Local Authors

Local authors tell story of 1926 Horseshoe Inn, dining room girl

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Join local authors Kay Turnbaugh and Lee Tillotson for a talk about their new book, “Rocky Mountain National Park Dining Room Girl: The Summer of 1926 at the Horseshoe Inn,” Oct. 15 at 7 p.m  at the Nederland Community Library. The authors will share photos, including some never before published, and stories from 1926 and today. They also will sign books.

The book is about Eleanor Parker who had just graduated from college in Iowa and rode the train west to work for the summer in Rocky Mountain National Park. She wrote home almost every day, and these letters and Parker’s journal are the basis of this lively account of the young adventurer’s summer filled with moonlight horseback rides, dancing in casinos, visiting other lodges, and hiking to waterfalls.

The book’s  letters and journal entries are from co-author Lee Tillotson’s great aunt, who traveled from Iowa after graduation from college to work at the Horseshoe Inn, one of the long-gone lodges in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a rainy summer, and she had plenty of time to hike, ride horses, and explore the new Park.

Photographs and maps of Parker’s hikes and rides, including many of the long-gone historic lodges and landmarks and sights familiar to today’s visitors, are also included.

Rocky Mountain National Park was just over 10 years old that rainy summer when the young woman from Fayette, Iowa, newly graduated from college with a degree in speech and English and a thirst for adventure, traveled across the country by train to work as a dining room girl at the Horseshoe Inn.

This was the heyday of the romantic and majestic Horseshoe Inn, a rustic but genteel lodge situated in a grand meadow framed by towering peaks. Five years later, in 1931, the Horseshoe Inn was the first of the park’s lodges to disappear in the effort to bring the park back to its natural state.

Turnbaugh owned a weekly newspaper in Nederland for 27 years. She is the author of “Around Nederland,” “The Last of the Wild West Cowgirls,” “The Mountain Pine Beetle—Tiny but Mighty,” and co-author of the second edition of “Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Rocky Mountain National Park, 184 Spectacular Outings in the Colorado Rockies.”

Tillotson is an avid outdoorswoman, a trait she may have inherited from her great-aunt. She has lived in Nederland for 45 years and taught physical education in the Nederland and Boulder areas for 30 years. She and her husband were Student Conservation Association supervisors in several National Parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park.

Together, the authors have published an historical snowshoe guide at Eldora Ski Area and lead tours of the trail once a year for the Boulder History Museum.

The book is available at Nature’s Own and Blue Owl Books in Nederland and Macdonald’s Book Shop and the Estes Park Museum in Estes Park as well as on Amazon.com.

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