Mather oversaw Hot Springs’ details
“The man who occupies the first place seldom plays the principal part.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Walter B. Devereux was the architect envisioning the development of Glenwood Springs. By studying the town, he knew exactly how to design its water and electrical systems. He knew how to develop the hot springs into a world class spa, and that a first rate hotel – the Hotel Colorado – would bring wealthy tourists to the new resort. Devereux had the ability to bring investment capital to all of these ventures. However, Walter Devereux was only one man. He had vision, engineering expertise, youth and financial connections. What he did not have was time to plan as well as to build. To see to the details of building, he and the Colorado Land and Improvement Co. brought on board a brilliant engineer possessing an equal vision and the energy to pursue the smallest of details. This engineer was Mason Whiting Mather.Mather was born in Binghamton, N.Y., on Aug. 21, 1837. At a very early age, he mastered the science of mechanics. His first work was with a steamship company. During the Civil War, Mather enlisted with the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of first assistant engineer.With the end of the Civil War, Mather began constructing municipal water works for cities and towns across the country. In 1883, he relocated to Aspen. Along with fellow engineers Devereux and George Henry Hewitt, Mather worked to engineer and build an ore-sampling plant. He became chief engineer for the Aspen Smelting Co. and oversaw the construction of Aspen’s water system.Mather began his work with the Colorado Land and Improvement Co. in early 1888. His first project was to construct Glenwood Springs’ water system. His correspondence often contained drawings and details of fittings and valves required for the project. If these parts did not exist, he invented and had manufactured his own. For his successful heading of the project, Mather replaced Devereux as the Colorado Land and Improvement Co.’s general superintendent in August 1888. However, Devereux retained his position as the company’s general manager. Every construction detail for the stone bathhouse, hydroelectric plant, and vapor cave No. 2 was overseen by Mather. He was a man who protected and spoke for his company’s political interests, accomplishing both with eloquence and, when necessary, a quick wit. Maintaining his personal privacy, however, was paramount.The Hotel Colorado’s opening in 1893 marked the end of significant building by the Colorado Land and Improvement Co. With his work completed, Mather left Glenwood Springs at about this time. He died in Alameda County, Calif., in 1912.”Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.
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