Our History: Glenwood was Roosevelt’s home away from home
The Post Independent this year will celebrate local institutions’ anniversaries — including our own — with the special page on Sundays. The PI in 2017 traces its roots back 127 years, but 125 as a daily, while the White River National Forest looks back on 125 years, and Colorado Mountain College marks 50 years.
As far back as the early 1900s, Glenwood Springs received famous visitors, but none got a warmer welcome than Teddy Roosevelt, president of the United States from 1901 to 1909. According to the Glenwood Post, the town’s primary newspaper at the time and predecessor to the Post Independent, Roosevelt routinely enjoyed coyote hunting in the prairies east of Colorado Springs, cougar hunting near Meeker and bear hunting around Glenwood.
“Roosevelt, born in 1858, visited Colorado seven times during the early 1900s, including Glenwood Springs in 1905,” Lee Perlman wrote in the Rocky Mountain News. “In 1905 he led a six-week hunting trip near Glenwood Springs. This party, which included the interior secretary and close friends, bagged 10 bears. Roosevelt was credited with six of them.”
Known as an avid hunter, it is said that “Teddy Bears” got their name because once on a hunting trip in Mississippi, Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that was trapped. A cartoon depicting Roosevelt refusing to shoot a bear cub shaking with fear ran in the Washington Post on Nov. 16, 1902, and inspired New York candy shop owner Morris Michtom to start making stuffed toy bears and asking Roosevelt to call them Teddy Bears.
Roosevelt would go on to vacation at the Hotel Colorado in the summer of 1905 and became familiar enough with staff to joke with them.
SUMMER WHITE HOUSE?
It was a big story for the Glenwood Post.
“Roosevelt loved to hunt in the White River Forest Reserve and stayed in the Hotel Colorado,” Glenwood Post Lifestyle Editor Kathleen McMullen wrote. “Because of his admiration for the area, and to boost the resort, powerful Colorado Congressman Edward T. Taylor proposed to Congress in 1909 that a permanent ‘Summer White House’ be built in the town.”
Though Taylor hoped to make Glenwood Springs an unofficial stop for all future presidents, the proposal was turned down. However, the publicity helped Glenwood become the state’s best-known resort by 1915.
Attracting tourism to town became an economic driver for Glenwood Springs as early back as the 1900s as businesspeople formed a Board of Trade in 1903, a forerunner to the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce. With the help of these businesspeople, Glenwood became best known as a resort town rather than a mining or farm town, like so many others in the state.
“Some of the Wild West’s most notorious criminals passed through Glenwood Springs, but as tourists, not on ‘business,’” according to a passage in Steven F. Mehls’ “The Valley of Opportunity.” “Tom Horn, killer of more than 20 men and who eventually died on a Wyoming gallows, liked to vacation in the Hot Springs Lodge and take advantage of the healing water.”
One of Glenwood Springs’ most infamous residents, Doc Holliday, came to the spa first as a tourist then moved to Glenwood shortly before his death in 1887. His grave is now among the town’s most popular tourist attractions.
While these pioneers shaped Glenwood Springs’ history over time, few individuals influenced the town more during the early 1900s than Amos J. Dickson.
Dickson officially bought the Glenwood Post on Jan. 1,1898, and would continue as its owner for 35 years, wielding a fair amount of power and holding a conservative standpoint during his tenure.
“On Dec. 27, 1897, for the sum of $1,300, Amos Dickson received all of the equipment, type, furniture, fixtures and patronage connected with the publication of the Glenwood Post located at 201 Eighth St. in Glenwood Springs,” Willa Kane with the Frontier Historical Society wrote in the Post Independent in 2014. “Dickson’s goals for the Glenwood Post were simple: to be a strong community newspaper and the best ever in Garfield County; to not allow partisan politics to influence reporting or his editorials; and to make the welfare of the people paramount to political objectives.”
A Silver Republican, Dickson served as the newspaper’s editor from 1898 to 1931. His first edition, a four-page newspaper recapping the Christmas events of 1897, contained advertisements for Glenwood Springs businesses, advertised unclaimed letters to the post office, printed neighborhood columns for Eagle and Four Mile, and contained an article centered on the wellbeing of a demented woman determined to make her way to the top of Lookout Mountain. At the time, subscriptions to the weekly newspaper were $1.50 for the year, 75 cents for six months, and five cents for a single copy.
Dickson not only reported on the current events in town, but he also started a column entitled “Pioneers I Remember” in which the community founders would document the community’s past. He would go on to report on mining strikes, building of roads, politics, deaths, births, marriages, anniversaries and community news of interest.
In his last will and testament, according to Kane, Dickson left his typewriter to his daughter Geraldine and his most prized possession, his bound editions of the Glenwood Post from 1898 to 1931. His will read, “in the making and publishing of which I have poured out the best part of my life, the ambitions and enthusiasm of young manhood and middle age, and the more sage, considerate and conservative thought and effort of later years, and commend to her a careful and charitable perusal and study of the pages of these volumes as they represent my earnest thought and endeavor to accomplish some good in the circumscribed field in which I have wrought..”
These editions of the Glenwood Post have been microfilmed by the Colorado Historical Society, with microfilmed copies available for “charitable study and perusal” at the Frontier Historical Society and Museum in Glenwood Springs.
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