Monday, May 30, 2016

Getting Spooky- The Key to Frankenstein Castle

Good morning fellow key lovers!

   It is a gorgeous morning here at The Baldpate Inn, yet I have decided to focus on a key that many may find to be more on the dark side- the key to the Frankenstein Castle.  Most everyone has heard of Mary Shelley's classic horror novel, Frankenstein, which has also been adapted into multiple movie versions.  The Frankenstein Castle is rumored to have been the inspiration for Shelley's novel.

  Frankenstein is a German name consisting of two words, Frank being the name of a German tribe, and Stein meaning stone.  This means that Frankenstein can be translated to "Stone of the Franks."  Frankenstein Castle was built in Germany sometime before the year 1250 (a precise date has not been recorded yet), and remained in the Frankenstein tribe for about 400 years.  The Castle has served many purposes throughout history, such as a barrack for retired soldiers in the 17th century, and as an American army base after WWII.

  For a period of years, Frankenstein Castle was home to a scientist by the name of John Konrad Dippel.  Dippel was said to be a natural loner, and is known as the archetypal "mad scientist."  He helped discover the dye called Prussian Blue, and was fascinated with mysticism.  Dippel created a serum made from boiled-down animal parts that was said to reverse aging, and was extremely interested in the human soul. Dippel began to dissect both human and animal corpses in order to discover if one being can swap souls with another.  He is also rumored to be an inspiration for Mary Shelley's famous novel. 

 On a lighter note, our key collection continues to gain new additions each day! Come on down and visit our key collection, and give some homeless keys a home here at The Baldpate Inn.

   Til next time,

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Church Keys - The Little Brown Church in the Vale

Greetings!  Today's key takes us just outside of the small town of Nashua, Iowa, to the church simply known as "The Little Brown Church in the Vale".  Our key to the church comes with a photograph and some information on the founding of the church.

The church shares an origin story similar to the Baldpate.  Just as we were started after the novel Seven Keys to Baldpate was published, the church was founded after William Pitts wrote a poem that he turned into a song, called "The Church in the Wildwood".  He was inspired to do so after visiting the scenic spot in 1857 and believing that a small church would look great on the location.  The church itself was first constructed in 1864.  Coincidentally, the church was painted brown, just like in the song, simply because it was the cheapest paint to coat the building in.

Mr. Pitts returned to the location in 1864, shocked to find a church that looked just like the one in his song.  The song had been forgotten, even by Pitts, but upon seeing the church, he tracked down the copy of the song and taught it to the church's choir.  While the church thrived for a few years, eventual economic downturn led to the community deteriorating, causing the church to close down in 1888.

The church remained closed until a dedicated group of people, working as the Society for the Preservation of the Little Brown Church, worked to re-open the location in 1914, and since that date, the church has been continuously operational.  The new community of Nashua was enough to help keep it afloat, attending services and holding Sunday School.  But, with the already unique past of the church, it was destined to be more than just a small community chapel.

Throughout the 1920s, a musical act known as the Weatherwax Brothers Quartet toured the country, using "The Church in the Wildwood" as a theme song for their group.  As news of the song and the real-life church spread across the country, the Little Brown Church became not just a small community of faith in small-town Iowa, but a tourist destination.  The location became popular for weddings in particular, which the church still hosts plenty of today.  By their estimates, they have hosted close to 75,000 weddings since 1914, averaging over 400 every year.

The key to the Little Brown Church has been part of the Baldpate collection since 1928.  It was donated to us by George D. Williams, who left a short poem to go with the key.
There are seven keys to Baldpate
But only one to the church in the vale 
Yet one by one, the couples come
To the door of the church in the dale.
Check out this key, and plenty of other keys for other churches, when you come to visit the Key Room!

Museum Curator

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Original Key to the Baldpate!

    Good morning everyone!  It is a beautiful, sunny morning up here at The Baldpate Inn, and to start off the 2016 season here at the key museum I have decided to take it back to where it all began.  The Baldpate Inn got it's name from Earl Derr Biggers, the author of the famous mystery novel Seven Keys to the Baldpate, after he visited the inn and stated that it reminded him of the imaginary Baldpate Inn in his novel.  Earl Derr Biggers presented a key to the Baldpate key collection, stating that his key was the "original" key to the Baldpate, and that all the others were "fake."

  Our key collection here at the Baldpate continues to grow each season, so come on down and donate a key!  We are always welcome to adding more and more to our collection.  Make sure to enjoy a piece a pie and a fine glass of wine while you are at it, as you enjoy all that the Baldpate Inn has to offer. It is going to be a great season!

  Museum Curator


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.