At the end of the last Poudre Canyon post, “Poudre Canyon from Big Narrows to Eggers,” I said I would cover Rugh Ranch and Indian Meadows next. Since that time, I found I had the wrong location for Rugh Ranch. I thought Rugh Ranch was located at Eggers but it really was west of Rustic. So, I’ll get to it in a later post.
If you drive approximately two-miles past the bridge to Pingree Park, you’ll come to Indian Meadows. It is a very large meadow on the north side of Highway 14, at milepost 94. There are a few parking spots at the center of the meadow with a foot path to the north that will take you to the Poudre River. It is a popular fishing spot and a beautiful place to picnic. It also has an interesting history.
Indian Meadows, described by Norman Fry in his book, Cache la Poudre: The River, was a gathering place for Native Americans roaming in the canyon. About the naming of the large meadows, Fry said, “In the River’s upper mountain parks . . . it seemed that the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and the Ute Indians had through the years camped, hunted, and fished. Even refugee Cherokees from the State of Georgia, I was told, had traversed the section looking for a new home. These really were the ‘Indian Meadows’ then!”
Born in England, Fry arrived in Fort Collins in 1888 at age17 on his way to try his hand at ranching in the Poudre Canyon. He worked a variety of jobs in the canyon and had memorable experiences which he later recalled in his book. Fry worked for six-years at the large Indian Meadows Ranch that encompassed over 1,000 acres, including Indian Meadows and the Indian Meadows Resort, which I’ll discuss next.
Continue west on Poudre Canyon Road for just over one-mile and you’ll come to the Indian Meadows Resort, located on the south side of the highway.
Indian Meadows Lodge began in 1928 as a store, with living quarters in the back, and a few small cabins. Motorists could purchase gas along with engine oil, fan belts and other minor-repair automobile parts. According to Stanley Case’s, The Poudre: A Photo History, the original owner and builder was Guy Slonecker, who operated the business until he retired in 1933 or 1934. It went through a number of hands over the next 80+ years.
Below is a series of photographs of the resort from circa 1928, close to when the resort opened, until today.
My guess is that this photograph was taken by Sanborn shortly after the opening of the resort. Notice the gas pump. There isn’t a building yet, just a swing behind the pump.
By 1943, a small gas station is in place, with slightly newer gas pumps. The Indian Meadows sign on the right edge advertises cabins, cottages, and an up to date store, with lunch, candy, cigarettes, and film. Fishing is also mentioned.
If you’ll notice, the main building has been extended on the left side, changing the roof line. The main building went through a number of modifications to add a bar, dining room, and space for live music.
Sometime in the mid-1950s, a “modern” motel was added to the property, on the east side of the main building. You can see the edge of the main building on the right side of the image. This postcard is postmarked 1956.
Above is a photograph of the resort, which I took earlier this month. More recently the resort was hosting weddings and other events but it looked closed to me when I was there this month.
Not far from the Indian Meadows Resort, and on the other side of the road, was the cabin Mark Miller and his family owned. These two images are from the Miller Family Album, which I discussed earlier in two posts, starting with “Mark Miller: Images from the Photographers’ Family Album – Part 1”
With some other buyers, Mark Miller purchased land there based on an agreement with the seller that building cabins would insure their ownership of the land. Traveling up on weekends, materials on board, Miller built the cabin where John Miller, his son, recalls spending the happiest days of his childhood. One big room with a screened porch across the front, the cabin had no plumbing or electricity.
Despite their mother’s fear of the water, the children often went down to the river to fish or skip rocks. None of the children recalls any close calls. In the daytime, whenever she had the chance, Effie, Mark’s wife, set up her easel and painted, and of course Mark Miller, who loved to fish, always had his camera handy in case an opportune moment came along. A tight-knit family, they played card games or Monopoly in the evening by the light of a lantern. Sometimes they sang, as they often did when the family was together.
Sadly for Mark Miller, who had dreamed of someday turning his cabin into an outdoor learning facility for youths, he eventually lost the cabin, and it was torn down during World War II.
Next Sunday I will post a set of important images from the early 1900s, known as the Anderson Postals.