Wade and Curtis Cabin

Wade and Curtis Cabin taken in 1941
During the early 1940s David Canfield, the Superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park who then supervised Dinosaur National Monument, ordered a survey of the recreational opportunities Dinosaur had to offer. This picture was taken on one of those trips in 1941.

Museum of Northwest Colorado-Downtown Craig

The Wade and Curtis cabin located next to the boat ramp at the Gates of Lodore was built by Jack Langley in 1928 on his homestead. He made it from ponderosa pine logs cut from the Southeast side of Zenobia Peak. In 1933, John Grounds and Jim Crozier conceived the idea of a tourist camp in the Canyon of Lodore. In order to fulfill this dream, they partnered with Jack and rebuilt his cabin where it currently stands, presumably to house guests. John, Jim, and Jack were good friends and all of their families had homesteaded on Douglas Mountain, some starting in the 1870s.

A second cabin was built down river with the same cut and dimensions as the original and they operated “pleasure boat trips” between the two. During the height of operations the tourist camp included horses, a garden, four motor boats, and even a Texaco gas station.
Rex Gill in the Canyon of Lodore
Rex Gill and Jim Crozier made an epic trip on foot through the Canyon of Lodore to take pictures for the tourist camp. They traveled down the Green River on the ice and portaged around the rapids they found.

National Parks Magazine/Reginald Gill

John Wade and Walter Curtis ran the day to day operations at the camp for some of its existence, Curtis was John Grounds’ brother in law and Wade had herded sheep for him. Though the cabin is now associated with them, neither actually owned any part of it. The camp was one of the first tourist operations in the region and attracted people from all fifty states as well as many overseas destination.

In order to create interest in their business, the partners hired a local photographer by the name of Reginald “Rex” Gill to take photos of the canyon country that could be sent to newspapers all over the country. Rex had previously surveyed for the General Land Office in the area and jumped on the opportunity. He took two separate trips, one in 1929 and another in 1933. Jim Crozier accompanied Rex on the second trip where they pulled a sled down the frozen Green River until they encountered the first rapid and traveled on foot overland from there.
Original Advertisement from 1936
This advertisement appeared in the Carig-Empire Courier on September 16, 1936 as an intial price list for the camp.

Craig-Empire Courier

The partners used the pictures taken by Gill to generate interest in creating a national park in the Lodore Canyon, which they believed would also help their business. They worked with the local Lions Clubs in Vernal and Craig and sent pictures to congressmen and senators to get the park service interested. Instead of creating a brand new national park, which the locals had written about as early as the 1920s, Dinosaur National Monument was instead expanded to nearly its present size in 1938.

With the onset of World War II the partners gave up their claim citing gasoline rationing and difficulty proving their right to the land the camp was built on as the primary factors. Eugene Carr, who had also helped run the original operation moved in and may have also have offered sporadic boat tours. By 1945 Henry Smith and his family moved in possibly also offering boat tours and farming.
By 1950 the cabin was being repaired to make it usable as a patrol cabin for the NPS. It was updated with modern flooring and a kitchen and was used as a ranger residence. The cabin served as the primary contact station at Lodore until the completion of the Mission 66 housing and ranger station you see today.
Wade and Curtis in 1951
This photo was take on October 21, 1951 by George A. Grant. The person standing in the door is Earl Cormack and the person on the step is David Canfield.  Grant was the first Chief of Photography for the NPS originally hired by Horace Albright and Canfield was the Superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park, who at the time supervised Dinosaur. The fishing camp theme seem here was most likely staged as the cabin was already being used by the NPS.

NPS/George A. Grant


Last updated: July 14, 2018

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