Inside the Chamber: Glenwood Springs celebrating two quasquicentennials in September
Inside the Chamber
Quasquicentennial, pronounced kwos-kwi-sen-ten-ee-uhl, by definition: adj. pertaining to or marking a period of 125 years; noun. a 125th anniversary or celebration marking such an anniversary.
Q. Why would I be writing about such a strange word? A. Glenwood Springs will be celebrating two such celebrations mid-month.
The Hotel Colorado and the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves are hosting a huge quasquicentennial on Saturday, Sept. 15. The celebration will include historical characters in period dress, displays of historic and contemporary photos and art, live music, children’s activities, food and beverage, all-in-all a proper party for two tourism businesses that have stood the test of time.
It’s hard to believe that these two iconic attractions have been in existence for one and a quarter century. Let’s explore for a moment the history of how these businesses became the lures they are today.
Walter Devereux, a Princeton University graduate who started his professional career as an engineer in Michigan, came to Colorado in 1883 to manage the Aspen Smelting Co. There, he achieved great success in streamlining the silver smelting process. After ten years with the company, he left to pursue other interests in the Roaring Fork Valley.
In 1886, Devereux organized the Glenwood Light and Water Co., which supplied services to the town. The following year, he formed a company to develop the hot springs. In 1888, a 500-foot swimming pool, called the Natatorium, filled year-round with water heated to a constant 85 degrees Fahrenheit, was completed, but that was not the end of Devereux’s dream of a world-class resort.
Construction of The Hotel Colorado began in 1891, and its doors were opened to the public in 1893. The building of brick and sandstone was modeled after the 16th century Villa de Medici in Italy and was the area’s first electrically-lit hotel. The hotel was soon a mecca for the rich, famous and even infamous.
Long before white settlers came to this area, the hot springs were well known to the Ute tribe. They named the source spring that flows into both the hot springs pool and vapor caves “Yampah,” which translates to “Big Medicine.” The Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves was first known as Vapor Cave #3 and was developed by one of Devereux’s holding companies, along with the Hot Springs complex and The Hotel Colorado.
It shouldn’t take a quasquicentennial to get folks excited about history or about the geothermal attractions in Glenwood Springs, but it is a great way to celebrate these amenities that make our community the resort destination it is today. I hope to see you at the 125th anniversary party of The Hotel Colorado and Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves.
Lisa Langer is director of tourism promotion for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.