Friday, May 27, 2016

City Keys - The Key to Rock Island, Illinois

Good day!  Today's key room post will be the first in a series on "City Keys".  The idea of a "Key to the City" is entirely symbolic, especially in modern times.  Cities these days can be entered and exited without any need for a key, but back when cities would be surrounded by walls, the key to the city actually had a practical purpose.  In present times, to obtain the key to the city, a person must do something to make themselves standout in that city.  Here at the Baldpate Inn, we've been able to collect a good amount of these keys to the city in the museum.

The first of these keys is one from Rock Island, Illinois.  The key itself is bigger than a standard key, measuring 8 inches from top to bottom with a round part of about 3 and a half inches in diameter.  The key is engraved "Aug 22 1940, To Bald Pate, Key to city of Rock Island Ill. R.P. Galbraith, Mayor."  As this key lacks a letter to accompany it, the exact manner in which it arrived at the inn is a bit unclear.  Given that the key is engraved to the inn, it can be speculated that this key was intended for our museum from the start.

Rock Island is located on the western side of Illinois, on the Iowan border, along the Mississippi River.  The city is notable for having the world's largest roller dam, designed to help prevent erosion further downstream.  The dam was constructed in 1934, around six years before we got the key to Rock Island, and spans around 1200 feet across.  Interestingly enough, the dam is called "Lock and Dam No. 15", though it's one of the only locks that we cannot possibly obtain a key to!

Rock Island is represented elsewhere in the key room in a similar time frame with the key for the Rocky Mountain Rocket, operated by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.  Also donated in 1940, it followed a visit to the Baldpate by several of the railroad's prominent figures.  The letter stated that they hoped the Rocket would provide the inn with more visitors.  The Rocket struggled to compete with the Denver Zephyr, operated by the Burlington Route, and it ceased to exist in 1966; consequently, the Rock Island company went bankrupt and stopped operations in 1980.

Be sure to check out these keys (and countless others) when you visit the key room!

Museum Curator

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Getting Ready to Catalog

With opening day here at the Baldpate Inn just two short days away, there's no shortage of activity in getting ready to open.  Here in the key room, we're excited to welcome some special guests to help with one of our biggest ongoing projects.

Thanks to the awesome folks from American History Savers, we're able to catalog every single one of our keys to store in our database.  This fantastic catalog allows guests like you to search for any key we have!  We have a few keys to catch up on, and with AHS helping out, we hope to be completely up to date sooner than later!

Come visit us soon!  Opening day is May 27th, and we're taking reservations for lodging and dining on our website,, or on the phone at 970-586-KEYS or 970-586-5397.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Unlocking our 99th Season


As we draw closer to our opening date of May 27th, we'd like to take an opportunity to introduce a few of our curators for this coming season.

Hi there!  My name is Hunter, and I will be one of the Baldpate's curators for this coming season.  I will be a sophomore at Barrett the Honors College at Arizona State University this fall.  I am an Anthropology major, and plan on hopefully working in museums when I graduate from school.  My favorite key so far in the Baldpate's Key Museum is the key to Edgar Allen Poe's dorm room at University of Virginia.  I look forward to meeting all who come through the key room this summer, and I am open to answering any questions you all may have!

Good morning!  My name is Topher and I'm also a museum curator for the upcoming season.  I'm a recent graduate from the University of Denver with a major in History, and I hope this can be the start of a long career in museums.  So far, my favorite key in the collection is the key to Mozart's wine cellar.  While a simple key by design, the use and historical significance of the owner makes it especially fascinating to me.  I hope to meet plenty of visitors in the Key Room over the next few months!

Do you have any questions about the keys?  Do you have any neat stories about the keys or the places that they unlock?  Then send us an email at!  We would be happy to answer questions or share stories on the blog this summer.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Historic Memories

Hello Everyone!

Today was a very exciting day. Two individuals from the Baldpate Inn's past visited us again. The first being Maryann Grometer who worked here as a salad girl in 1942. One of her fondest memories was how the girls would go up to Lily Lake to collect the blooming lilies that blanketed the lake for table centers in the dining room. Our second guest was Vance Brand who is the son of Rudy Brand who donated the large yoke key. Here to visit with his wife Bev and daughter Susan he fondly remembers his father Dr. Rudy Brand. A real pioneer Rudy was born in 1903 in Boulder, moving to Longmont to become a veterinarian after finishing school. Vance also remembers how his father’s sisters Helen and Grace Brand, who just out of high school, chose to work here in the early thirties. Its days like these that reinstate the historic value and love for the Baldpate Inn. If anyone has any fond memories, laugh out loud stories, or even spooky ones, feel free to let us know! Feel free to email us at or stop by to share your stories and/or photographs.

                                Left: wife Bev Brand, Center: Vance Brand, Right: daughter Susan Brand

Your Friendly Curator,

Isabella Vinsonhaler

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

In celebration of the holiday, we here at the Baldpate have donned our festive apparel and decorated the inn with the wonderful red, white, and blue. Tonight, our guests and those who join us for dinner will be joining us in watching the Estes Park fireworks from our cozy mountain inn.

In light of the holiday, I just wanted to give a brief highlight on some of our American history keys.

As soon as you walk in, you can see a picture of President George Bush. This photo comes with a letter. Originally, a letter had been sent to President Bush in an attempt to gain a key to the White House. The attempt, however, was unsuccessful. The President responded simply by saying, “It is the votes of the American people that open the doors to the White House.”

In case 7, we have the Francis Scott Key. The key is wooden and made from the hand hewn joists that were in the flag house in Baltimore. In this flag house, the American flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814 was made. This flag survived a twenty-four hour bombardment from the British ships. This very flag is what inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner.

Case 3 contains a key ring of 4 keys. These are keys to the Pentagon. They came into our collection through Pentagon Key smith: Snake. If you look closely at the keys, they say US Property. DO NOT REPLICATE.

Lastly, in the front of the Key Room in case 2, we have a key to the US Mint at Philadelphia. This is a rather peculiar key and definitely one of the more originally shaped ones. Beneath it, there is a key to the Fort Knox side door.

Next time you’re in our Key Room, make sure to see some of these interesting keys in American history. Have a safe holiday!

God Bless America,
Matthew Porter

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Day of Excitement

Happy soon to be Fourth of July!

     Come join us for our gathering on our porch to eat dinner and then watch the fireworks, stars, and enjoy each other’s company for the fourth! Today I’d like to talk about the photo collection we have in both the dining room and on the sun porch. The labeling for all the photographs has been completed as well as the photo albums found in the lobby that give more detailed information. Each photograph, like each key, has its very own story which both Matt and I are happy to share. 

      One of my favorite photos is the one of Chuck Malone, the Baldpate Inn wrangler. The photograph shows Malone sitting in front of the Baldpate Inn with a Cheshire grin, harp and turban.  A very eccentric man, he not only carved his name into the mantle of the Wrangler cabin’s fireplace, but was rumored to have ridden his horse into the dinning room. 

A living firecracker, Malone turned the Baldpate Inn into a wondrous place of adventure, and excitement, which we hope to reproduce for our Fourth of July celebration!

Your Friendly Curator,

Isabella Vinsonhaler

Thursday, July 2, 2015

George M. Cohan

One staple of the Baldpate history is the namesake book, 7 Keys to Baldpate by Earl Derr Biggers. Mr. Biggers published his book in 1913. With the book’s popularity at the time, the Mace family (currently building the inn) decided to name the inn The Baldpate Inn, after the book. The fictional inn and the actual inn had many striking similarities. For example, the inn was 7 miles out of town and was only open in the summer. 7 Keys to Baldpate was very popular at this time. In the same year as the publishing of the book, Broadway writer George M. Cohan wrote a play adaptation of the book, which has been performed routinely and has been adapted to film several times.

In 1913, when Cohan adapted 7 Keys to Baldpate, he already had a pretty impressive resume behind him. The premiere of 7 Keys brought about much confusion in the audience and critics. Regardless, it became a hit. The play ran for a year in New York, a year in Chicago, and several revivals would follow, including one starring Mr. Cohan himself. 7 Keys to Baldpate was success for it was a well written adaptation. Critic Eileen Warburton attributes its success for it “mixes all the formulaic melodrama of the era with a satirical [farcical] send-up of just those melodramatic stereotypes.”

With the Fourth of July upon us, I thought it would be a good time to talk about Mr. Cohan’s musical compositions. With his work on Broadway, he wrote many patriotic songs that we still sing and listen to today. His first Broadway hit, Little Johnny Jones, premiered in 1904. This musical featured the popular song “The Yankee Doodle Boy.” The musical was about a fictional, American jockey who rides a horse named Yankee Doodle in the English races. Other hits to come out of this musical include “Give my Regards to Broadway,” a very popular musical theatre piece.

After the success of Little Johnny Jones, Cohan became one of the more prominent Tin Pan Alley writers. This was a collective of writers and publishers that dominated Broadway and popular music during the early twentieth century. Such songs to come out of this era include “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “OverThere.” “Over There” was used during World War I to help improve moral and increase patriotism. It was the most popular song of the era.

George M. Cohan’s work is timeless. His music is still played today, especially around this time. His plays are still performed. 7 Keys to Baldpate specifically has been revived many times and has been adapted to film 7 times. The first one, a 1917 silent film by Paramount, starred Mr. Cohan in the lead. Along with this, it was adapted to television twice. There is also a radio play adaption starring Jack Benny and Mary Livingston, which you can hear in our Key Room every day. George M. Cohan’s work has been immortalized in our culture. Next time you’re in the Key Room, make sure to find Mr. Cohan’s key, which he donated to our vast collection.

Your dead square, honest Yankee*
Matthew Porter

*quote from Grand Old Flag verse 2