Tackling the greatest driving challenge | PostIndependent.com

Tackling the greatest driving challenge

Willa SoncartyRegistrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum
Photo Courtesy Carleton HubbardMorgan Gavin, left, and Frank Heberling celebrate their successful drive to Fairy Cave on June 3, 1916. The gallon of gasoline consumed by the Ford during this successful climb cost about 8.8 cents. Adjusted for inflation, this same gallon of gas would cost $1.61 today.

Discovered in 1895 and opened to the public a year later, Fairy Cave on Iron Mountain behind the Hotel Colorado was a natural wonder. Stalactites, stalagmites and other beautiful natural formations amazed and dazzled visitors. However, the ascent of nearly 1,400 feet to access the cave was limited to travel by foot or by horseback. That is, until the automobile came to Glenwood Springs. Automobile enthusiasts viewed Iron Mountain as the greatest driving challenge in the vicinity. Although the first auto had chugged into Glenwood Springs in 1903, no one had successfully driven the primitive road leading to the cave.However, four determined and enterprising auto lovers attempted to be the first to drive to Iron Mountain’s summit. On a day in late May 1916, Frank Kimball, Dave Raynard, Charles Hickman and Mrs. Frank Kimball began the two-and-a-half-mile drive up the mountain. As their Dodge automobile climbed the hill, a large drop-off along the road caused concern. To keep the car from slipping into a gulch, the party dug a trench about 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep for about three-quarters of a mile along the road. Thanks to the effort, the party did reach the cave building. The Kimball-Raynard-Hickman party may have been the first auto travelers to Fairy Cave, but they were soon not the only. On June 3, 1916, Morgan Gavin, accompanied by Frank Heberling and Lamar Ikler, drove a Ford auto to the Fairy Cave building. Capitalizing upon the previous party’s hard work, it took the three only one hour and a single gallon of gasoline to make the climb. By foot, horseback or car, the Fairy Cave was now accessible to all.”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, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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