Settlement of the area began with James Landis, soon followed by others seeking their fortunes. In 1882, town founders Isaac Cooper, John Blake and others purchased Landis’ property for $1500 and formed the Defiance Town and Land Company.
That same year Landis married Dolly Barlow; her brother Fred would later open the town’s first hotel, restaurant and ran the first post office. Barlow led the way, followed by a string of lodging entrepreneurs hoping to capitalize on the need for accommodations in this growing town. It was because of Cooper’s wife Sarah that the name Defiance was eventually changed to Glenwood Springs, after her hometown of Glenwood, Iowa.
Isaac Cooper joined forces with Walter Devereux, a wealthy mining engineer, to create a world-class spa and resort. Renowned Austrian architect, Theodore Von Rosenberg was hired to design structures that rivaled the castles of Europe. In 1888, the bathhouse at Glenwood Hot Springs Pool opened and in 1893, the Hotel Colorado welcomed its first guests. The railroad arrived in Glenwood Springs in 1887, just in time to bring wealthy travelers to the resort spa. Cooper, though ill at the time, was aboard that inaugural ride on the Denver & Rio Grande as it arrived in Glenwood Springs to fanfare.
Also, in 1887, John Henry “Doc” Holliday arrived in Glenwood Springs hoping the hot springs could cure his advanced tuberculosis. While in town, he practiced dentistry, dealt and played cards in Glenwood’s gambling halls. Doc died in November 1887 at the Hotel Glenwood which burned to the ground in 1945. Doc Holliday is buried in Linwood “Pioneer” cemetery. Also buried there is Harvey Logan aka Kid Curry who once ran with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s gang.
In 1899, Senator Edward Taylor kicked off a road-building project that included construction of a single, dirt lane through Glenwood Canyon. The road, called Taylor State Road upon completion, was the first continuous road connecting Denver with Grand Junction.
Meanwhile, the Hotel Colorado was gaining a reputation as a premier hotel among the wealthy. President Teddy Roosevelt referred to it as the Western White House when he took up residence there during a three-week hunting trip in 1905. As Europe and the U.S. became entangled in WWI, Glenwood Springs experienced a decline in tourist activity that was made even worse when prohibition was enacted in 1916.
Explore all of the historical things to do, learn and see in Glenwood Springs with a modern twist; there is something for everyone and a new adventure to be had every day! For more Glenwood Springs history, visit the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and Frontier Museum.