Western history Writing Life

Estes Park and Stephen King

Stanley Hotel
Stanley Hotel in Estes Park

100 degree weather in Denver sent me scurrying off to the high country. Luckily, the Estes Park Genealogical Society invited me to speak at their conference on Saturday. It was a fine event —¬† friendly, well-organized, and productive. I spoke about Pioneer History and some of the research methods I’ve used with much success to learn about the characters for my biographies, and to sort out the truth about their lives from legends which surround them.

During my presentation, I gave a nod to some¬† pioneers who are favorites in Colorado’s Estes Park. They include Victorian author Isabella Bird, naturalist and homesteader Enos Mills, and modern fiction writer Stephen King. Stephen King?? An unlikely addition to my list, the author of the horror fiction story, The Shining, is a local favorite. The setting for his story was inspired by the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, which King had visited. Built in 1909, the 138 room Georgean hotel is a popular destination for Stephen King fans, who especially enjoy their ghost tours. Of course, the story was fiction and there are no ghosts associated with King and his novels. Or are there??

Although I’m not a fan of horror stories, I admire Stephen King for another reason. King is the author of one of my favorite books about writing. The title is On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I highly recommend this book to anybody who is a writer, who wishes to become a writer, or who wishes to know more about Stephen King and the writing life. Gotta love Stephen for this one.

It had been many years since my last visit to Estes Park. A daytrip there would not be complete without a drive past the historic Stanley Hotel. It is a fine example of past glory days of Victorian resorts, majestically overlooking the picturesque valley and town of Estes Park at the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. The bad news is that traffic in the gateway community has increased to a loud and oppressive intensity and volume of people and automobiles. So much for the quiet, sedate mountain village of decades past. Although the scenario did not quite allow me to step back in history, it was a pleasant escape from summer in the city.

Joyce B. Lohse, 7/19/10