Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Imagine it’s 1890 and you live in Colorado. Your husband has done well in his business so you have the income to take a trip and you would like to escape the heat of the city during the summer. Where might you go?

Or imagine you have skin issues. You’ve struggled with it and have tried everything suggested by your doctor. He’s heard of one more thing that might benefit you.

Both scenarios will take you to the same place--Wagon Wheel Gap.

Situated north of Creede in the northwestern part of Colorado, Wagon Wheel Gap is your destination. Once you arrive by train in nearby Del Norte, you take the stage described at that time in the Colorado Daily Chieftain as a “luxury for the tourist” and make the four-hour trip to Wagon Wheel Gap.

As early as 1877, the hot springs in the area of Wagon Wheel Gap were well-known for curing skin problems. Beyond the health benefits of the springs, the area drew tourists who wanted to fish for trout. While researching the area for my novel A Bride for Darrell, I expected to find a local history focused only on mining. The level of tourism truly surprised me.

By 1890, there were two hotels as well as cottages at the Wagon Wheel Hot Springs resort. According to The Elk Mountain Pilot, the resort hotel boasted a bath house (part of what is today the Creede Colorado Dude Ranch property), hotels, cottages, a casino, as well as fish hatcheries. These hatcheries were vital because of the heavy amount of fishing done by visitors. Each year, one million trout were added to the streams from those hatcheries!
Fishing Party Photo from 4urranch.com/luxurious-colorado-ranch/history/

Image result for vintage photos of wheeler national monument
Vintage Postcard from picclick.com
After it was established in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt, tourists also came to see the nearby Wheeler National Monument, now known as the Wheeler Geologic Area. Around the time it opened, the Palisade Tribune declared it  was "destined to rival the Yellowstone National Park." 

An interesting fact I learned in my reading was that local men came from the surrounding communities to keep the wagon trail to this monument as well as the one to Wagon Wheel Gap in good shape. Once a year, they set aside a day for “Good Roads Day” in the spring to keep the road into Wagon Wheel Gap passable for tourists. (Creede Candle, June 10, 1916) Imagine a community fixing their roads today—incredible!

Cool temperatures, a guaranteed catch of trout, hot springs, duck hunting, and health benefits, Wagon Wheel Gap was the tourist mecca for Coloradans for decades. Wagon Wheel Hot Springs is definitely where I’d go if I could just find that time machine of mine…

Connect with Marisa on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/marisa.masterson.33 or find about her new releases at www.bookbub.com/profile/marisa-masterson.

A sweet, historical western romance in the Proxy Bride series...

If Darrell Dean wants to inherit half of the Silver Queen mine, he needs to marry. Though he doesn't even like the girl, he agrees to marry the local saloon owner's daughter. He doesn't expect the surprise that he receives when a woman interrupts the wedding.

If Willa VanDurring wants to escape the danger stalking her, she needs a new name and a somewhere far away to go. At her guardian's urging, she agrees to marry Darrell Dean by proxy and then immediately leaves to join him in Colorado. She doesn't expect to interrupt his wedding when she arrives.

Can a man who didn't agree to marry the proxy bride and a woman pursued by murderers make a life together? What happens when the danger finds her? In a town with no law, how will she survive?

If you are interested in reading articles about the Wagon Wheel Gap Hot Springs , I suggest two  I found particularly interesting--
  •  https://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org/?a=d&d=EMP19180502-01.2.4&srpos=2&e=-------en-20--1--txt-txIN-creede+hot+springs-------0-
  • https://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org/?a=d&d=CFT18900705-01.2.4&srpos=1&e=-------en-20--1--txt-txIN-wagon+wheel+gap+hot+springs-------0-

Both are from a fascinating archive known as the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. It is free and easy to use.


  1. I hadn’t heard of Wagon Wheel Gap. I loved this post.

  2. Thanks Caroline. I fell in love with the place from my research. The resort sits on different dude ranches now and I would so love to visit them.

  3. Very interesting interview, I learned some things here. The book looks awesome and it sounds really good. Thank you God bless you.

  4. add me to get blog

  5. Hi, I have a question. In the 1890's, the "Way Down East Touring Company" was touring, I believe in Colorado. I believe it was managed by Floris Zonne. Have you ever heard of this touring company?