Devereaux’s dream of Glenwood Springs spa lives on, 125 years later
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Schedule of Saturday events
• 10:30 a.m. — Boy Scouts will officially kick off the day’s event with a color ceremony.
• 10:45 a.m. — Blessing by Ute Elders and community faith leaders.
• 11 a.m. — “Dr. Noise” takes the stage to entertain youngsters.
• Noon — Magic Greg dazzles audiences with his clever magic show acts.
• 1 p.m. — Presentation of dignitaries begins. Among the featured speakers will be Mrs. Melville, the matriarch of the family that owns the Hotel Colorado. She is affectionately referred to as “The Grand Dame of the Grand Dame Hotel Colorado.”
• 1:30 p.m. — Ute Elders and royalty from three Ute tribes will perform historic dances in traditional regalia.
• 3 p.m. — Glenwood Vaudeville Revue will perform their comedy show on the stage.
• 4 p.m. — Free birthday cake and ice cream for one and all.
• 5-7 p.m. — Skywave takes the stage, followed by Chris Daniels and the Kings
• 7-9 p.m. — Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves will provide free access to the Vapor Caves
• 7 p.m. — Glenwood Hot Springs Resort will offer attendees two-for-one access to the pool. (A limted number of tickets will be handed out during event at the Hotel Colorado)
It was back in the 1880s when Aspen silver baron Walter Devereux first dreamed of turning the area of Glenwood Springs north of the Colorado River into a world-class resort and spa.
After purchasing Yampah Springs and the adjacent 10 acres, Devereux brought commercially available electricity to Glenwood Springs when he constructed the coal-fired, steam-driven electric power plant in 1886.
Less than two years later, as Glenwood Springs began to grow, the need for more electricity did, as well.
In 1888, Devereux built the city’s hydroelectric plant driven by the waters of No Name Creek.
“Vapor Cave No. 3 was one of the original sites that had electricity in Glenwood Springs,” current Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves co-owner David Anselmo said.
Also that year Devereux, with the help of his brothers, completed the original hot springs pool known as the Natatorium.
With the birth of the big pool, and the help of two of his brothers and British investors, Devereux’s dream began to take shape.
“Basically, he was trying to make Glenwood Springs an international vacation destination,” Glenwood Springs Historical Society Executive Director Bill Kight said.
With the opening of the Hotel Colorado in June of 1893, and the Vapor Cave No. 3 (Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves) that September, in less than a decade Devereux turned an empty piece of land into an attraction of epic possibilities.
Historic Birthday Bash
Now, 125 years later, the Hotel Colorado and the Yampa Spa and Vapor Caves are still going strong, bringing visitors and tourists from around the state, country and world to the small town of Glenwood Springs.
Reaching the rare milestone, Anselmo and Patsy Steele, owners of Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves, visited Christian Henny, general manager of Hotel Colorado.
“It actually started when David and Patsy approached me and wanted to work together on a community birthday party,” Henny said.
The two businesses wanted to celebrate their history with the community and remind everyone how it all started.
“That’s really what we are celebrating, the legacy of what Walter Devereux brought to the city of Glenwood Springs, and without Walter Devereux there really wouldn’t be a Glenwood Springs,” Henny said.
After nine months of planning and working with other organizations and the community, the all-day, family-friendly birthday bash will kick off at 8 a.m. Saturday with a pancake breakfast in the new community gathering space under the Grand Avenue Bridge along Seventh Street.
At 10 a.m., the Boys Scouts, Ute Indians, the Glenwood Springs Art Guild and Glenwood Springs Historical Society members will usher people over the pedestrian bridge for the continuation of festivities on Sixth Street between the Hotel Colorado and Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves.
The Glenwood Springs Historical Society will offer tours every hour on the hour starting at 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Tours will begin in the Colorado Room at the Hotel Colorado, taking visitors around the hotel, through the power plant (Center for Arts) and then into the Vapor Caves.
Also in the Colorado Room, the Historical Society will showcase artifacts and memorabilia depicting the history of Glenwood Springs, the Hotel Colorado, the Yampah Vapor Caves and Glenwood Hot Springs.
A beer garden will occupy Sixth Street in front of the hotel. Hotel Colorado will be offering hotdogs, pulled-pork sandwiches and ribs.
There will be a kids area in parking lot O across from the Hotel Colorado that will feature all-day activities like cornhole, balloon twisting, giant Jenga, giant ping-pong, a bounce house and an inflatable mechanical bull.
Parking is available on the south side of the river in the parking garage on Eighth and Ninth Streets and at Glenwood Springs Elementary School. Organizers are asking patrons who plan to attend to walk, bike or use public transportation.
Bike racks will be set up in front of summit canyon for those who wish to ride their bikes.
“We’ve been planning this event since November 2017, and after all these months it’s rewarding to see it come together,” Anselmo said. “Celebrating and sharing Devereux’s dream and history with others is how we continue to grow community and make connections that last well beyond a day, and even a lifetime.”
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In the first episode of The Drop-In for winter 2020/2021, we ski with Rose and Kelsey on opening day of Aspen Mountain.