The Kauffman House Museum was built in 1892 and is the only remaining log hotel built in Grand Lake before the 20th Century.
Open daily from Memorial Day through August from:
11:00 am to 5:00 pm
The museum is also open on weekends in September and on special occasions throughout the year.
407 Pitkin Street
Grand Lake, CO 80447
Free for children under 12
Grand Lake Eras
10,000-20,000 years ago
The first Native Americans probably reached the area nearly 20,000 years ago – the latest groups of which were the Ute and the Arapaho. Their use of the park was minimal and seasonal. Ute Indians came in groups of up to 100 from Western Colorado and Utah to hunt, fish, and camp during the summer. The Arapaho came from the east as hunting parties. They left no written language, but their legends continue their legacy.
French & English trappers and traders roamed the valley and canoed the rivers and streams in search of beaver, animals, and fish. They stored supplies in the headwaters of the Cache la Poudre River and followed the trails of the Native Americans and animals through forests of pine and aspen.
Miners moved into the valley in search of gold and silver in 1880. The towns of Gaskill, Lulu City, and Teller sprang up quickly and the towns of Grand Lake, Walden, and Fort Collins helped to supply the miners with their equipment and food. Because there was no equipment to break down the ore, and the quality was poor, the mines were closed and the mining towns disappeared by 1885.
Agriculture settlements east of the mountains needed water to raise their crops. In 1890, they obtained water rights in the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Ditch was begun in the northern peaks. It was hand dug by Japanese laborers, directed by a Swedish engineer. The ditch was finished in the 1930s, the last four miles of the 14 mile ditch being dug with machinery. The scar on the side of Mt. Baker is evidence of this work.
Homesteaders & Ranchers
Homesteaders came to the area and established ranches for cattle that grazed on the rich mountain grasses. Ranchers soon turned to taking in guests to supplement their income. This provided visitors with rustic cabin adventures and the opportunity to help on the ranches. The “Dude Ranch” experience became a yearly vacation for many.
History of The Kauffman House
The Kauffman House is a prime example of an early Grand County residence and tourist hotel. It was built in 1892 by Ezra Kauffman and operated as a hotel until his death in 1920. Ezra’s widow, Belle, and their daughters continued operating it as during the summers until World War II, when it was sold to Henry Rhone in 1946. The Rhones used the hotel to house guests and people who worked for them in their guest house and restaurant business. The house had several other owners until 1973, when the Grand Lake Area Historical Society purchased the house and restored it as a museum.
This hotel, the only remaining log hotel built in Grand Lake prior to 1900, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places because of its log architecture and because its first owner was a typical example of the men who joined the westward movement – drawn by the mining, trapping, fishing and tourist phase of the Grand Lake community and Grand County, Colorado.
The women who lived in Grand Lake at the turn of the century wanted the fine, fashionable decorations people could buy in the city. They furnished their homes by catalog, from newspapers brought up from Denver by stage in summer & from door-to-door salesmen. Today, Grand Lake is a fashionable, artistic enclave at the summit of Grand County.
I enjoyed this museum that I happened upon while shopping in Grand Lake!
More from Grand County…
Shopping at Bob Scott’s Authentic Indian Jewelry and Fine Gifts.
My first breakfast in Colorado!
Travel back to the days of stagecoach travel and pioneer ranching.