was completed by 1920. Automobiles quickly increased visitation. By 1919 “Rocky” was the most visited national park in the country, and newly accessible Grand Lake was busy with overnight visitors.

Grand Lake Area Historical Society • www.kauffmanhouse.org • 970-627-9644
[email protected]

 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Parks & Recreational AreasRoads & VehiclesWaterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 40° 15.095′ N, 105° 49.411′ W. Marker is in Grand Lake, Colorado, in Grand County. Marker is on Vine Street north of Lake Avenue, on the left when traveling north. Marker panels are mounted at eye-level, directly on the Smith-Eslick Cottage Court
Smith-Eslick Cottage Court (<i>wide view; marker panels are mounted on carport wall</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 17, 2015
3. Smith-Eslick Cottage Court (wide view; marker panels are mounted on carport wall)
building, on the carport wall at the north end of the row. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 725 Lake Avenue, Grand Lake CO 80447, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Smith-Eslick Family (here, next to this marker); Smith Eslick Cottage Camp (a few steps from this marker); The Bay Window Cottage (a few steps from this marker); Why Did They Come? (a few steps from this marker); The Smith Eslick Cottage Court (a few steps from this marker); The Smith-Eslick Cottage Camp (within shouting distance of this marker); Grand Lake (approx. 0.2 miles away); Public Square (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Grand Lake.
 
More about this marker. This is a two-panel marker; each panel is framed and covered with transparent acrylic.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. The Smith-Eslick Cottage Camp
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on February 12, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 152 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 13, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 25, 2024