People who have lived in the Fort Collins, Colorado area have long had a fondness for the Cache la Poudre Canyon. From the earliest time, even before the town was really settled, the canyon attracted hunters, fishermen, trappers, and later, tie cutters, and gold miners. Today, its roads, trails, and the Poudre River provide hours – even days or weeks – of recreation.
Resorts have been a part of the canyon since 1908, when the Poudre Canyon Fishing and Summer Resort was opened, complete with 12 tents, bedding, and a chef. Resorts have opened, closed, changed names, and burned down but there are still resorts operating in the canyon.
In future posts, I’ll share images of the canyon from Ted’s Place to Cameron Pass. Hopefully, many of the images are images you haven’t seen before. Just like travelers since 1922, we’ll start at Ted’s Place, at mile post 121.7, where the canyon road meets the road to Laramie, Wyoming, or now, the junction of CO-14 and US-287. Then we’ll travel the 56.7 miles to Cameron Pass at milepost 65.0.
When E. I. (Ted) and Nellie Herring opened the Poudre Canyon Filling Station on May 25, 1922, it was a small place by today’s standards. Almost immediately, it became known as Ted’s Place, becoming one of the few businesses to earn a place on Colorado maps.
Linda Adams, in Among These Hills: A History of Livermore, Colorado, has an interesting tidbit about the opening of Ted’s Place. She says that Herring not only provided services to travelers but opened the store “to provide meals to the convict [laborers] who were still working on the road through the canyon.”
According to Stanley Case, in his book The Poudre: A Photo History, when the Laramie road was widened and paved in the early 1930s, it was raised considerably, leaving Ted’s down in a hole and hidden from the road. The Herrings built a new two-story facility, putting the second floor at the same elevation as the road, and added the large iconic letters that spelled out TED’S.
Here’s is a great image of Ted’s Place, from a real photo postcard by Mark Miller, circa 1940. Miller was a premier Fort Collins photographer, working from 1914 until his death in 1970. He loved the canyon and used his photography and postcards to justify his frequent trips there. You’ll see his name on many Poudre Canyon images, especially of the resorts. The resorts would sell Miller’s postcards for a nickel, of which Miller got two cents.
Notice the big letters on the front of the building and especially the triangular apostrophe. Also notice the fuel delivery truck in the right side of the image. This is a very sharp photograph, allowing a great close-up of the truck and the gas pumps.
From at least the time of these photos, 1940, until the station closed, Ted’s sold Conoco gas. I scanned the foreground gas pump at a high resolution and, I believe, the last sale was for a total of $3.75 for 28 gallons of gas, or about 13.5 cents/gallon. Great price.
Ted was also the bulk gasoline distributor for Conoco and covered all the pumps on the Laramie Road to the state line, as well as those in the canyon and in the Red Feather Lakes area. He also delivered gas to the mountain construction sites. Ted used his own truck to make his bulk deliveries.
One of the businesses he served was the Forks Hotel in Livermore, at one time owned by Stanley Case’s grandfather. Case tells the story of Herring calling all his customers to tell them of an upcoming price increase from nine to 18 cents a gallon, and suggesting that he come by to fill their tanks and all the barrels they could find. That’s customer service you wouldn’t get today.
This image, also from Mark Miller, has become the iconic image of Ted’s Place – deservedly so. The postcard must have sold well, since you can find copies of it printed on different photo papers from different time periods. As near as I can tell, this image is from the exact same period of time as the first image, around 1940.
There are three automobiles in the photograph. They are a1939 Chrysler or Plymouth (left, with its back turned to the camera), a 1934 LaSalle (getting gas), and a 1933 Chevrolet (on the far right).
I often use the Antique Automobile Club of America forums to identify cars in the images that I use. They were helpful, as always, with these images. One of their members also said this about the gas pumps, “It appears that there is an old ‘glass tube’ type of gas (or kerosene?) pump in the left background of the picture, but the pumps in the foreground are of the newer ‘computing’ type introduced in 1935.”
The night scene image has the awnings rolled up, allowing us a close-up look at the store front. Notice that an attendant is pumping gas for the customer, a time long past. The windows and awning give an idea of the full range of products sold by Ted’s, everything from lunches, film, groceries, cigars, Coke, Goodyear Tires, and Coor’s Beer. They also advertised “I’d rather have a Milk Nickel.” A Milk Nickel was an early chocolate covered ice cream on a stick. Not surprisingly, it was selling for a nickel.
As you can see on the awning, Ted’s Place sold fishing tackle but more importantly they gave fishing advise. The canyon resorts sent word to Ted’s about river conditions and which fly, lure, or other bait was working just then. It was the first stop on your way to a fishing adventure.
This color image almost looks like it was set up for a movie scene. The image was taken in 1958. Left to right, the cars are a 1957 Chrysler, a 1956 Dodge, and a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria, all looking showroom fresh.
After Ted Herring died in 1963, at age 70, the business went through a string of owners. By March 1988 it had been seized for non-payment of taxes, as the sign in the window in the next image shows.
Despite local efforts from historians and preservationists, Conoco destroyed the building, with no warning, in October 1989. A few local residents, still angry after all these years, will not buy Conoco gas.
Case, Stanley R., The Poudre Canyon: A Photo History. 1995.
The Livermore Woman’s Club, Among These Hills: A History of Livermore, Colorado. Revised Second Edition, 2009.