Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tom Horn

Howdy ya’ll!

The rodeo was recently in town in Estes Park, and we celebrated here at the Baldpate Inn with flannel shirts and cowboy boots. I went to see the rodeo for the first time in my life and it was pretty incredible. I saw some very impressive cowboying and even got a little dirt kicked up in my face by an angry horse who made me feel like part of the action. It was a lot of fun, and keeping with the rodeo theme, I’m going to talk about a piece in our collection that came straight out of the Wild Wild West not too far from Estes Park.

It’s the story of a western lawman and outlaw named Tom Horn whose life ended in Cheyenne, Wyoming where he was convicted of killing the young son of a sheepherder. His life story seems like it was tailor made for a Western flick and he does appear in a few including a 1980 movie called Tom Horn starring Steve McQueen. The real Tom Horn was born in 1860 on a rural 600-acre farm in Scotland County, Missouri; the fifth of 12 children. When he was 16 he left home for the Southwest and started working for the U.S. Cavalry as a civilian scout. He soon became involved in the Apache Wars and assisted in the capture of the Apache warrior Geronimo. His skills as a gunman and a tracker earned Horn a reputation throughout the West. After spending time as a scout he spent a brief period as a deputy sheriff in Arizona and later caught the attention of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Denver where he worked as a detective tracking down criminals throughout Colorado and Wyoming.

Charlie Siringo, one of Tom Horn’s fellow Pinkerton agents at the time, once wrote about Horn that he was a very talented tracker and agent but had a wicked side to him that could not be tamed. This became evident as Horn turned from a law enforcer to an outlaw himself. He was eventually dismissed from the Pinkerton Agency for crimes he had committed while under their employ and was thereafter hired out as a Range Detective for wealthy ranchers in Colorado and Wyoming. As a Range Detective he functioned basically as an assassin. He killed a number of thieves and robbers in the area including Fred Powell, a rancher often charged for stealing horses. Horn’s work as a Range Detective was seasonal and in his down time he made a name for himself as a cowboy and horse breaker. The letter accompanying his “key” identifies his as “the man who broke Muggins, the horse belonging to Charles Camp,” and Charles Camp said of Horn that, “his great strength and size and panther-like agility made all broncos look like playthings to him.”

Horn maintained his position as Range Detective and cowboy until October 1902 when he was convicted for the murder of 14-year old Willie Nickell; the son of a sheepherding rancher in Wyoming. The case against him was based off shaky and circumstantial evidence and many modern historians believe that Tom Horn was innocent of this particular crime. Nevertheless, his murderous reputation made him an easy scapegoat for the crime and he received a guilty verdict on October 24, 1902. He was executed November 20, 1903 after his appeal to the Supreme Court for a re-trial was rejected and was buried in the Colombia Cemetery in Boulder, Colorado.

The “key” we have here from Tom Horn is actually a piece out of the rope that was used to hang him in Cheyenne. It was donated to us by a former chief of police of Greeley, Colorado and now holds a prominent position in our collection as a symbol of the old West.

So I hope you’ve all enjoyed this trip back to the cowboy days and maybe get a chance to see all of the Western keys we have here.

Until next time,

Key Room Museum Curator

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gherla Prison

Hello, everybody!

I feel like it has been a while since I’ve blogged, and I’m excited to be back! I’m sure you are wondering what I could possibly have in store for today. Well, I actually have a couple of great keys that I would love to talk about today. We have received quite a few key donations in the past couple of weeks, and I’m going to talk about two of the most notable donations in my next two blogs. The first key is to the Gherla Prison in Romania, and the second key comes from the Chicago World’s Fair. These keys are both very interesting, but today I’m going to focus on the key from the Gherla Prison.


This key was donated by one of our employees, Clara, who came here to The Baldpate Inn all the way from Romania. She actually came to work with Claudia, a friend who is also from Romania. Claudia has worked at The Baldpate Inn for three seasons now. After her first experience working here, she knew that she wanted to donate a key to the collection. Amazingly, she was able to acquire the key to a secret passage in Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle, in Transylvania. Like Claudia, Clara decided that she wanted to donate a key to our collection. She contacted the Gherla Prison and explained that she would like a key to take to America to represent Romania in the world’s largest public key collection. The staff at Gherla was surprisingly willing to help Clara out and agreed to donate a key. They were initially going to charge Clara for the key but ended up simply giving it to her. The best part, though, is that they did not just send her a key. The prison sent her a key that was screwed into a piece of wood with a certificate of authenticity attached. The attached certificate guarantees that the key was used in the maximum security section of the Gherla Prison. The certificate is sealed to the wood with the official governmental seal, which is a very big deal.
Clara wrote the following on the tag for the key: “Gherla Prison in Romania – A landmark of Romanian communism under N. Ceausescu, where enemies of the state were tortured.” Nicolae Ceausescu was born on January 26, 1918, into a very large and poor family. The struggles that he experienced growing up probably led him to support Communism, which promised a better future. He became a rising leader in the Union of Communist Youth and was arrested after joining the underground Communist Party. He served time at Doftana Prison, where he was cruelly treated and left with a permanent stutter from physical abuse. While he was in prison, he met Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, who introduced him to Communist party elders and educated him in Marxist-Lenin theories. Ceausescu managed to escape from prison and gained more and more power as Romania fell under Communist rule. Gheorghiu-Dej became the top ruler in the country and made Ceausescu his successor when he died. Ceausescu had big plans for the country but only ended hurting it more than helping it. He started his rule by putting Romania in severe debt. Then, he was able to cut the deficit in half at the cost of drastically lowering the country’s standard of living. He forced the export of most of the country’s agricultural products, causing food shortages across Romania. In December of 1989, Ceausescu was removed from power and put on trial. He and his wife were charged with genocide among other crimes, and they were executed by a firing squad.
                While Ceausescu was in power, he kept a close watch on the people of Romania and violently punished anyone who did not support his rule. He locked a lot of people away in the Gherla Prison, including many Anti-Communist opposition figures, who spent jail time or disappeared forever in this prison. The prison has a large underground area, and it has been reported that 15,000 inmates were housed in this area during the 1960s. The basic structure for the Gherla Prison came from the fortress of Gherla, which was built around 1540 by George Martinuzzi. The fortress became a prison in 1785 through the Imperial Decree of Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. Today, Gherla Prison is still used as a maximum security penitentiary.
I am extremely excited about Clara’s key donation, and I hope you enjoyed reading about the history of this interesting key from the Gherla Prison in Romania. I can’t wait to write my next blog on the key from the Chicago World’s Fair. I’m sure that you can hardly wait, either, but you’ll just have to be patient.

Have a great day!

Key Room Museum Curator

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

George Washington at the Battle of Trenton

Hello and Happy Tuesday,

If you think back a few days to this past July 4th weekend, then today’s key will be quite relevant, and exciting if you’re interested in American history. It was used by our country’s founding father and first president, but it pre-dates the United States by about 20 years. The key belongs to the Hessian Barracks which were built in Trenton, New Jersey by the Colonial Legislature of New Jersey during the French and Indian War. The Barracks are also known as “Ye Old Barracks” and still stand as a museum today, but when first built they were used to house war troops that had previously been put up in private homes. As our Bill of Rights suggests, that practice was not appreciated by Trenton’s townspeople. Until 1776 the Barracks housed mainly British and Irish soldiers and were a modest housing unit of little importance, but they gained their historic value when they became the location of the Battle of Trenton, a valiant effort by General George Washington and his men to reclaim the city and the Barracks themselves during the Revolutionary War.

The Battle of Trenton, as it turns out, was a lot more than just another one of the many battles of the Revolution. The American victory was overwhelming, cost very few American lives, and came at a time when Revolutionary forces needed a morale boost more than ever. Had Washington’s army not succeeded in capturing the garrisoned Hessian army, it may have meant the end of the Revolutionary war effort. Leading up to the battle, the Americans had suffered several losses in New York and had been pushed out of New Jersey into Pennsylvania. At that point, Washington devised a plan to take the British by surprise which began with his famous crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas day 1776. After bravely facing the icy river and making it across with just 2,400 men, he ambushed the Hessian Barracks the morning of December 26th and captured almost two-thirds of the 1,500 Hessian soldiers lodged there who were unaware and unprepared for the attack. Numerically the victory wasn’t the most impressive, but it rejuvenated the discouraged and dwindling American forces. News of the battle inspired reenlistment and new recruits from all over the colonies as well as increased confidence in General Washington’s leadership.

Personally I think it’s fascinating that we have keys all the way from the Revolutionary War era here in the Key Room. If you’re a fan of the theatrical, you might call this one of the “keys to American Independence,” and at the very least it’s an important piece of history to have preserved. I hope you come see it for yourself sometime soon.

Happy Independence Day from the Baldpate!

Key Room Museum Curator

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I Wake Up Screaming

How are you, Key Room friends?

I have another exciting key to show you today and this one’s for all the ladies out there. It comes from a woman who made her name soaring through the sky at high speeds. In the world of female fliers, we all know Amelia Earhart and her solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, but there’s another pioneering female pilot who deserves some recognition and we have her key right here in our collection.

Her name is Mary H. Dickey and in 1947 she earned her Airline Transport Pilot License which made her the first woman in America to hold that title since Laura H. Ingalls held it in 1935, and the only one to have it at the time she donated her key to the Baldpate Inn. The key operates her airplane, a Twin-Engine Cessna N.C. 75210, which Mary affectionately called “I Wake Up Screaming” and is accompanied by a framed picture of her standing with the plane looking giddy and professional. Obtaining an Airline Transport License is no small feat as it’s the highest level aircraft pilot license a person can hold and requires that they have at least 1500 hours of flying experience and pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s ATP practical test. Mary obtained her license after graduating from a commercial pilot school that she started for herself at New Orleans Airport.

Her story demonstrates both her talent and dedication to her craft. She first flew 8 years prior in 1941 when her sister’s boyfriend gave her the controls to his plane on a flight from San Antonio to Houston. At that moment she fell in love with flying and began taking lessons, and within 2 weeks was taking off and landing with ease. After that she was professionally trained at a pilot school in San Antonio, started working for an airline, and later joined the army and navy air forces as a civilian instructor for aspiring navy pilots. After many years working as a flight instructor, she moved to New Orleans to inaugurate the commercial pilot school from which she graduated. In 1947 when she achieved her Airline Transport Pilot License she had over 2300 hours of flight experience and had trained around 200 army and navy pilots.

Mary H. Dickey’s story would be an impressive one coming from anyone, but is even more inspiring considering how female pilots in the 1940s were often underestimated and clearly under represented. It’s a real honor that we’re able to preserve her legacy and her key here in the Key Room where she can continue to inspire all of us to live out our dreams.

So that’s all I have for today. In the mean time I, and the rest of the Baldpate team, look forward to your next visit,

Key Room Museum Curator

Friday, July 4, 2014

Houses of Parliament

Hello, everybody!

Happy Fourth of July! I hope you all are enjoying your holiday, celebrating our fantastic country. I am personally having a great day, and I am excited to watch Estes Park's fireworks show tonight from the Baldpate Inn's front porch. The Fourth of July is always a fun holiday for me, and this year I get to share it with the family here at the Baldpate.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I probably should have chosen a truly American key to talk about today in this blog. I chose, though, a key that comes from England. Isn't it ironic that I would choose a key from the country from which we were declaring independence on this day in 1776? Anyway, the key that I am going to talk about is the key to the main gate for the Houses of Parliament in London. This is one of the keys that I'll be talking about in my presentation on July 30 for our Summer Enchanted Evenings. My presentation is all about Hollywood, and you'll have to come see it if you want to know how an English key relates to Hollywood. This key from the Houses of Parliament seems to be missing a tag, so we don't know when it was donated or by whom it was donated. It is interestingly shaped and is quite a unique key. Let me tell you a little bit about the Houses of Parliament in England.

The Houses of Parliament is also known as the Palace of Westminster and is the seat of the two parliamnetary houses of the United Kingdom, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The building is located on the banks of the river Thames. When the parliament was created with two houses, the House of Lords met at the Palace of Westminster while the House of Commons did not have a permanent location. In 1530, King Henry VIII moved his court to Whitehall Palace, but the House of Lords continued to meet at the Palace of Westminster. In 1547, the House of Commons also moved to the Palace of Westminster.

The Old Palace was actually destroyed by a fire in 1834. The Jewel Tower, the crypt and cloister of St. Stephen, and Westminster Hall were the only parts of the building that were left intact. There were ninety-seven entries in the competition that was held to determine the design of the new building, and Sir Charles Barry alongside Augustus Pugin created the winning design. The design was for a large but balanced complex that was created in neo-Gothic style and incorporates the structures that survived the fire. The building contains 1,100 rooms that surround two courtyards. The construction lasted between 1840 and 1870. Interesting parts of the building include Big Ben, the Commons Chamber and Lords Chamber, and Westminster Hall.

The famous clock tower that was included in the design was originally called St. Stephen's Tower, but it was soon named after the tower's largest bell, the Big Ben. A light at the top of the tower is illuminated when Parliament is sitting at night.

The Commons Chamber and the Lords Chamber are where the House of Commons and the House of Lords meet respectively. The Commons Chamber was destroyed during World War II and was rebuilt
by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1950. The Lords Chamber is more lavishly decorated than the Commons Chamber. The balance of power has moved, though, over time from the House of Lords to the House of Commons.

Westminster Hall is the oldest hall in the Houses of Parliament, left standing after the fire that destroyed most of the building in 1834. Westminster Hall dates back to 1097. The large hammer beam roof was built in the fourteenth century and replaced the original roof that was supported by two rows of pillars. The following link will take you to an online tour of Westminster Hall:

I also want to include some interesting, strange facts about the Houses of Parliament. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament because it is a royal palace. People are also not allowed to wear armor in the building because it is supposed to be a peaceful place. In addition, the only Member of Parliament allowed to eat or drink in the Chamber is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who can have an alcoholic drink while delivering the budget.

I hope you enjoyed today's blog! Comment and tell me about your favorite Fourth of July tradition.

Have a great day!

Key Room Museum Curator

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stolen from the Tombs

A long time ago, in a dynasty far, far away, there was Ibrahim Pasha. He was born in 1789, the son of the Egyptian ruler Mohamed Ala, and died in 1848 as king of Egypt. He spent most of his life since adolescence as a military leader in his father’s kingdom and eventually became the supreme political leader although he died just 4 months after succeeding the throne. He was made Regent of Egypt when his father Mohamed became senile in his old age, but Pasha at the time was unhealthy himself due to his long career as a soldier and in the end died before his father. As a military leader and ruler, Pasha was respected and admired by his people and is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of the Mohamed Ala Dynasty regardless of his short reign. He is even honored with a monument in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. Most of Pasha’s acclaim comes from his military victories over the Ottoman Empire, Syria, and other surrounding territories during his time spent as chief commander of the Egyptian Army.


 Here at the Baldpate we have the key to the crypt in which Ibrahim Pasha’s body is buried, and as can be expected with Egyptian tombs, the building is even more historic than the man. The crypt is located in the Tombs of the Califs which dates back to 600 A.D. and is the resting place of all the royal family of Egypt. The two photographs that share a frame with Pasha’s key depict the beautiful Tombs of the Califs as well as the monument that represents Ibrahim Pasha in Cairo.

This key was acquired, and probably stolen, by a man named Richard Spencer in 1937. Spencer was an exchange student from Stanford University studying in Canton, China, but when his University in China was shut down as a result of World War II, he took the scenic route back to the United States through Singapore, Port Said, Egypt, and Europe. While he was in Egypt, the accompanying letter says he took this key out of the lock on Pasha’s crypt and apparently made it through customs without any trouble. I imagine security was slightly more relaxed back in the day.

So there you have it, a historic key brought from an exciting adventure around the world. Any of you who may be planning an overseas trip, remember to keep your eyes pealed for unattended keys looking for a new home. Or just plan a trip to Baldpate to enjoy the spoils of others.

If you are in the Estes Park area, please consider paying us a visit tonight at 7pm to hear Richard Thompson speak about living with Grizzly bears and enjoy some fresh baked cookies. Also if you plan a trip for next Wednesday, you’ll hear Jake, one of our very own curators, speak about 10 of the most exciting keys in our collection. You won’t want to miss it.

Happy key hunting!

Key Room Museum Curator

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sailing the Seven Seas

Ahoy! While it never did catch on for Alexander Graham Bell on how to answer the telephone, it was a very typical greeting to sailors as well as for the start of this blog as we will be exploring the history of a ship that has sailed the seven seas. Now if the previous sentence had anyone excited about reading about pirates and the like, I am afraid I must disappoint and instead tell you about a ship that has a checkered history and significance to our key collections’ ship section.

In the year of 1887 a ship was built in the Port of Glasgow, Scotland and set sail from Liverpool, England and was called the Kenilworth by the owners. The J. Reid and Company ship was a four mast ship that spanned just over 300 feet long and able to carry a total of 2293 tons. This ship that started out with so much potential and promise, however, was doomed for difficult times.

Its maiden voyage was a success, traveling from San Francisco to Newcastle in 41 days. And even her second voyage was profitable as well, sailing from Liverpool to San Francisco in 128 days. Sadly, the perfection of her first two voyages was met with disaster in the harbor of San Francisco. In August of 1889, a warehouse near the docked Kenilworth caught fire and the fire spilled over onto the ship. While still remaining fairly well intact, the ship was considered a constructional loss and was sold to the A. Sewall and Co. from New York.

It cost them $45,000 to repair but very quickly she was back to her hauling of cargo all over the world under the command of Captain J. Baker. For almost 6 years the ship had little difficulty with the tasks she was given. Her crew however had other plans. In 1895, the crew mutinied against the captain, first mate, and second mate. They set fire to the ship and the captain and the first mate suffocated in their rooms. The second mate was kept alive since they were in the middle of the ocean and J. Generaux was the only man left that understood navigation. This mutiny did not last long for when they set to port in Valparaiso, Chile the mutineers were punished and the ship was then sent on under Captain Murphy to its original destination in New York.

More than a decade later with only minor difficulties, the Kenilworth was sold to the Alaska Packer’s Association and renamed the Star of Scotland in 1908. For twenty-two years the Star of Scotland carried canned salmon back and forth to Alaska. The ship withstood valiantly under the extreme weather conditions of the Northern Pacific and Bering Sea. It was after this time that the key to the captain’s quarters was sent here to the Baldpate Inn and where it has been on display ever since.

This was not the end for the ship. Once again renamed, this time Rex, in the 1930s by a gangster known as Tony Cornero. For several years it was used as a casino off of the coast of Santa Monica, California before being shut down in 1940 and commissioned as the Star of Scotland as a cargo ship until being sunk on November 13th, 1942 by the German submarine U-159. As the donator of the key to this mighty ship’s captain’s quarters wrote in the letter to us, “If this key could talk it could tell interesting tales of tempests, shipwreck, mutiny, and hardships. It could also tell tales of tasks well done, as this vessel sailed the seven seas, carrying cargoes to all parts of the world, and her life history has been quite unusual.” With so many wild tales of the seven seas, we here at the Baldpate Inn feel very blessed to have such a unique key in our collection.

A further reminder for those that will be in Estes Park, Summer Enchanted Evenings is tomorrow night at 7 pm with Dick Thompson speaking about Life with the Grizzly. Also I am nearly prepared to present ten of the most famous keys in the Key Room the following Wednesday, July 9th, at 7 pm. Both are expected to be very interesting evenings and I hope those in the area will turn out and be open to a unique educational experience.
Until next time,
Key Room Curator

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jack Benny and Mary Livingston

Hello, everybody!

Today is another beautiful day here at the Baldpate Inn! I've had some great conversations in the Key Room today, and I hope that I'll have the opportunity to talk to all of you soon. Between conversations, I've been trying to decide which key to blog about. As I was thinking about it, I was listening to the radio play version of Seven Keys to Baldpate, which plays on repeat in the Key Room. I've listened to this show many times, and I never get tired of it! In all honesty, it is a great show, starring some great actors.
Two of the actors whose voices are featured in the radio play include Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone. We actually have a key in our collection that was donated by Benny and Livingstone. The key is to Jack Benny's Paramount Studios dressing room. On the tag, he wrote, "Jello again, and here's a key to health for every Baldpate Inn visitor." Mary Livingstone wrote, "Me too." I know Benny's and Livingstone's voices very well, but I didn't know that much about their life stories; therefore, I would like to share a little bit of what I have learned about these two Baldpate legends.

Jack Benny was born as Benjamin Kubelsky in 1894 in Illinois. Benny learned to play the violin at an early age and found work in theatre orchestras. He became a vaudeville performer when he was a teenager, teaming up with pianist Cora Salisbury. He had the oportunity to tour with the Marx Brothers, but his parents would not let him go on tour at 17 years old. Benny's comedy career began during World War I when he was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Centre. He used to try to entertain the men with his violin, but he did not receive a lot of appreciation from them. At one point, his friend whispered, "For heaven's sake, Ben, put down the damn fiddle and talk to 'em." Then, Benny told a joke that truly entertained the men.

Benny continued to make vaudeville performances after the war and began using the name "Jack Benny". He made his first radio appearance on Ed Sullivan's interview show on March 29, 1932. Within a year of this interview, Benny became a radio star. He starred in The Canada Dry Program, The Jell-O Program, and The Lucky Strike Program. Jack Benny eventually starred in his own television show, The Jack Benny Show. Benny even starred in Hollywood movies; although, his film appearances were largely poorly received. His movies include The Hollywood Revue of 1929, The Medicine Man, and To Be or Not To Be.

Jack Benny met Mary Livingstone while he was appearing in the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, and they were later married. They had one daughter, Joan Naomi Benny, and remained together until the end of his life. Benny died of cancer on December 26, 1974. He suffered for a short time before his death, but he continued to perform. After his death, a red rose began appearing at the Benny home every day. Eventually, Mary asked the florist about this. Apparently Jack Benny had been purchasing flowers one day and said, "If anything should happen to me, I want you to send my Doll a red rose every day." Mary received these roses until the day she rejoined Jack.

I hope you enjoyed today's blog! Please comment if you have more information you would like to share about Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone.

Have a great day!

Key Room Museum Curator

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Key to Musical Genius

Many have been considered great when we think of composers and artists in the music industry, yet there are some that have been more impactful than many of the artists that we consider great in our time period. One of these more impactful names in the world of music is that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is my great pleasure to discuss the key in our collection that is related to such a musical visionary as Mozart, especially since we have the key to his wine cellar in Salzburg, Austria.

Wolfgang was born on January 27th in 1756 to Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria in Salzburg, Austria. He was only two of seven children to the Mozart parents that actually survived into adulthood with the other five never surpassing infancy. His father was a minor composer and appointed to be the fourth violinist in the musical company for Count Leopold Anton von Firmian, the ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg in 1743.

Even early on, his older sister Maria Anna recalled that he was able to pick out thirds in scale as well as by age five being able to compose as his father wrote the notes down. His father was a great encourager of Wolfgang’s talents and soon focused primarily on teaching his children and gave up composing. While he and his sister were still very young, Leopold took them on several different European excursions in which Wolfgang and Maria Anna would perform as child prodigies for a plethora of dignitaries in a variety of cities including Munich, Paris, London, Zurich, and even parts of Italy.

In 1773 Wolfgang was employed as a court musician in Salzburg until 1777 when he resigned and looked for different work but unfortunately could not find a position to his liking and fell into debt. During this traveling period of Mozart’s life, his mother died on July 3rd 1778. He returned home in 1779 and took a position as a court organist and concertmaster. This was not to last long, however, for in 1781 he set off again, this time for Vienna.

When visiting his employer in Vienna he actually tried to resign his post and was refused, but then granted permission of dismissal and he settled in Vienna as a freelance performer and composer. There became a dispute due to him leaving the court of the Archbishop in Salzburg and it ran deeper than just being dismissed because Leopold Mozart sided against Wolfgang on the matter. When he did not return with the Archbishop it was considered the revolutionary step for Mozart, one that drastically changed his career.

It was in Vienna where he pursued Constanze Weber ,and the couple married in 1782, the day before his father’s letter of consent arrived in the mail. The Mozart couple had a total of six children over the next nine years with only two of them surviving infancy. A year after their marriage they visited Salzburg and prompted one of the more famous pieces by Mozart, Mass in C Minor, with his new wife singing one of the solo parts. In Maynard Solomon’s book, Mozart: A Life, he says this about Mozart’s time in Salzburg, “a harmonious connection between an eager composer-performer and a delighted audience, which was given the opportunity of witnessing the transformation and perfection of a major musical genre.”

It is here where our key comes in. Due to its unique nature and origin the key to Mozart’s wine cellar is quite rare in our collection. It is said that the wine cellar was given to Mozart as a gift since he was a popular visitor to the wine cellars made by the priests. During the early stages of his career as he became up and coming, Mozart was a prodigy and it seems that due to the already small amount of stature his father had acquired in Salzburg, Wolfgang was able to break through and this, his birthplace, was proud to call him one of their own. So when he returned and during the composing of Mass in C Minor, the citizens of Salzburg gave this key and the wine cellar it opened to him.

Over the next several years he created some of the most inspirational and genre-changing music that has ever graced the earth’s inhabitant’s ears, and yet life was cut short. At the age of 35, Mozart fell ill and while being nursed by his wife and daughter, wrote his final masterpiece, Requiem. He died on December 5th, 1791 and was laid in a commoner’s grave. While having changed how so many look at music and composing, Mozart had a glimpse of fame during his lifetime. In death, however, he inspired and continues to do so. Even I, a very amateur musician, have found the power of his music lifting and even can bring me shivers down my back if performed eloquently. I hope that this brief piece can induce a curiosity to look up and listen to some of his compositions.

Once again I will make a note here at the end that on July 9th I will be presenting ten of some of the more famous keys in our collection during the Summer Encahnted Evenings at 7 pm. I hope that many of you are able to come out and enjoy the variety of history we have here in the Baldpate Inn Key Room.

Until next time,
Key Room Curator

Friday, June 27, 2014

S St. Vrain Highway

Good to see you again Key Room readers,

I have another key to share with you on this lovely Friday afternoon, and I hope you enjoy it.

Today’s key is a piece of local history that we are proud to have as a part of our key collection. It is the key to the transit box used in the surveying of the South St. Vrain Highway in Estes Park. If you have visited Estes Park at all you have probably driven on this road once or twice. I use it every time I leave the Inn and venture into town. The highway was constructed during the 1920s and is now part of Colorado State Highway 7 which happens to be home to the Baldpate Inn and many other beautiful locations in Northern Colorado.

The picture above shows part of the survey team that worked on the highway back in the early 20th century when surveying required different tools than a computer and a satellite. It’s thanks to their hard work and the hard work of many others that Estes Park has become the town that it is today. Road service in the early 20th century brought many more tourists and visitors to the Estes Park area and many of those visitors decided to stay and contribute to community. And who could blame them? The South St. Vrain Highway allowed many people to come and fall in love with Estes Park and it continues to do the same today.

Here in the Baldpate Key Room we have a whole section devoted to Colorado state history so if you’re interested in how this great state has grown to be what it is today then come by and see for yourself. We’d love to have you,

Key Room Museum Curator

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ford Model T

Hello, everybody!

Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about cars, even though I am far from being an expert on this topic. I'm preparing for my presentation on July 30 here in the Key Room as part of our Summer Enchanted Evenings. In case you don't know, we have different people come and speak about various topics here at the Baldpate every Wednesday night at 7:00 pm. We would love for you join us every week for an hour of entertainment! Anyway, I will be giving a presentation at the end of July about some of our keys and photos that relate to Hollywood. One of the movies that I'm going to talk about in my presentation is American Graffiti. This movie features some of the best music and coolest cars from the 1960s and earlier. One of the cars used in the movie is the Ford Thunderbird, a beautiful car driven by a beautiful girl. The movie features other Ford vehicles as well. Our photo collection here at the Baldpate includes a photo of the man who started it all, Henry Ford. Not only is Ford part of our photo collection, but I discovered today that we have two keys from Model Ts in our key collection.

We have a fun option in the Key Room for visitors to complete a scavenger hunt, and one of the Model T keys is included in the scavenger hunt. This key can be found in the Michigan section of keys on our ceiling, and the other Model T key can be found in the Kansas section. We can identify the keys as keys to Model Ts because of their wavy blades and diamond shaped handles. The numbers on the keys are 52 and 74, and these numbered keys were used between the years 1919 and 1927. For example, the key with the number 52 on it would have been used for any Ford with a number 52 lock. Interestingly, one of the keys has the Ford logo on it while the other key does not.

I want to talk now a little bit about Henry Ford and the Model T. Henry Ford was always interested in making vehicles and was willing to take any risk to start his own company. His first two companies failed, but his third automotive company, Ford Motor Company, was a success. He was able to hire a group of capable men who believed in his vision. The company's first vehicle, the Model A, was followed by improved models. In 1907, Ford's Model N became the best selling car in the country, but Henry Ford was dreaming of a car that was better and more affordable. He came up with the Model T, which was introduced in 1908.

The Model T was easy to operate, maintain, and handle on rough roads. The car was very successful, and Ford was able to sell every one that he made. He wanted to be able to make enough cars for everyone who wanted to buy one, which was the inspiration for the assembly line. The company moved to a huge plant in Michigan in 1910, and the Ford team borrowed ideas from watch makers, gun makers, bicycle makers, and meat packers in an attempt to create a way to increase production. By late 1913, the team had developed the moving assemply line. Employees were not pleased, though, with the repetitive work, and the company had to hire 53,000 people a year to keep 14,000 jobs filled. Henry Ford solved this problem by doubling his employees' wages. The price of the Model T dropped, and sales rose steadily. By 1922, half of the cars in America were Model Ts.

I hope you found this interesting, and I hope you can come in July to my presentation about Hollywood keys. If you have more information about Henry Ford or the Model T that I should know about, please leave a comment.

Have a great day!

Key Room Museum Curator

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Key to Becoming a Famous Outlaw

While none of us grow up without knowing too many names of famous criminals, one name should always spark the interest of the American mind. If it doesn’t then I hope to enlighten any reader on the name of one famous outlaw that has a connection to the Baldpate Inn Key Room, and that is Jesse James. While never actually staying here, or even owning the key that is connected to him here, the key to the Old Southern Bank of Kentucky in Russellville, KY would not soon forget, since it was robbed by the famous outlaw and his gang in 1868.

Jesse James is a man from a stereotypical upbringing during the mid-19th century. Born on September 5, 1847 to Robert S. James, a farmer and Baptist preacher, and Zerelda Cole James, he knew his father for only a short time before Robert James went west to minister to the gold miners in California. He had two full siblings, Alexander Franklin “Frank” and younger sister, Susan Lavenia, and four half siblings after his mother married twice after the death of Robert James.

As the years went by living in the state of Missouri was increasingly difficult since it was a border state as the United States increased in hostility and polarized into the North and South. Since the population was nearly 75% Southern born, animosity grew increasingly and lead to militia groups on both sides attacking, making Missouri a dangerous place to grow up in. This style of fighting, which has been classified as guerrilla warfare, gripped most of Missouri throughout the 1850s and even through most of the Civil War. Jesse’s older brother Frank joined a group known as the Drew Lobbs Army and then later was identified as a member of a different guerrilla warfare group that led Union militia soldiers to search and raid the James-Samuel farm, even torturing Reuben Samuel and, according to rumor, Jesse as well.

In 1864, Jesse joined his first outlaw squad under the leadership of Fletch Taylor, but soon after Jesse and Frank James joined a group under the command of Bloody Bill Anderson. During that summer it is reported by the local marshal that Jesse and Frank James were part of the Centralia Massacre where 22 unarmed Union soldiers were killed. After some time the brothers separated and had their own adventures, Jesse was even mortally wounded twice during the absence of his brother.

Over the next several years Jesse James became more prominent. In 1866 he and Frank met up with Cole Younger and began to plan several bank robberies as they also recruited to their gang. This is where the key from our collection comes into the scene. While being reported as the first bank ever robbed by Frank and Jesse James, there are several reports that state that they had robbed a couple of banks before reaching the Old Southern Bank of Russellville, KY including the Clay County Savings Bank in Liberty, Missouri and the Alexander Mitchell and Co. Bank in Lexington, Missouri. Yet this is one of the first banks that were ever robbed by the brothers and their gang, which gives significance to this place and to the key that is from it. Now our information that was given to us by the donator of the key to this bank in Russellville, KY says that there was $17,000 stolen, yet according to my research I have found that they got away with as much as $14,000. Either way this was a good haul for them and continued to help propel them towards infamy.

Jesse and Frank James soon became famous with their crimes and evasion of the law. Rewards were posted for them at $5000 dollars a piece by different companies in the state of Missouri but not any by the government since there was a bar on the governor from seeking a suitable reward for their capture. By this time many of the original members of the James-Younger Gang were dead and so recruiting was required to keep up the nomadic and reckless lifestyle that Jesse James had become accustom to by the late 1870s. These recruits however were not battle hardened as were the original members and it made it difficult for Jesse to trust them by 1882, he trusted only two but should have trusted none. On April 3, 1882 while getting ready to go out for another robbery, Charley and Robert Ford prepared the horses. In a moment of weakness and trust, Jesse James turned his back to adjust a picture on the wall and was shot in the back of the head by Robert Ford.

Thus ended the life of Jesse James, but it did not end the legend. Jesse James was already famous during his lifetime, his death sky-rocketed him to the spotlight of notorious outlaws and rightfully so in my opinion. The story of his life has been recounted in many aspects ranging from reenactments and TV shows to literature, comics and even plenty of movies. During one traveling adventure out west, Oscar Wilde wrote this after visiting Jesse James’ hometown in Missouri, “Americans are certainly great hero-worshippers, and always take heroes from the criminal class.” This seems to definitely be true in the case of Jesse James. While being a person with little morality, he is still a fascinating individual to research.

I would like to conclude the post today with a reminder that this Wednesday at 7pm, we will once again be having Summer Enchanted Evening with guest speaker, Pat Washburn, whose topic is called “The Other Mills Brother.” Also looking ahead a little further, I will be speaking on July 9th focusing on 10 of the most famous keys and their history, so I would love for people to come out for that event.

Until next time,


Key Room Curator

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Key to a Canadian Dungeon

Hi, friends!

Welcome back to the Key Room blog. I’m here once again to bring you the virtual key room experience, so get ready for an exciting historical journey.

Today’s key is one that I picked out of our International section which hosts keys from all around the world, but this one in particular only requires a short visit to our Northern neighbor. It comes from Newfoundland, the easternmost province of Canada, but since the key dates back to 1741 let’s just call it one obscure portion of the British Empire. Back when Britain’s American colonies were growing rapidly and nearing the door of independence, Newfoundland was barely a blip on the British radar. It was used only as a fishing port until it was organized into an official colony in 1825, and until then the British crown discouraged permanent settlement there. Still, settlers found ways of keeping order in their distant colony, and the key I’ll show you today is a relic of Newfoundland’s very early justice system.

It unlocked the door to a dungeon in the basement of the Court of Oyer and Terminer in the settlement of Harbour Grace. The Court of Oyer and Terminer was distinct from other courthouses in the province because it was specifically used to deal with capital crimes and the most serious offenses. Any crime apart from treason could be tried and decided there. The court officials and judges in charge of sentencing those convicted were often naval officers since during this time Newfoundland was governed primarily by the navy. As the 18th century progress, Newfoundland’s civil government grew and non-military governors were instituted, but in 1741 there were still few of those in place. Generally, this time period in Newfoundland is regarded as fairly lawless and marked by conflict, and maybe the presence of a dungeon in the basement of the courthouse for capital crimes is an indicator of how criminals were dealt with in the early days of the colony. There is plenty to be left to the imagination, but this key is a pretty exciting piece of history to have here in Estes Park and brings us back to a much less institutionalized world.

On your next visit to the Key Room, come see all our keys from around the world, and you’ll find even more stories from distant cultures and eras. It’s even more fun in person.

Goodbye for now,

Key Room Museum Curator

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hello, everybody!

I'm so glad that you decided to join me in exploring another key from our huge collection! Today, I think I'm going to talk about a key from one of my favorite cities, New York. I stumbled across this key, and it is actually pretty incredible. The key is from the original Plaza Hotel in NYC.

Download 20140620_180023_resized.jpg (1628.6 KB)The Plaza Hotel that stands today was opened in 1907, but the original Plaza Hotel stood in the same spot for 15 years before that. We received a letter with the key for the Plaza from J. P. Herndon, Jr. in 1948. In the letter, he said that the key was the only souvenir he had from the original Plaza and he wanted to see it prominently displayed in the Baldpate's key collection.

Today, The Plaza Hotel is one of the most celebrated, elegant hotels in America and is frequented by business leaders, socialites, movie stars, and artists. It was once said, "Nothing unimportant ever happens at The Plaza." When The Plaza opened, it was reported to be the greatest hotel in the world. Bernhard Beinecke, Fred Sterry, and Harry S. Black were the men who had the dream for the current Plaza Hotel. Construction of the 19-story building took two years at a cost of $12 million, which was a lot of money in those days. No cost was spared in the attempt to create a hotel with the opulence of a French chateau. The Plaza was so well known that Ernest Hemingway advised F. Scott Fitzgerald to give his liver to Princeton and his heart to The Plaza.

Fitzgerald used The Plaza in some of his novels, including The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, were devoted patrons of The Plaza. The hotel is featured in Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of the novel, as well as other movies, including Plaza Suite, The Way We Were, Barefoot in the Park, Funny Girl, Cotton Club, and Home Alone II: Lost In New-York. The hotel's movie debut was in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic, North by Northwest.

Check out this link for an interesting video about The Plaza and The Great Gatsby:

I hope you join me again soon for another advanture in the key room!

Have a great day!

Key Room Museum Curator

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bringing the Beach to Baldpate

If there’s one thing I think I’ll miss while spending the summer in Estes Park, it’s the ocean. There aren’t very many things as relaxing as walking barefoot along the sand and hearing the waves rhythmically crashing at the shoreline, and not many things as freeing as diving into them to cool off from the warmth of the sun. I love the sounds and smells, and the hot sun that soaks into your skin, and eating shrimp and scallops and sipping lemonade. Sometimes I just get lost thinking about it.

Sadly the ocean doesn’t quite reach to 9,000 ft, but here in the Key Room we have plenty of keys to unlock that kind of paradise, so sit back with me and let’s enjoy the beach as best we can.

Ahh, the Royal  Victoria Hotel. Once located in Nassau on the appropriately named Paradise Island, it was the luxurious gem of Bahaman tourism. This delightful getaway was built during the American Civil War, but burned down in a fire in 1971. Though this key no longer unlocks a room with a view, what stand in place of the hotel now are the Royal Victoria Gardens. There the remaining ruins of the hotel have been overgrown by a sprawling botanical garden that demonstrates the natural beauty of the tropics.


And now I'll take you to the other ocean and to the island of Maui. This key is to the Napili Kai Beach Resort on Napili Bay. Napili Bay is considered to have of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii and I would guess that it has probably been used as a screensaver a few times. This sunny resort wraps along the coast and offers ultimate relaxation with access to snorkeling, swimming, and beautiful sunsets.


Finally, here is the key to the Palmas del Mar Resort in Humacao, Puerto Rico on the eastern coast of the island. Palmas del Mar is the largest and most famous resort in Puerto Rico and has on its property over 20 tennis courts, 2 golf courses, and a riding center. The best parts, in my opinion, are its multiple beaches and gorgeous views, but who doesn’t love a good tennis match once in a while.


So I hope today’s keys have made you feel a little closer to the sun and sand. Someday soon I’ll be back in the waves, but here at the Baldpate we have our own kind of paradise. Come visit us if you get the chance and you’ll find your relaxation in the fresh mountain air and the view from the porch swing.
If you make it our way tonight at 7pm, you’ll get a special treat as we’ll be hosting the second in our Summer Enchanted Evenings series. Tonight Scott Rashid, a local bird rehabilitator and wildlife expert, will be sharing a presentation on hummingbirds and offering an up close view of one of the smallest species of birds on earth. If you’ve visited the Baldpate hummingbirds before then you certainly won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn a little more about them.
Hope you see you all soon,

Key Room Museum Curator

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Hello, everybody!

I hope you are all doing well on this beautiful day, and I hope that all of the fathers out there are having a great Father's Day!

Today, I was reading through letters that we keep in a filing cabinet. These letters are ones that were sent with donated keys. I found one letter that was particularly interesting. As I was searching for the key that went along with the letter, I discovered another related key. The first key was donated by John E. Tidwell, and his letter says that the key was to "Number 10", a prison car, which was used by United States Marshals in transporting prisoners from the United States Jail at Muskogee, Oklahoma to penitentiaries in Leavenworth, Kansas, Columbus, Ohio, and Jefferson City, Missouri. The key was given to Tidwell by E. H. Hubbard, the Chief Deputy United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

The related key that I found was actually donated by E. H. Hubbard himself. He also sent a letter with his key, and both letters are dated on July 23, 1936. Hubbard writes that he decided to donate a key after hearing about the collection from J. E. Tidwell. Hubbard's donated key was used in the United States Jail at Muskogee, Oklahoma to unlock cell locks. Hubbard says that the jail was built by the United States Government during 1902. Many notorious criminals, including bank robbers, train robbers, murderers, and kidnappers, have been incarcerated in this prison. I'm going to talk a little bit about some of these prisoners, Bill Doolin, Al Jennings, Henry Starr, Dewey Gilmore, and Rufe McCain.

Bill Doolin was an American bandit and founder of the Wild Bunch, an outlaw gang that specialized in robbing banks, trains, and stagecoaches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas during the 1890s. When the Wild Bunch was taken down by three Deputy U.S. Marshals and Bill Doolin was killed, one of the members, Richard West, joined Al Jennings and the Jennings Gang. The Jennings Gang was not very successful. The Gang conducted a series of failed train robbery attempts, one of there last being a case where they blew up an entire train car, only to find that there was no money in the train's safe. Interestingly Al Jennings also worked as an attorney and in politics, and he later became a silent film star. Henry Starr might have been the most successful of the robbers that I have mentioned so far. He robbed more banks than both Bill Doolin's Gang and Jesse James's Gang put together. He started robbing banks on horseback in 1893 and ended up robbing his last in a car in 1921. He stole over $60,000 in more than 21 bank robberies.

Dewey Gilmore and Rufe McCain are both criminals who eventually ended up at Alcatraz. From the mid 1930s until the mid 1960s, Alcatraz was America's premier maximum-security prison, located on Alcatraz Island, one and a half miles offshore from San Francisco. Dewey Gilmore, a kidnapper, was sent to Alcatraz shortly after the death of another inmate, Joseph Bower. Bower tried to make a nearly impossible escape and was shot down. Bower was the first person to try to escape after Alcatraz Island became a federal prison. Other criminals at Alcatraz at this time included Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Another criminal who ended up at Alcatraz after spending time in the the jail in Muskogee was Rufe McCain. McCain was confined in cell 14-D at Alcatraz for over three years after an escape attempt. Cell 14-D, a place where rebellious prisoners were confined in total isolation, is the most famous cell for being haunted. When McCain was released from the cell, he murdered another inmate. It is said that cell 14-D had done irreparable damage to his psyche.

I hope you enjoyed learning about these two prison keys as much as I did! I'm constantly discovering new fascinating keys here in the Key Room. If you have a favorite key, please let me know so I can learn about it, too!

Have a great day!

Key Room Museum Curator

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The "City of Denver"

Welcome back Key Room fanatics!
I hope you’re all enjoying this sunny Saturday afternoon and maybe contemplating the expanse of the Baldpate Key Collection while you sip iced tea on a porch swing in the mountains. If you are, or if you need a little inspiration, I’m here to highlight another one of our fascinating keys for you.

Today I walked over to panel 10 on our left side wall where we have a large assortment of keys relating to transportation and all the planes, trains, and automobiles you can think of, and I picked one out that struck me as pretty interesting. It was donated by the Union Pacific Railroad Company in 1936 and is the key to a train called the “CITY OF DENVER.” Unfortunately for all of us, John Denver never wrote a song about this train, but it’s notable for reasons of its own. “The CITY OF DENVER” made the very first 16 hour daily service voyage from Denver to Chicago on June 18, 1936 which set the record for the fastest long-distance train route in the world. Before its historic journey, the fastest train schedule between Denver and Chicago took 25 hours making the “CITY OF DENVER’s” route 9 hours faster; a revolution in efficiency that the Union Pacific advertized would “save a business day.”
And like a true champion of the rails, the “CITY OF DENVER” had both speed and stamina. It dominated the competition and ran the fastest route from Denver to Chicago for nearly 20 years. It was not until 1953 that Union Pacific Railroad Company updated its route in favor of a lighter, faster engine. That’s quite an achievement for one little train.

So how does the “CITY OF DENVER” compare to the trains of today? Well, it really isn’t too far behind. On the 16 hour route from Denver to Chicago, the “CITY OF DENVER” averaged about 65 miles per hour, and although most modern AmTrak trains are capable of higher speeds, there is a 79 mph speed limit set for most American routes. Since rail travel has been changing, however, many trains are blowing that number away. Bullet trains average about 200 mph and even that number continues to increase with new technologies.

If you come by the Key Room you’ll be able to see even more keys from American railway history and plenty of other industries as well. There’s lots to be learned and discovered.

Until next time,

Key Room Museum Curator