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.