My last Poudre Canyon post covered Glen Echo. In this post, we’ll continue west two or three miles, stopping briefly at Profile Rock and then spending a good deal of time at the only Poudre Canyon resort on the National Register of Historic Places, Arrowhead Lodge.
Barbara Fleming and I have written about Arrowhead Lodge several times. Some of the information, in this post, comes from our previous books and articles. Much of that information came from Stanley Case’s, The Poudre: A Photo History. The rest of the information comes from the 40+ page application used to get Arrowhead Lodge listed on the National Register.
Profile Rock, around milepost 89, is probably the most recognized rock formation in the Poudre Canyon, used for years as a navigation point in the canyon. Before taking its current name, the whole rock formation was called Arrowhead Point. The lodge may have taken its name from this rock formation, just to its east.
As the automobile gained in popularity, travelers flooded into the Poudre Canyon. More and more resorts and stores began to open to serve the auto-travelers. Arrowhead Lodge was one of them. Arrowhead was built between 1933 and 1935 by Carl Brafford and Brye Gladstone. Brafford had a successful Fort Collins dry cleaning business and supplied the money. Gladstone, a builder by trade, had already opened the Sportsman’s Lodge farther up the canyon, and with his son, built Arrowhead.
According to Stanley Case, the lodge, along with five cabins, opened in 1936.
A number of additions to the lodge make dating early images pretty easy. Here is a list of the easily seen additions, with their approximate dates.
1936 Original lodge opens with five cabins
1940 Water fountain added near entrance drive
1943 West game room addition added
1948 East dining room addition added
In this image, you can see the water fountain, with the west addition barely visible behind it, so we know it was taken after 1943. Since the east addition isn’t present, it was taken before 1948. I have earlier images of the lodge but none of them have the great 1947 Pontiac Woody in the photograph.
Arrowhead must have used this automobile to move guests and supplies around. Though you may not be able to see it in this image, it has an “Arrowhead Lodge” sign on the side and, I believe, a sign on the back that reads “Arrowhead Lodge on Colorado’s Trout Route.”
Melvin Swanson was a Fort Collins photographer who made a series of numbered images of Fort Collins and the surrounding area in the late 1940s. This is image number 88. I’ll probably do a post on his work in the future.
The logs used for the lodge were local logs cut at the sawmill at Chambers Lake.
This image of the lodge clearly shows the two additions, the c. 1943 game room addition on the left and the c. 1948 dining room addition on the right. The fountain is probably turned off and is hidden by the tree in the right foreground. The fountain, built around 1940, was made from local stones and was originally served by a natural spring. Rainbow trout made their home in the circular depression around the fountain.
The sitting room of the lodge shows up on a lot of postcards, many by Mark Miller. Here is an early image of the room, before the c. 1943 game room was added.
The lodge was furnished with handmade furniture and, according to the National Register document, museum quality western artifacts and animal heads. You can see that there are windows on both sides of the fireplace. After the west addition was added, the right window was replaced with a door to the game room.
Here is a closer look at the fireplace. The arrowhead inserted in rocks above the mantle was carved by Stanley Case out of white alabaster, for the original owners. Stanley Case helped with some of the lodge construction and in 1946 Case and his wife, Lola, bought the lodge from the Bradford’s.
This is another image of the main lodge room. You can see the door to the game room addition on the right side of the fireplace. By the way, the mammoth fireplace was built using local rocks and was initially the only source of heat in the lodge building. The dining room, which you will see in the next image, added a second fireplace on the east side of the lodge.
I decided to use this color image to show the knotty pine used on the walls and the red oak flooring. Charles Curs was a Fort Collins photographer, with a studio on East Mulberry Street between 1960 and 1970.
Until the dining room addition was added in 1948, the guests either cooked their own food or had sandwiches and pie at the small tables in the lodge. The new addition, on the east side of the lodge, added the dining room, a kitchen, and a walk-in cooler. The red and white floor tile was added in a checkerboard pattern.
Guests stayed in cabins that were arranged in a semi-circle around the lodge. Below is a diagram from the National Register application showing the layout of the 13 cabins.
The first five cabins were built before the lodge opened in 1936. Each cabin used an Indian related name, apparently to tie to the arrowhead theme. The first five cabins were Wigwam, cabin 9 on the layout; Thunderbird, cabin 10; Navajo, Cabin 11; Hopi, Cabin 12; and Zuni, cabin 13. The size of the cabins varied between 200 and 400 square feet and initially rented for $2.50 per night.
Twelve of the thirteen cabins were completed before Case bought the lodge in 1946. The last cabin, Pawnee, was built by Case in May 1946. It is shown below.
The Cases were able to make a paying proposition of the resort, which during their tenure was a community gathering place as well as a popular tourist stop. Some guests returned year after year. When there, they might be invited to join a community pancake supper, a square dance, a Halloween party, a pie social or a talent show. The lodge room hosted church services as well as films. Now and then there would be a “shivaree” for newlyweds who had come to the resort for their honeymoon.
When it came time for the Cases to retire after 39 years, they sold the property to the US Forest Service. Although the Cases had initially understood that the Forest Service would keep the buildings and use them for official purposes, personnel changes and budget constraints caused a change in direction and the USFS decided to demolish the resort. Dismayed, a citizens’ coalition led by long-time canyon resident Elyse Bliss eventually achieved a National Historic Site designation for the lodge and it was saved, although the cabins are being allowed to deteriorate. Now a summer visitors’ center, Arrowhead Lodge is a friendly stopping place for information, coffee and homemade cookies, and picnicking.