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In the late 1800’s a homestead was established on what is now Beavers, and one of the original buildings is still standing along side the Fraser River. In the 1920’s some beaver ponds at the upper end of the ranch and the stream that feeds them, were converted into several more ponds to make a trout hatchery. From these ponds came our three present lakes now stocked with trout each spring.

Earliest of the valley resorts was Sportsland Valley, now Beaver Village, begun in 1940 by Henry Cook.

Henry C. Cook’s family and that of his wife lived on sugar beet farms near Longmont. He and his brother Carl had gone into the gasoline and oil business, but in May 1983, they spent some time in Grand County looking for a small cattle ranch to diversify their interests from the petroleum business.

According the Mr. Cook, “We were unsuccessful in our effort to find a ranch for sale that was suitable so we headed from home. On our way, just beyond Hideaway Park, I saw a sign that read –300 acre trout ranch for sale. I said to my brother Carl, “Let us stop and investigate.” Carl’s reply was, “What the H! would we do with a trout ranch?” We did stop and meet Pastor Frank Garrett, a retired church missionary to China. This property had been owned by his brother who had passed away; and Pastor Garrett was looking after the trout ranch for the heirs of his brother until the ranch could be sold.”

“I obtained this information while Carl remained in the car because he had no interest in a trout ranch. On our way home, while Carl was driving the car and for lack of anything better to do, I romanced as to what could be done with this tract of land, just to see if I could change Carl’s mind as to the possibilities. In doing so, I not only sold Carl on the idea but also sold myself. The following morning we returned to negotiate with the pastor, subsequently purchasing the 300 acre trout ranch which ultimately became Sportsland Valley Ski Lodge.”

“The design of the Chalet was done for us by Edwin Frances, an architect who had done most of the work in Beaver Creek Valley west of Evergreen, Colorado, and also the Harbor Hotel in Steamboat Springs. Our desire was that the building be unusual and outstanding in appearance. The chalet design resulted from ideas I had collected on some trips to various mountain areas. When I conveyed them to the architect his reply was, “We had just had a meeting of the minds”: and a set of complete plans which we eventually purchased from him, excluding any supervision on his part during construction for $300.00.”

“Preparation for construction was started by cutting timber from the property and air drying it for a year. The following year the lumber was planed and made into dimension lumber right on the property. We also used our lumber for the log siding which was planed by a firm in Denver. The construction work was supervised by myself with the assistance of an outstanding Swedish craftsman name Issac Johnson.”

“Our original plan was to operate as a summer dude ranch. Prior to construction, we were persuaded by a Denver ski group and Mr. Poter Wood, publisher of a Denver ski magazine, to design and build accommodations suitable for winter operation. We were told that an amount of money had been appropriated to publicize the newly opened Winter Park ski area. Needless to say, we were convinced that there would be sufficient interest and potential in skiing at Winter Park to support a facility offering comfortable overnight accommodations and excellent meals.”

Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 under History