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Visiting president found little time for rest

Willa Soncarty
Registrar, Frontier Historical Society
and Museum

On Sunday, May 10, 1891, Benjamin Harrison became the first U.S. president to visit Glenwood Springs. Although his stay lasted less than a day, his visit was remembered many years later.

A Carbondale-area rancher, Louis Lang, is credited for encouraging the president to visit Glenwood Springs. Lang was a personal friend of Elijah Halford, President Harrison’s personal secretary. In corresponding with Halford, Lang sang the praises of the area’s beauty. Soon, a visit to Glenwood Springs was added to President Harrison’s western tour itinerary.

A telegram received April 8, 1891, confirmed to the town that the Presidential Special Train would stop in Glenwood Springs. Preparations commenced at once to honor the president.



Businesses spruced up their buildings by installing new awnings. Boughs were hung, and trees brought in by train were placed in town. Taxidermist E.E. Knight was commissioned to create a gold and silver plate to be presented as a gift to Harrison. Meanwhile, local women compiled a photograph album containing local scenes to be presented to Mrs. Harrison.

At 4:35 a.m. on May 10, 1891, the president’s train arrived in Glenwood Springs. He and his entourage then made their way to the Hotel Glenwood where they received Gov. Routt and Glenwood Springs officials. After a hearty breakfast, Harrison and his family attended services at the Presbyterian Church on Cooper Avenue.



President Harrison intended to dedicate the Sabbath to rest; however, throngs of visitors committed him to numerous meetings and afternoon speeches.

Fatigue descended upon the president. Seeking rest, he left Glenwood Springs late in the afternoon. Through the evening shadows he viewed Glenwood Canyon by train, enjoying the beauty that brought him to Glenwood Springs.

“Frontier Diary” is provided to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.


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