Eastern Mojave Vegetation Interpretive panel at Cameron Pass.  


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  Colorado, Larmier County, Cameron Pass
Photographed 18 June 2018.

Auto Tourism

Highway 14

The first Highway over Cameron Pass, completed in 1882 but the Cache la Poudre and North Park Toll Road Company, ran more than one hundred miles from Fort Collins to the silver camp of Teller. Travelers paid three dollars per wagon, with additional fees for herd and pack animals, for the privilege of laboring up a demanding, boulder-strewn route. Some stretches were so hard to navigate (especially steep Pingree Hill) they left teamsters cursing in frustration. Opened to free public travel in 1902, the road received much-needed improvements in the 1910s, with a smoother surface and an easier grade carved out by convict laborers. When the road reopened in 1915, two hundred automobiles drive to a celebratory picnic at milepost 109 (about forty miles east of here), motoring with ease over the once formidable route — and heralding a new generation of auto tourism.
The Autobungaloofer, seen here in 1921, epitomized America's craze for auto tourism. Serene mountain towns cleared trees and shrubs to make room for homes on wheels. For those who didn't think to bring the house with them, motels were built, while Mom and Pop made room for convenience stores, gift shops, and bait shops.
As early as 1896 John C. Zimmerman, with help from his wife and four children, built their second hotel, the Keystone. Most of the construction on the three-story, forty-room building, including brickmaking, was done by hand.
Convicts from the state penitentiary in Caņon City completed much of the work in the Cache la Poudre and North Park Toll Road. In 1917 the Rocky Mountain News credited convicts working in the Poudre Canyon with having completed the most difficult work out of some 145 miles constructed within the state of Colorado.
By the 1870s, boom towns Lulu and Teller City, just west of bustling Fort Collins, were established and silver excitement was in the air. The Cache la Poudre and North Park Toll Road was built to provide smooth passage for trade.

Auto Tourism

By 1927 automobiles could drive the Cameron Pass roas all the way from Fort Collins to Walden — about a hundred miles. Toursim soon became a major industry in the Cache la Poudre corridor, with campgrounds and motor courts lining the valley. Ironically, this influx of people compromised the very attractions — solitude and beauty — that drew visitors in the first place. The paradox climaxed in the early 1970s, when developers proposed a ski area atop Cameron Pass to lure the Winter Olympics to Colorado. Local residents joined environmentalists from across the state to defeat the idea, but one element of the plan survived — an asphalt surface for unpaved Highway 14. That brought still more traffic, helping the economy but applying more pressure on the wilderness. The same trade-off confronts communities throughout Colorado, representing one of the biggest challenges of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

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Date and time this page was prepared: 5/10/2024 11:13:51 AM