Glen Eden a North Routt social hub since stagecoach days
March 10, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Glen Eden Resort in Clark has a busy summer ahead and needs a new restaurant and bar owner to serve guests and the Elk River Valley.
Jody and Stephanie Mosser, operators of the Glen Eden Family Restaurant and Tavern, confirmed this week that Friday was the last day for the restaurant they have been operating for the past three years in Glen Eden's lodge, about 22 miles north of Steamboat Springs.
Glen Eden Resort front office manager Toni Klohr said the property that can host more than 190 guests has strong bookings for the summer, including two weddings.
"We're trying to find caterers for our brides right now," Klohr said. "We also get a lot of wedding guests for other venues, like Fetcher Barn."
The residential homeowners association owns not only the commercial building but also the fully equipped kitchen and furnishings, making the restaurant essentially turnkey, Klohr added.
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Community gathering place
What many Routt County residents may not fully understand is that Glen Eden has served as an important social hub in North Routt County since the days when gold prospectors rolled up in horse-drawn wagons.
Richard and Nancy Schwanke arrived in the Glen Eden area in 1972 at the ages of 21 and 19, respectively, when the area where Glen Eden stands today was a Christian boys camp. Richard got a job cowboying for the Elk River Grazing Association, and the couple visited Glen Eden because it was the only place they could bathe.
"There was not even a restaurant or a guest ranch," Nancy Schwanke said. "It was a shower house."
In the earliest part of the 20th century, Glen Eden was a stagecoach stop on the road to the Hahn's Peak gold fields, and it has been serving travelers and adventurers ever since.
Jody Mosser said that he opened the Glen Eden restaurant into the teeth of a national and regional recession and that his level of business never met his expectations. When seasonal Routt County snowfall failed to materialize in December and January this winter, it was just one more economic hurdle that was too high for him to clear.
"Five or six years ago (when he was managing Round Mountain Ranch near Clark), there were at least construction guys in the bar at Glen Eden every happy hour," Mosser said.
Evolving from pioneer days
The modern history of Glen Eden was traced to 1940 in an article published in July 1981 in the Steamboat Pilot. That's when Lloyd and Zilda Johnson opened the ranch to guests.
Among the people they hosted were Frank and Vickie Bauder. He was an avid trout fisherman who visited Northwest Colorado annually to enjoy a respite from his busy professional life as a Chicago investment banker.
Bauder had been fishing the Elk River since 1952, before Steamboat Lake ever filled behind its dam.
After Lloyd Johnson died, Bauder purchased the original Glen Eden Ranch and an adjacent acreage that once had been used as a mobile home park.
The development project was expanded to include 14 duplex buildings and four single cabins for a total of 32 units.
The late Steamboat property manager Frank Leonard met Bauder on a fishing outing, and the two became fast friends — and soon afterward, business partners. Leonard took over as general manager of the property and became a partner in the early 1980s.
The Schwankes recall many lively community celebrations at Glen Eden during the Leonard era.
"I remember dressing up for Oktoberfest at Glen Eden, and Halloween parties were always a big thing up there," Nancy Schwanke said.
Richard Schwanke said that in the summers, parties of local river rafters would float from upstream of the Routt County Road 129 bridge down to the first ranch where fences across the river began. Later, they returned to the Glen Eden beach for parties that would last into the night.
He also recalled that the North Routt community turned out in 1987 when Clark celebrated its centennial with a short parade from the Clark Store to Glen Eden.
One legendary North Routt character, who always had his own place in the bar at Glen Eden, was Win Spangler, the manager of the grazing association.
"Win had his own wooden peg to hang his cowboy hat on, and it's still there," Schwanke said.
Steve "Mole" Flanigan, who ran the Elk River Tavern at Glen Eden from 1995 through 2007, agreed that one of the highlights at the restaurant was when longtime ranchers like Dean Look settled into a stool at the tavern.
"Dean Look would sit at the bar, and I'd pour him a beer, and he'd tell fantastic sorties about the old days," Flanigan said.
Another of his favorite regular customers was the late Quentin Semotan — who raised Hereford cattle at Moon Hill Ranch with his wife, Evelyn — known far and wide for the foundation line of quarter horses they established.
When the restaurant offered a special fried chicken sandwich one day, Semotan decided it was his favorite dish. Flanigan hadn't planned to offer it more than just the one day, but Semotan had other ideas.
"He came up and ordered it every Saturday, so we just decided to prep for it one day a week," Flanigan said.
He hopes someone will come forward to run the restaurant again.
"I think the people want that," he said. "There's a need for someone to step up and serve good food and good times."
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com