By Sue Abbott Schneider with a lot of help from Jan Gueswel

It was recently announced that the resort previously known as Columbine Lodge will soon become Riverside Colorado.  I’m sure we’ve all noticed the work being done on the site, and I for one wondered what was coming.  According to a press release and request for support, “The Mishawaka is proud to announce, Riverside Colorado, formerly the Columbine Lodge, is starting an exciting journey reimagining itself as a camping experience.  Riverside Colorado is set to redefine Colorado vacations in the Poudre Canyon with diverse accommodations, including camping, tiny homes, cabins, and more. We’re committed to sustainability and enhancing the canyon’s experience for visitors and residents alike.”

The area known as Poudre Park was originally homesteaded by Thomas Farrel in 1911.  He proceeded to take out a large loan on the property and when he failed to meet his obligations (which seemed to happen a lot) the bank sold the property to C.R. And I.N. Kite who then sold it to John H. Story in 1919. He proceeded to subdivide and plat 40 acres west of the current Columbine Lodge and he is the one responsible for naming the plat Poudre Park.  Things didn’t work out the way he had planned, and the entire original homestead was sold to the Columbine Ranch Company in October 1923.  The main investors were from Ft. Collins (Harris Akin, George Shaw and L.C. Moore) who quickly subdivided the land which resulted in three resorts, a school, a sawmill, a fire station, a church and 87 residences.  Only Columbine Lodge remains of the resorts.

The original Columbine Camp (soon to be known as Columbine Cabins) started in 1928 or 1929 and was built by Archie (“Bop”) Jordan, a Fort Collins grocer who owned Canon Avenue Grocery at 426 Canon Avenue in Fort Collins.  He and his wife Leona ran the resort successfully and were known for their hospitality.  In 1930 they advertised free picnic grounds and touted a store and lunches. In 1934 their offerings expanded to “saddle horses and ponies, cabins, fishing and the best in fountain service” in addition to the store and lunches.   By 1939 they offered “clean housekeeping cabins of one to four beds, electric lights, showers, dining room, store, gas station, saddle horses, fishing, beautiful grounds-all at reasonable rates.”  The lodge was added on to and expanded throughout the Jordan’s ownership.  The resort ads exclaimed, “Rest and Relax with Us!”

There are many stories of church groups, fraternal organizations, and youth groups staying at the resort.   In the July 24, 1930, Fort Collins Express Courier an entire column entitled “Columbine Camp” listed all the visitors that had come to stay at the resort, including an extended family from California, Arizona, and Illinois whose son was seeing his father for the first time in 29 years!  Some folks would come for the weekend, but many stayed for 2 weeks.  That same column included “The members of the German Congregational Church and 276 theater operators of Northern Colorado enjoyed their annual picnics at Columbine camp Sunday.  The two groups held an impromptu ball game which was won by the operators.  The winners were then challenged by Columbine camp guests, the challengers getting the lead and keeping it.”  That seems like a lot of theater operators and an awful large group!  “Bop” must have been a real ball lover because he also sponsored a softball team (men not women) in Fort Collins called the “Columbine Cabins” who played against teams from Ted’s Place, Northern Hotel Barbers, the Great Western Sugar Factory and others.

During the 30s and 40s the cabins were sometimes full-time rentals. Carl Gueswel’s family lived in one of the cabins in the early 40s, and another early resident lived in a 2-bedroom cabin in 1944 for $23 a month.  The cabin was rustic but did have running water.

The Jordans sold the business in 1946 (which was the year a lot of the resorts up the canyon changed hands) and it went through a succession of owners through the years including Lloyd and Donna Mae Karr, who applied log siding to the outside of the store and built some additions, Earl and Elsie Cox (who purchased the resort in 1955) Douglas Winslow, Mr. and Mrs. Newell Larson and Don and Juanita Harmes.  In May 1955 the Cox’s advertised that “Columbine Cabin Camp (Columbine Lodge)” was “under entirely new management” and had been “completely redecorated, serving delicious sandwiches-short orders, home made pies and cakes, groceries, meats, gas & oil-fishing tackle”.

There were others who ran the resort at various times, including in the 50s when May Lindsey (she was known for her indelible cream pies), her daughter Joyce was the waitress and her twins Phyllis and Mike washed dishes.   Meals could be eaten on the screened in front porch or in the dining room on the west side of the lodge.  I came across one interesting ad in the August 3, 1959 Coloradoan “George Mauk-Trade: a good cabin at Columbine Lodge for what have you”.  Sounds like a deal!

In the 1970 Poudre Canyon Directory the Columbine Lodge (as it had come to be known), advertised “fresh home-made pie, eleven clean furnished housekeeping cabins-some modern, a café, groceries, playground, fishing supplies, modern trailer spacing, and Standard gasoline (although they switched to Texaco by 1975)”.  In 1974 Glenna Fry and Gib Whitlock made modifications to the lodge and added moss rock on the outside.  In 1980 they advertised “housekeeping cabins-modern and rustic, modern trailers, campground, groceries, gas, fishing licenses, fishing tackle and a game room.”  They ran the business for 27 years and sold it to Max Arment who then sold it to Mike Jensen.  He and his mother Becky ran it as the Rusty Buffalo Campground until the most recent sale.  Despite the changes through the years, it seems the mission has remained much the same.

“Where You Can Rest, Fish and Play”

Images from the collection of Sue Schneider.