Twin Lakes Colorado was originally settled and named “Dayton, Colorado” in 1865. It became an important transportation town, with a name change (Twin Lakes) when gold was discovered in the Aspen area in 1879. The need to move goods and people between the boom towns of Leadville and Aspen drove the development of an old trail over Independence Pass, a narrow rough toll road. The splendor of the valley has been enjoyed through out the years. Twin Lakes was described in 1885 as “the most charming summer mountain resort in Colorado.”
In 1879 a hotel was built on the south shore of Twin Lakes; in 1883 it was purchased by James V Dexter and renamed Inter-Laken.
The Interlaken Hotel and Resort sported deluxe accommodations with views of the lakes. It also had a log tavern, pool hall, and outbuildings including a 16-stall horse barn to accommodate guests’ horses with a tack room, storage, and hay loft. The resort also had a milk barn, an ice house, granaries, and laundry. One notable building you can still see today is the six-sided ‘privy’ with a separate room and door for each of the six stalls.
Summer concerts were held in the pavilion and, in winter, guests could enjoy the resort, starting with a horse-drawn sleigh ride across the frozen lake. Hunting, fishing and boating were the favorite activities for the rich and famous visitors who could access the area on the Denver &Rio Grande railroad which stopped at nearby Granite and also a Twin Lakes Station along the Arkansas River.
The resort operated a short 25 years before being abandoned. Now on the historic register, Interlaken’s buildings were moved inland in 1962 when a dam was built at Twin Lakes to augment the area’s water-storage capabilities. The resulting Twin Lakes reservoir was set to engulf the historic buildings. Now you can hike or take a boat tour over to Interlaken, walk around and explore the ghost resort. Dexter House can also be toured inside, thanks to renovation work done by volunteers working for the US Forest Service.
History links you might enjoy exploring
An Avalanche tragedy in the 60s written up in Colorado Central Magazine.
VisitLeadvilleco.com Twin Lakes information
Some more Interlaken history
Independence Pass history
More on Independence Pass
Colorado Central article on Independence Pass
And one last Independence Pass and Twin Lakes link