Frederick Barlow envisioned the future of Glenwood Springs
Ryan Summerlin December 17, 2007
“His success demonstrates the fact that a man in this country can prosper without money if he deals fairly and directs his efforts with good business judgment.” – biographical sketch of Frederick A. Barlow, Aspen Times Daily, Jan. 1, 1887 Fifty-year-old Frederick A. Barlow never let the fear of the unknown deter him from forging ahead to the future. Born in Massachusetts in 1831, Barlow was a skilled wagon maker with an eye turned to the west. In about 1853, he married Caroline Clark, and together the couple produced six children as they moved from Iowa to Illinois, and finally to Kansas. In about 1882, Dollie, Frederick and Caroline’s eldest daughter, married James Landis. Landis was the first homesteader to what would become Glenwood Springs. Undoubtedly, Landis sang the praises of bounty and opportunity waiting in the new frontier settlement. As he and Dollie returned to Colorado, Frederick Barlow and family pulled up stakes and enthusiastically followed.Although Glenwood Springs of 1882 consisted of “a broad expanse of sagebrush, a few hot springs, and a matchless climate,” Barlow, who had only 60 cents to his name, envisioned future prosperity. In a canvas tent located at today’s Blake Avenue and Seventh Street, he established a hotel. He then expanded to a log structure. The demand for lodgings provided prosperity and allowed Barlow to build a residence and purchase real estate. In 1885, he built a large brick building at about today’s 813 Grand Ave., leasing a portion thereof to Garfield County for use as a courthouse.A frenzied 1887 real estate market prompted Barlow to take another gamble. That year, he began construction of the massive brick St. James Hotel (or Hotel Barlow) at the southeast corner of Eighth Street and Cooper Avenue. As the construction progressed, Barlow vacillated upon whether to add another story to the building. His contractor, Charles Weidenhammer, recalled later that “finally [Barlow] came to me one day and suggested that we shake the dice and see whether we would leave the building as it was or add another story. We shook the dice. I won. And as a result the Hotel Barlow was made a four-story building.”However, Barlow’s gamble did not pay. The Hotel Barlow did not produce enough income to offset expenses. Frederick Barlow lost his hotel to a creditor in 1891.No stranger to politics, Barlow ran in 1888 for the seat as Glenwood Springs’ mayor. He lost to Louis Schwarz in a race which painted the 57-year-old Barlow as “too advanced in years” and “lacking the necessary enthusiasm and snap” to govern a growing community.Religion called to Barlow in the 1890s. He joined the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and for a time served as a church elder in Alamosa. When he returned to Glenwood Springs, he published the Colorado Sentinel, a paper promoting Barlow’s views on scripture and religious prophecy.Glenwood Springs lost a great booster when Barlow died on Oct. 25, 1898. “He was true to himself,” wrote the Glenwood Post, “and therefore false to no man.” “Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.