COBWEB CORNERS: A weekend at Manitou Park, 1882

By Mel McFarland

       Last week I talked about the resort at Manitou Park and what basically happened there. So, what was it like? From a news story in the late summer of 1882, the scene looked quite busy.
       The hotel was a log building of moderate size, with several small guest rooms upstairs and a lounge and dining room on the first floor, as well as the manager's office.
       In this visit, the hotel is described as full, with several tents around it. At night the area is lit by bonfires; hopefully the surrounding forest is not dry! The registered guests include the Bell family (owners of the hotel); a prominent family from Manitou; a newspaperman and his family from Boston; and people from Montreal, New York and Ohio, as well as Colorado Springs and Manitou, about 35 in all.
       A large building not far from the hotel is "The Bungalow" used for billiards, dancing, church and just relaxation. The idea for the building came from a guest who had been a missionary in India. A copy of his notes on his travels and a few pictures are in the hotel's library collection. Residents in some nearby cabins use the hotel for their meals. Several of the guests fish for trout and hunt rabbits, resulting in fresh meat for the dining room. The hotel has a trout hatchery, run by Mr. Thornton, a good friend of Dr. Bell. Not far away is the Bell tent, with an English flag waving near the front.
       A flat area is being made ready for a couple of days of activity. Different types of races will be run by guests and cowboys from the surrounding area. Several thousand spectators may view the activity. The Opera House band from Colorado Springs will be in attendance and provide evening music in the Bungalow on Satur-day night. An amateur troupe provides singing and light banter.
       The hotel itself is filled with collected curiosities, such as a mirror from a Zuni settlement in New Mexico. The mantle on the fireplace is of Mexican malachite, and two divans from Turkey facing the fireplace are gifts from Pasha Arbre who was a guest last summer. A new game called "snake scramble" amuses the ladies. They go into the woods, and when the first snake is spotted they scramble back out. The last one pays for refreshments at the hotel! Often there are 30 to 40 in the game!