A Brief History of Enos A. Mills, Continued
By the time he was 35, he could boast that he had had a campfire in every state and territory in the Union, including Canada and Alaska. Often he traveled alone, occasionally he would travel with people he met along the way. He had never known fear of the wilderness, and was never attacked by a wild animal, so he had no need for any weapon heavier than his hatchet. When he could not readily observe animals in their habitat, he inquired amongst those who had hunted and trapped them. Enos often took notes of his observations on any topic of interest, from zoology, botany, geology, to meteorology. In 1900, Enos and his cousin Rev. Elkanah Lamb took a steamship to Europe and toured through France, Italy, and Great Britain.
In 1901 Enos bought the Lamb Ranch from Carlyle Lamb, and in 1904 changed the name to Longs Peak Inn. he guided people up Longs Peak and the surrounding area on nature walks. Though these became quite popular he preferred small groups, especially children who were so open to new ideas. Unlike most resorts, he focused his guests' attention on the natural world. Sitting at the base of Longs Peak, in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, he did not want them distracted with the trappings of city life. In the lobby of the Inn he did not allow smoking, drinking, card playing, or music. (What one did in one's room was one's own business.) A hotel with all of these amenities could be had anywhere, including many in Estes Park. Those with an adventurous spirit flocked in greater numbers each year.
Longs Peak Inn, circa 1916.
In the winter of 1904, when Enos visited a friend, L. G. Carpenter, in Telluride, Colorado, he was offered a job to go to the high regions of the Rockies to measure snow depth. No one else wanted to do such a dangerous job, thought it was essential for farmers to know what to expect when the spring run-off came. Enos immediately took up the task. For two years he was the Colorado Snow Observer for the Department of Agriculture. He measured wind speeds, snow depths, and other scientific variables in the mountains. He used snowshoes and skis to make his way through the winter heights. This was one of two jobs he held with the government. The other, specifically created for him, as he would not take a normal governement occupation, was as Government Lecturer on Forestry.
He did not deny them modern conveniences of comfort, however. Modern amenities such as steam heat, electricity, plumbing, comfortable feather beds, flannel sheets and thick towels were enjoyed. Longs Peak Inn had three telephones: one at the main desk and two in Enos' office. At one time, the three best restaurants in Colorado were at the Brown Palace, the Broadmore Hotel, and Longs Peak Inn, rated by Lowell Thomas. Enos wanted his guests to experience the wilderness at its best, rather than through legend and sensationalism. He also wanted them to shed, even temporarily, the stress of city life so that they could return home refreshed, renewed, friendlier, and happier.
In the spring of 1906 the main building of the Inn burned to the ground. Enos was on a lecture tour at the time, and hurried back to begin rebuilding. No blueprints or drawings of the new inn were made. The main lodge and forthcoming cabins were built from firekilled timbers gathered from an old forest fire in the region. The kitchen and dining room were ready to serve guests by July 4th of the year that it burnt.
The staircase at Longs Peak Inn.
Enos adjusts his snowshoes.
Every summer improvements were made, with forest influences in his architecture. He designed all the furniture and buildings, and hired builders to construct them. As the Inn grew he added a Nature Room with a special container that held a tundra environment with growing Alpine flowers for guests who could not walk up to the tundra.
After 1906 his writing and speaking engagements took up more time. Enos began training other Nature Guides for his Trail School where the emphasis was not on classifications and names, but on each unique aspect of nature. No matter how many times one walked the same path, there was always something new to see, as nature is continually changing. Enos' methods of nature guiding later became the basis for the modern field of interpretation in the National Park Service.
Enos kept journals of his travels and experiences. He began giving public addresses in 1891. He would continue giving speeches until his death. His evening talks at Longs Peak Inn by a campfire or the lobby's fireplace were often the close of the day's exciting events for his guests. For many years he attempted to get published, and when he finally was, his writing career flourished. He wrote of his adventures and observations in a plain, poetic manner so that it would engage those who read it rather than bore them with unecessary details. Magazines such as Country Life, Saturday Evening Post, Counry Gentleman, Outlook, Chums, Munsey's, Cosmopolitan, McClure's, Sunset, and Atlantic Monthly published his articles. Many of these magazine articles were put into book form. In 1909 his first major book, "Wild Life on the Rockies", launched him into the national eye. His second book, "The Spell of the Rockies", was his best seller. Enos wrote more than 18 books, all of which are nonfiction.
Enos at his desk in his cabin at Longs Peak Inn.