A Brief History of Lake City:
Recreation & Tourism, 1915-1954
1950s to 1970s: Tourism Infrastructure & Promotion
Meeting the demand for modern conveniences, 24-hour electricity became available in the mid 1950s, enabling the local grocery store to stock frozen foods and soda fountain at the drug store to serve ice cream confections.
In 1950, the Spruce Lodge opened at 317 - 319 Silver Street, two units arranged in courtyard fashion with an adjacent drugstore that sold sporting goods, fishing licenses, ice cream sodas, and packaged liquor. The Crystal Lodge was developed by Roy Pray two miles south of the town in 1952. The Elkhorn Lodge opened in 1957 in the Merchants and Miners Bank with a dining room and "cocktail restaurant" downstairs and guest rooms above.* Lee's Log Cabins were built 1953 - 1954 at 625 - 727 Gunnison Avenue.
The Chamber of Commerce organized in 1953, establishing an office in the Silver Street commercial district in 1973. The Chamber promoted tourism by publishing brochures and tour maps that touted scenic drives, Alferd Packer "massacre site," trail rides, pack trips, hunting, fishing, prospecting, and "jeep trips over the top of the world."
Four-wheeling tours to remote "ghost towns" such as Sherman, Carson, and Rose's cabin became a favorite past-time for Coloradoans and out-of-state visitors, fostered by a post World II surplus of army jeeps. Lake City visitors jeeped over mining era roads to Silverton and Ouray; the route is now dedicated as the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway.
New businesses opened serving summer tourists, sportsmen, and year-round residents, including the Log Cabin Cafe, Frank Slater's Sport Shop, and Lake City Bowling Alley.
Construction of visitor lodgings continued through the mid 1960s. The Silver Spur Motel opened in 1964 at the northwest corner of Gunnison Avenue and Third. Ambury Smith of Texas constructed a 28-unit motel, which opened in 1965 as the Western Belle Lodge, named for the Belle of the West Mine in the Galena District. The following year, Smith added another 28-unit section to the Western Belle and Carl White opened the Broadaxe bar and restaurant immediately to the south.
By 1970, tourism-related constructed had slowed. Since then, little tourism related development has occurred except for two recreational vehicle parks - Henson Creek RV Park at 101 South Gunnison Avenue and Highlander RV Campground at 100 - 130 Henson Street. Construction of summer homes has continued uninterrupted.