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A Brief History of Lake City:
Recreation & Tourism, 1915-1954


Lake City's mountain environs offered an array of outdoor recreation that encompassed fishing, hunting, boating, mountain climbing, horseback riding, hiking, tent camping, and picnicking.

Local merchants accommodated sportsmen; for example, Last Chance Livery and Feed Stable advertised "Fine Saddle Horses" and "Special Arrangements for Fishing and Hunting Parties" at the turn of the century.

Lake City Café and Bakery offered to "cook your trout" and packed picnic lunches for visitors.  An early booster club promoted boat racing on Lake San Cristobal.  Within town, diversions included horse and bicycle racing around a quarter mile-circular track built about 1910 at Ball Flats.

Fishing perhaps had the broadest appeal.  Lake San Cristobal, Crystal Lake, Waterdog Lake, Lake Fork River, and Henson Creek promised native, brook, and rainbow trout, some as large as eight to ten pounds.

An editorial in The Silver World and Lake City Times extolled the "dozen lakes and 175 miles of streams - the best trout waters in America.  And the expense is less."*

The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad catered to sportsmen by dropping them off at their favorite fishing holes along the lower Lake Fork.  Trout raising also became a minor industry and local businessmen raised fish in Waterdog Lake and others, for sale to Denver hotels and to the Denver & Rio Grande dining car service.  In the 1950s, local businesspeople built fishing lakes near Slumgullion Pass.

Surrounded by expansive forests, the upper Lake Fork proved to be a hunter's paradise.  Sportsmen were invited to Lake City's "happy hunting grounds" and promised "if you make Lake City your camp headquarters you can be sure of bagging your buck."  Game included deer, elk, bear, bighorn sheep, and wild turkey.**

Uncompahgre Peak and lesser mountains were covered by abandoned mining roads that became hiking trails, routes for trail rides and pack rides, and, later, jeep roads. 

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*    The Silver World and Lake City Times, February 22, 1934, 3.

**   Ibid.
 Town of Lake City, PO Box 544, Lake City, CO  81235.  970-944-2333.  
Canoeing on Lake San Cristobal, from Resources & Mineral Wealth of Hinsdale County by L.A. Vinton & Co. 1895.  Click on image for larger pop-up view.