Thursday, September 26, 2013

The short and rocky life of The Rocklands


It has been attributed to Mark Twain, but he likely lifted it from others.

Life is short. Break the Rules.

Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY.
Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably
And never regret ANYTHING
That makes you smile.

"For 31 years, Palmer Lake could claim one the finest resort hotels in Colorado. Hundreds of guests from around the country checked in during the season to spend a weekend or enjoy a longer summer vacation at the Rocklands Hotel. Its visitors choose among a variety of local activities: attending session of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua or other events held in the Glen Park Auditorium; hiking; fishing; playing tennis; riding horses; taking excursions in horse-drawn carriages; and participating in entertainments arranged within the hotel," wrote Daniel W. Edwards in his Occasional Paper No. 4 "The Rocklands Hotel at Palmer Lake."
Dr. William Finely Thompson had the idea of marketing Palmer Lake as a health resort as early 1884. Tuberculosis (TB) or "consumption" as the disease was then known, was widely treated in high altitude areas such as Colorado and Switzerland and the good doctor (and dentist) established the Colorado Hotel and Sanitarium company whose purpose, according to records from the Colorado State Archives,  was to build and operate a hotel and sanitarium at Palmer Lake.
By the fall of 1889, The Rocklands was built with borrowed money. The original plan called for building 20 cottages in addition to the hotel. But by the time the hotel opened, Thompson and Dr. Thomas Gaddes, a dentist (who quickly earned an M.D. at the University of Denver to qualify him) was brought in to serve as superintendent of the Palmer Lake Sanitarium, had little borrowed money left to complete that aspect of the project.
"Limited available evidence indicates the sanitarium neither attracted many patients, nor was it a financical success. In the spring of 1890, Dr. Thompson was unable to make payments due on the promissory notes he signed, and his debts by then totaled thousands of dollars. He and his family departed Palmer Lake and moved to New York in August. Dr. Geddes, who must have known Dr. Thompson's dire financial condition, left Palmer Lake that June to spend the summer at Steamboat Springs," wrote Edwards, in the paper cited earlier.
The Rocklands went through a string of different owners in the next few years, with varying degrees of success.
E.A. Tunnell ran the hotel for nearly three years, and later operated the Broadmoor Hotel and Casino.
Under E.A. Tunnell's direction, at least the dances were well-recieved. For example:
"The (Rocklands) hop Saturday night was almost too well attended. The parlors and verandas were full and dining room, which is used for dancing, was not large enough by half for the occasion. The young ladies wore white organdies and other light fabrics. The costumes of the gentlemen varied from golf to bicycle suits, blue coats and white duck to full black dress suits," according to the Rocky Mountain News of August 8, 1897.
"The Rocklands continues full of contented people. Why not? They are the most comfortably lodged and well fed, all the luxuries of the Denver and Colorado Springs markets are daily shipped in and a first-class chef prepares it."
But despite times of great popularity, owners came and went.
Success at The Rocklands waxed and wained.
The end came with a bang.
"Mrs. Lillie E. Hill was 35 years old, divorced, with three children. She had been a music teacher in Illinois, and was managing a rooming house in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in January 1920. Lillie had just signed a deed from a Denver real estate firm to take over The Rocklands, even though it was the end of August. The hotel normally closed for the winter by October 1, but Lillie may have intended to keep it open all year," wrote Edwards.
"Mrs. Hill and her three children arrived at Palmer Lake on August 31 to take charge of The Rocklands Hotel. So it was on the evening of September 2, 1920, Oliver, Mildred, and Mary Hill went down to the basement of The Rocklands, either to light a water heater or make some adjustment to the generator. They carried a candle or kerosene lantern to make their way in the darkness. The youngsters probably knew nothing about the hotel's lighting system and did not realize the risk they were taking. The instant they drew near to the lead tubing pipes or gas tank there was a violent explosion:"
The Colorado Springs Evening Telegraph described what happened.
"The Rockland Hotel, the oldest hostelry at Palmer Lake,  23 miles north of Colorado Springs, was totally destroyed last night following an explosion at 8:30 o'clock of the acetylene lighting system that shook the entire village and could be heard for miles. Oliver Hill, 18, Mildred Hill, 14, and Mary Hill, 10, children of the proprietor, Mrs. L.E. Hill, who only took over the hotel on Tuesday, were severely burned by the blast from the gas tank. The explosion cause by the children entering the gas room in the basement with a lighted flame where a leak in the system caught the flame and in a second the big frame structure was rocked by the blast. Flame started at once and in a few minutes the building was in a blaze throughout the four stories. Volunteers from the village and surrounding cottages saw the futility of attempting to save the building and concentrated their efforts on protecting property nearby. which was showered with sparks."
Astoundingly, there were no fatalities and the children escaped the blast, and were treated immediately. Thus, ended the short and rocky life of The Rocklands Hotel of Palmer Lake.




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Turning the radio off on my way in


“9/11” of course, is shorthand for four coordinated terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda, an
Islamist extremist group, that occurred on the morning of September 11, 2001.
The attacks killed 2,977 people.
A dozen years later, nearly every American can recall what they were doing that morning, and has some sort of story.
Maybe not profound, or inspiring, or perhaps even interesting, the stories mark the watershed moment for their owners.
Like many days, today for example, my experience started when I hopped in the car, and headed to work at our office in Woodland Park.
Editor Donna Richards was on vacation that week, and the lead reporter at the time, Charles Jones, was charged with putting together the paper that morning.  Usually, both before and after —even today,  I listen to the news on the radio on my way up the Pass.
But for some reason that day, I snaked my way up U.S. 24 in silence.
It is odd, but I remember John Shubin, who was in charge of publicity for "Cruise Above the  Clouds," was scheduled to meet me that day to go over the upcoming event.
When I arrived at the Courier, at about 8:15 a.m. in 2001, it was surreal how subdued and troubled everyone was. Still completely in the dark, I sensed immediately that something was terribly wrong (but until that moment of arrival, was clueless).
In the days and weeks, and now years, that followed, everyone develops their own reactions, opinions, emotions, and understanding of what that day means.
I recall talking later to my Dad about that, and the similarities of his recollection of the attack on Pearl Harbor, many years prior.
"Before, with Pearl Harbor, we were gathered around, trying to figure out what was happening by listening to a car radio."
But this was different.
"Much more terrifying and real," he pronounced. "I saw the planes hit the building, I saw people leaping, I saw the building drop. I saw them dying."
Since, I have talked to a few who were there in New York, and in Washington, and in planes kept in the air, and others who went there shortly after to help.
I saw the whole experience change people, and it probably changed me.
Todd Vess, a fellow publisher at the time at the Windsor Beacon, was at a conference in Washington then. I recall him telling me later, that what he saw that day, prompted him to scrap the journalism gig, and become a firefighter.
Since that time, locally we have been through the worst fire in Colorado history, and then a worse one, and then another. In the Pass, the guardrails are still choked with debris from a killing flood and slide. We endure wars in the Middle East, theater shootings, correction official assassinations, campus evacuations, and the threat of even worse. But endure, we do.
On this anniversary, 12 years and counting, it is odd that I run into to Vess, once again, as make arrangements to bury my dad. Vess is still a firefighter, and a part-time funeral director,  and we all are still changed.
I plan to turn my radio off on the way in today, when I hop into the car and head for Woodland Park.  We have 'Cruise Above the Clouds' story and photos in this week's paper.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Long-time Dolores resident Wayne Carrigan dies


Everett Wayne Carrigan, long-time resident of Dolores and former Dolores Volunteer Fire Department Chief, died Tuesday night at Windsor Healthcare in Windsor, Colorado. He was 84 years old.

Carrigan was born November 15, 1928, and grew up in the Craig and Meeker area on his father's homestead near Thornburg, (on Morapos Creek) in Rio Blanco County, Colorado. He graduated from Meeker High School and attended Colorado State University, where he recalled sleeping in the Field House in 1946, with a student influx at the school following the end of World War II.

He worked first as diesel truck mechanic in the Detroit, Michigan, area for what he called "Cornbinder" or International Harvester, and in Idaho, Grand Junction, Montrose and later as an auto mechanic in Dolores and Cortez at Kinkade Chevrolet and Keesee Motor Company (among other places). For many years, Carrigan also operated a tow truck for area garages and retrieved damaged and broken-down vehicles on area roads and over the embankments, all over the Four Corners area.

He served two years in the United States Army during the Korean conflict, stationed much of that time at armored tank schools in Fort Knox, Ky.,  and locations in Japan.

Carrigan was married to Patsy Jewell Loveday, of Middlesboro, Ky., on May, 4, 1957, and they have been constant companions since, recently celebrating 56 years of marriage together.

Carrigan was active in town and school organizations, and attended events involving his four children, all of which graduated from Dolores High School, and served on boards and commissions including the Dolores Town Board and Dolores Fire Protection District.

Survivors include his wife Pat, and his four children and their families: Elaine and Tom Andersen, and their three children, of Fort Collins;  Rob Carrigan and his wife Niki Miscovich, and their two daughters, of Colorado Springs; Keith and Angela Carrigan, and their two children, of Bayfield; and Denise Carrigan, of Nucla. He was preceded in death by his father and mother Owen and Cecil Carrigan, his two brothers Cyril (Stub) and Bill Carrigan, and his sister, Evelyn Kruger.

A graveside service will be held Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 10 a.m. at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver. The family suggests memorial donations be made to Dolores Volunteer Fire Department, PO Box 599, Dolores, Colorado, 81323-0599.



Monday, September 2, 2013

Dropping names before the Yankees were strong





It is weird, but I think I ran into Rick "Goose" Gossage when walking the dogs today. 
He was jogging, but said "Hello." 
I thought about legacy, coincidence, high-powered names and old-time baseball. I didn't have my Yankee hat on, and the dogs didn't recognize him, or if they did, they didn't realize he was in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
So much for dropping names.
Long before the Yankees were strong, Carrigan was a household name in Boston, Maine, and all over New England. 
Bill "Rough"Carrigan was "deadball era" catcher and played 10 seasons for the Boston Red Sox. In the middle of the season in 1913, he replaced defending World Series manager Jake Stahl as a player manager. Later, he returned as Boston's manager in 1927 and stayed until 1929. Carrigan was fairly small for major league baseball, only about 5 foot, 9 inches, and weighed about 175 pounds.
"In the spring of 1906 Carrigan was signed to a Red Sox contract by Charles Taylor, the father of Red Sox owner John I. Taylor. Carrigan joined the struggling Red Sox directly in the middle of the season, immediately catching the likes of Bill Dinneen and Cy Young," according to Mark Amour, for the SABR Baseball Biography Project.
The next few seasons established him as a reliable contributor on the field and in the box. 
"In July 1913 the Red Sox were grappling with a series of injuries, fighting among themselves, and limping along in fifth place. Team president Jimmy McAleer fired manager Jake Stahl just months after his World Series triumph, and replaced him with his 29-year-old catcher. Carrigan liked Stahl, as did most of the team, and was reluctant to take charge of a team filled with veterans, many of whom were just as qualified for the job as he. McAleer persuaded Carrigan to take it. The Red Sox were a team fractured along religious lines, as Protestants like Tris Speaker, Joe Wood, and Harry Hooper often crossed swords with the Catholics on the team, including Carrigan," says Amour.
"Smoking Joe" Wood began his baseball career on town teams in the Colorado San Juans, playing for Ouray teams in Telluride, Rico and Silverton, before his outstanding major league run.
"The well-mannered Carrigan earned the nickname 'Rough' for the way he played. He was a well-respected handler of pitchers, and had a fair throwing arm, but it was his plate blocking that caused Chicago White Sox manager Nixey Callahan to say, “You might as well try to move a stone wall.” On May 17, 1909 he engaged in a famous brawl with the Tigers’ George Moriarty after a collision at home plate, while their teammates stood and watched. He had a fight with Sam Crawford a couple of years later, and maintained a reputation as someone who would not back down from a confrontation," according to Amour.
After he replaced Stahl as manager, he led Boston to a second-place finish in 1914 and then, two world championships in 1915 and 1916, stacking up an 8–2 record as a manager in World Series play. Until Terry Francona duplicated the feat in 2007, he was the only manager to have won two World Series titles with Boston. Babe Ruth called Carrigan the best manager he ever played for.
"The most important event of the 1914 season was the purchase, at Carrigan’s urging, of pitchers Ernie Shore and Babe Ruth from Baltimore of the International League. Although Ruth gave his skipper a lot of credit for his development as a player, Carrigan was humble in his own assessment: “Nobody could have made Ruth the great pitcher and great hitter he was but himself. He made himself with the aid of his God-given talents.” Old Rough did allow that his protégé needed quite a bit of discipline, and Carrigan was there to provide it, even rooming with Ruth for a time. Carrigan caught Ruth in his pitching debut, on July 11," wrote Amour.
"In early September 1916, Carrigan announced that he would be leaving baseball at the end of the season. He had actually wanted to quit after the 1915 Series, and had so told owner Joe Lannin, but his owner talked him into the one additional campaign. Carrigan later wrote, “I had become fed up on being away from home from February to October. I was in my thirties, was married and had an infant daughter. I wanted to spend more time with my family than baseball would allow.” He retired to his hometown of Lewiston and embarked on careers in real estate (as co-owner of several movie theaters in New England) and banking. A few years later he sold his theaters for a substantial profit and became a wealthy man."
He returned home to his banking career, eventually becoming president of People's Savings Bank in Maine. In 1946 he was named to the Honor Roll in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1968 was named to Holy Cross College's Hall of Fame, and in 2004 named to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. "Rough Bill" Carrigan passed away in a Lewiston, Maine, hospital in 1969 at the age of 85. 
Today, it occurs to me, that legends and names are relative. So much for dropping names.
Our name is written in the dirt alongside the plate. 
But the umpire can sweep it away — the next time there is a close call at home.

Photo information: 
Photo 1: 
Cy Young, Jake Stahl, Bill Carrigan and Michael T. McGreevey, Boston Red Sox Spring Training, 1912.
photo 2: 
Babe Ruth, Jack Barry, Bill Carrigan, and Del Gainer of the Boston Red Sox