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A Brief History of Enos A. Mills, Continued
Enos began taking pictures around 1890. He used an Eastman Kodak Pocket Camera. We assume he lost more than one camera in his many outings. He took thousands of photographs. Many were lost in the 1906 fire at Longs Peak Inn. Many of these photographs illustrated his articles and books, and he sold prints of them at the gift store at Longs Peak Inn.
In 1909, Enos moved from his homestead cabin to into a larger, more modern cabin at Longs Peak Inn when he began working to get Rocky Mountain National Park established. In combination with running the Inn during the summer and his speaking and writing engagements around the country, he needed to be closer to the telephone at all times. During the winters from 1909 until his death in 1922 he traveled around the country giving lectures and talking to people about the reasons why it was so important to set natural areas aside and save them for the generations to come. His experience as a miner in his youth, and his years in the wilderness gave his topics a balanced perspective on conservation and a population's need for natural resources. He was able to appeal to businessmen and many public orginizations all over the nation. Rocky Mountain National Park was created by an Act of Congress in January, 1915. The Denver Post dubbed him "The Father of Rocky Mountain National Park."
Enos with his camera.
Enos giving the keynote address at the dedication of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Esther Burnell came to Estes Park with her sister, Elizabeth, in 1916 for a two week vacation. Elizabeth had a job as a teacher she wished to return to, but Esther had had enough of corporate life as an interior designer in Cleveland. Esther decided that she would homestead, despite her family's and friends' protests. Esther homesteaded four miles west of Estes Park, and in the spring of 1917, she took a moonlit walk across the Continental Divide on snowshoes over to Grand Lake to visit friends. She made the trip in one night, a feat unheard of, even by Enos' standards. This caught Enos' attention, and he courted her. During the summer of 1917, Esther became his personal secretary, and when Elizabeth visited for the summer, both sisters were trained as Nature Guides for Long's Peak Inn. Esther became the first Nature Guide licensed by the National Park Service.
The Mills Family Cabin at Longs Peak Inn.
In August of 1918, Enos and Esther were married in the doorway of his homestead cabin, across the road from Long's Peak Inn, with Elizabeth and another friend as witnesses. It was a fast, private ceremony, as the press was already on their way to get news of the event! In April of 1919, five days after Enos' birthday, their daughter (their only child), was born. She was named Enda, after family friend Edna Ferber, though the spelling was changed. Enos was thrilled to be a father and husband, and even though matters of conservation efforts elsewhere in the county vied for his attention, he spent as much time as he could with his family.
In 1918, the two-year-old National Park Service, which Enos had been a part of creating, granted one transportation company ingress and egress through Rocky Mountain National Park. This impinged the rights of anyone with a car, including hotels, in the area, and many homesteaders who had been included in the borders of the National Park. The Rocky Mountain Transportation Company maintained a monopoly on the public roads inside the national park until 1927. No other company, nor could any hotel transportation service, could use their vehicles inside the park. Very few people owned their own vehicles in those days, so hotels in the area, like Longs Peak Inn, the Stanley Hotel, and other establishments with their own small fleets of cars, offered transport into the park as part of their services to the visiting public.
Enos' wife Esther, and daughter Enda.
Enos with his daughter, Enda.
By 1915, over 250,000 people were visiting Estes Park. Enos, with the support of a few businessmen like F. O. Stanley of the Stanley Hotel, fought the monopoly. This would consume his political efforts until his death. After he died his widow Esther, her sister Elizabeth, and F. O. Stanley, carried on the fight until the monopoly was quashed in 1927.
Enos died suddenly at the age of 52 in September, 1922. A number of factors contributed to his death, the most prominent of which was blood poisoning from an abscessed tooth. Esther had him cremated and spread his ashes secretly. Esther died in 1964, having never remarried. She sold Longs Peak Inn in 1946. The main lodge burnt again in 1949, and has since gone through a number of owners.
There is much more to learn about Enos A. Mills! You can learn more about him through his own writing, and through the first biography written on him by Esther Burnell Mills and Hildegarde Hawthorne.
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