I’ve written several stories that include the quarry town of Stout, Colorado. (Pioneer Life, a Life of Sacrifice and Sorrow; Hugo Frey – Tales of Adventure from a Native Son; and The Flowers of Bellvue all included connections to Stout.) But what I really long to do is take a walking tour through the area. Much of it is now under the Horsetooth Reservoir. But thanks to several alert readers (Thank you!) I’ve discovered that the place where the hotel stood is still above water on the south end of Horsetooth.
Here’s a short photo tour of what Stout looked like back in the day. All of these photos are from the Denver Library Archive online.
In a quarry, what better material to build a hotel out of than a whole bunch of rocks. You’ll note that the clientele was made up entirely of men. There does appear to be one woman in the photo, though. Can you find her? (You might have to click on the photo to enlarge it.)
This photo particularly intrigued me. I wondered if I could find the same view on Google Maps. I gave it a go, but I’m still not certain where this is. I’m guessing that Hughes Stadium would be just over that ridge if we were looking at this today. But that’s entirely just a guess. (I’m assuming this is facing east because I don’t see mountains in the back ground. But perhaps it was just a particularly hazy day?) [Edit: Here’s a link to Google Maps that shows the approximate area today. I found it thanks to readers Mike Webber and Mark Blacklin. Thanks, guys!]
The area around Stout looked a lot like any other small town in Colorado. It was dry and dusty with prairie grasses encroaching on the roads.
This photo makes clear that Stout wasn’t just a quarrying town. There were ranchers and homesteaders as well.
It’s interesting to note that the Wathen house was built of stone, as one would expect in a quarry town. But the post office and the farm buildings were all made of wood.
A note attached to this photo states “This post office was finally moved to Lake St. in Fort Collins, was later stuccoed and made into a home.” Can you imagine moving a house from where Horsetooth is now all the way to Lake Street in Fort Collins!
The Wathen’s property was also called Spring Canon Ranch.
I did a cursory glance through some old newspapers that mentioned the Wathens and turned this gem up.
Mrs. Wathen and Nora were welcome visitors at Mr. and Mrs. Samuels’ on Sunday. Going up they killed two rattlesnakes, one having nine rattles and a button, and the other having seven rattles and a button. — the Fort Collins Courier (May 20, 1897)
Can you imagine showing up as a guest at someone’s front door and saying, “Hey, thanks for inviting us. Here’s two rattlers’ I killed on our way over. Where should I put them?”
Many of the workers in the quarry were immigrants. Some were able to bring their wives, though it certainly wasn’t an easy life for them. This school house would likely have had students that spoke English, Swedish, and possibly other languages as well.
The hotel is visible in the background of this photo. And the train line is easy to see through the center of the photo. The trains would haul the quarried rock out of Stout to Denver, Chicago, and several other big cities.
In the late 1940s, the remaining buildings in Stout were moved and dams were constructed to create a reservoir for water storage. Water is piped from the headwaters of the Colorado River on the other side of the Continental Divide to fill Horsetooth Reservoir.
The ruins of the hotel are still above water on the south end of the reservoir, and the owner of the property where the hotel once stood sent in this photo of the ruins today.
These ruins are on private property and are not accessible without permission from the landowner.
I really appreciate the work you do! The whole idea of a town existing where there is now a lake completely boggles my mind as well.
I’ve since found out that the hotel and train tracks in the old photos were in a place that’s still above ground. Several alert readers sent me Google Maps links and there’s even a photo of the remains of the hotel today. I’ve updated the post, but you might need to refresh the page to see the changes.
Great article on Stout – with many images I have never seen before!
And I learned a ton. I didn’t realize the town was on the south end of the reservoir. For some reason I thought it was closer to Lory State Park.
Any chance you would share the Google map links to where you can still see the railroad? I’m trying to find out where it was/how you can still get to it. Thank you!
Hmmmm. I think the links were shared on Facebook. I’ll see if I can dig them up.
Found the Facebook post!
If you have access to Facebook, I’d encourage you to read through the comments. There are a lot, but there’s some really great info/photos/links in there. https://www.facebook.com/NoCoHistory/posts/982070185192553
The Google Map links are mostly to the area in general (trying to match up the alignment of the hogback in the older photos with where that would be today via Google Maps). I don’t know if this link will work or not, but it’s one of the better overhead views that shows the old boarding house ruins. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208014563510866&set=p.10208014563510866&type=3&theater
And this doc has more information about the relationship between the train depot and the boarding house. https://www.northernwater.org/Docs/Articles/WN_spring_2001.pdf
Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a wealth of info. I am interested in the old railroad on account of a scavenger hunt of sorts, but I recently got a metal detector so I am starting to really be interested in Fort Collins area history in general. So glad I found your site and Facebook page. Thank you again for the response!
Our dad A D Thompson bought the Spring Canyon Ranch in about 1936 ,we lived there till the dam was completed,all three of us kids went to Highland school.Our dad built the cabins and store that are still there,My Brother started the Marina with hand built wooden boats and then my sister and her husband operated the Marina and store for many years.
Thanks for sharing this info, Al. How did the family feel about the reservoir being built there?
Was the Stout school called the Highland school? I don’t recognize that name.
So, my Mother is Iris Elliott Thompson (my grandpa was Abram Elliott from Timnath, cousin to Alma) and she was wondering what year did Dick and Alma moved into that house? We have the chance to go visit the property tomorrow (11/21/2022) and are looking forward to seeing it. Thank you!
Are you seeing the property on Lake Street? I’d love to know which house it is.
I’m not sure what year they moved in. But a quick visit to the Archive at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery might answer that question. Unfortunately, I think they’re closed on Mondays. But you could drop by on Tuesday.
My dad helped build horsetooth. He always spoke of a little old lady named Annie. She refused to leave her home and would shoot at anyone who got close. She was given the name shotgun Annie. In the end the water was released to fill the lake with her still their. She finally left her home and the lake was filled. I found this to be very sad.
Wow! I’ve never heard this story. That is sad. I wonder what ever happened to her.
Who was the town of Stout named for?
What an interesting question! I never thought about the origins of the name.
Erin Udell did a great podcast on Stout. https://soundcloud.com/wayitwas/stout-a-town-under-water Although I don’t know if she answered that question there, either.
Oh! I may have just found the answer in the June 29, 1882 Fort Collins Courier! It states:
“A party consisting of W. H. B. Stout, of Lincoln, Neb. lessee of the Stout stone quarry, V. M. Came, general agent freight department, Denver, and Mr. A. H. Garfield, made a visit of inspection to the Stout quarry this morning. The party returned to Denver this afternoon.”
Hello, my name is Ross Benson. My grandpa told my dad that the Benson homestead is under Horsetooth reservoir. My dad has been doing some research and can’t find a homestead there under the Benson name. I was wondering if you have run across the name Bengt Benson (formerly Ingmanson)? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Hi Ross. The folks you should get in touch with are the Archivists at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. You can also search through their website for information on the Bensons. I did find an Aaron Benson mentioned in this list of names for an irrigation map — https://fchc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/hm/id/1846/rec/18 But there’s probably other mentions as well (like city directories. Those living in outlying areas were often still included in the Fort Collins directory). If you’re local, you can go in to the archives and search through their holdings for free. If you’re elsewhere, you can still email the archivists and they’ll send links to whatever they might have. https://fcmod.org/research/
My grandmother went to school at the Stout school. She often talked of it. She also helped others with historical information about Larimer County – she is since passed, but my cousin is the keeper of many of the photos from way back. If you ever need more information, she would be a good person for you to connect with.
Thanks, Kelley! If I do more research on Stout, I’ll reach out to get your cousin’s info.