Good bread always popular in Glenwood Springs
Bread was a frontier necessity. It provided nourishment during travel, and camaraderie during communal meals. It fed memories of homes left behind, and provided the anchor for the new homes established in the American West. No meal could be considered complete without a loaf of good bread.While many frontier women baked their own bread, bakeries established in the new western towns helped fill the demand. Although Glenwood Springs’ history does not recount the names of the town’s first bakers, the location of two of the earliest bakeries is known. In 1888, the aromas emitted from bakeries located at today’s 723 Grand Ave. and 722 Cooper Ave. undoubtedly whetted the appetites of many passersby, converting them to customers. Many Glenwood Springs bakeries In the 1890s were associated with grocery establishments. Joe Love and Son and Frank Walter were two who carried bakery goods along with grocery items. F.O. Stevens was a grocer who had purchased the bakery and confectionery of Charles Feist, therefore expanding product offerings to his customers.William Dougan, however, raised the competitive bar in 1899. Dougan completed his building at 727 Grand Ave., and promptly opened a hardware and grocery business. Across the alley behind the store, he built a bakery oven and a flour-storage warehouse. He then implemented the mass production of bread. William Dougan’s Great Bargain Store sold 40 loaves of bread for a single dollar, and each loaf weighed 16 ounces. His competing bakers, Dougan’s ad declared, sold only 25 loaves for a dollar, and each loaf they produced weighed a mere 14 ounces. Dougan invited skeptics to come in and weigh the loaves for themselves.One of Dougan’s bakers was Charles Bigham. Bigham and his family moved to Glenwood Springs at about the same time Dougan established his bakery. In 1901, Bigham was ready to open his own establishment, and did so at 906 Cooper Ave. He advertised “Bigham’s bread and confections are the acme of purity and delicacy,” and that “You can buy them cheaper than you can make them.” Bigham’s competitor was George Heisler. Heisler’s Home Bakery, established at today’s 728 Cooper Ave., was a family-owned business. For nearly 30 years, Heisler, his wife, Sophia, and their children produced bread and pastries. Additionally, their ice cream parlor satisfied many a local sweet tooth. Whether private or commercial, there will always be bakers crafting the perfect loaf of bread – the mélange of flour, yeast, sugar, honey or molasses, liquids and fats, proper heat, and time. Without these brown-crusted loaves, no meal is complete. “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.
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