The Crags Hotel Ruins in Eldorado Canyon, Colorado

(All images by Madeleine Kannan. The ruined Crags Hotel in Colorado)

There isn’t much left today of the Crags Hotel in Eldorado Canyon State Park, but the surviving ruins offer a glimpse back into Colorado history. Almost 100 years after the luxurious retreat was destroyed by fire, the source of the blaze remains a mystery.

Nestled amid the peaks and canyons of Boulder County, within the vast Colorado State Park system, the small community of Eldorado Springs was established around the turn of the 20th century as a resort for well-to-do tourists. Visitors, including celebrities, came in search of the region’s warm mineral springs, and the the Crags reportedly wasn’t the only hotel catering to their needs.

A signboard at the location details its history: “Catch a ride on the Moffat Railroad to the Crags Hotel. A dollar in your pocket in 1908 would buy a round-trip train ticket from Denver. The railroad tracks, above you to the south, are still in use today. You could also drive up “Crags Boulevard,” today’s Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, or even hop on the “funicular,” an ingenious gravity and water tramway traveling up the mountainside.

“If you were here in 1908, you’d be singing, dancing and playing poker at the luxurious Crags Hotel. The hotel’s success was short lived. A fire destroyed the building in 1912. Archaeologists who studies this site discovered significant artefacts of Colorado history. For instance, the rock wall remains provide one of the best preserved examples of retaining walls used in this era.

“It remains a mystery whether arson or nature caused the Crags Hotel fire. Future studies and newly discovered artefacts may tell the full story. On behalf of the past and the future, please help preserve this site. Tread lightly. Move nothing. Play your part in preserving history and let others experience this place as you have.”

Hat tip to Madeleine Kannan.

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