Description

A rustic log lodge in the Medicine Bow National Forest
near Centennial, Wyoming.

National Register of Historic Places, 1976.

Imagine waking to the sounds of hummingbirds and the bubbling of nearby Libby Creek at your historic retreat in the Medicine Bow National Forest.

The Snowy Range Lodge was the largest and finest of five guest lodges originally built by entrepreneurs in the Medicine Bow National Forest west of Laramie, Wyoming. They were constructed in the teens and twenties, during emergence of the middle class when, for the first time in the U. S., people had the financial resources to travel. Unfortunately, only two of these lodges have survived the ravages of time.

The Snowy Range Lodge was originally called Libby Lodge for nearby Libby Creek. It is situated on a 2-acre lease in the “high country” (elevation 9250 ft) of 400,000-acre Medicine Bow National Forest. At 76 Barber Lake Road, it is 34 miles west of Laramie and three miles from Centennial. Construction of the 3-story structure, built entirely of logs cut on the site, began in 1919 and was completed in 1924 after several design changes.

There is a total of 7,442 square feet of interior space in the Lodge. It has a wrap-around exterior porch that is two stories high in the front. The 2,962 square foot main floor consists of a “Great Room” for gatherings, and a living room with a massive stone fireplace and vaulted ceiling. The fireplace, built of native river rock, was the work of “Pop” Schlotzer, a WWI veteran and local stone mason also known for his fine wood carvings. The fireplace heats the first floor, and even keeps the third floor cozy! In recent years as many as 200 guests have been accommodated at sit-down dinners in the Great Room. And there has usually been enough room left for live music and dancing at these events. Also on the main floor are two bathrooms and a kitchen with a very large wood-burning cook stove that has been modified to include stove-top electric burners. The stove is all that remains of the sheep-shearing camp on the once-sprawling ranch established by Francis E. Warren, Civil War veteran and first governor of the Wyoming Territory. Along with several fellow “cattle barons”, all members of the notorious Cheyenne Club, Warren was implicated in, but never charged with, murders committed during the 1892 Johnson County Cattle War.

The carpeted second floor has four bedrooms, a sitting room, and a large dining room. There is also a landing/balcony that leads to the second floor porch overlooking the forest and nearby Libby Creek. The second floor can be accessed by both a stairway and a hand-powered rope-pull elevator.

The third floor, currently the caretaker’s quarters, contains a bedroom and a huge open space with abundant light from six skylights. A propane boiler in an out building provides hot water heat to the kitchen, the first-floor bathrooms, and the entire second floor. The back door of the Lodge opens onto spring-fed Rosemary Lake, surrounded by a pine and aspen forest. Wild roses, Indian paintbrush (the Wyoming state flower), iris, and fireweed bloom on the property. Hummingbirds, mountain blue jays, ducks, and an occasional moose are frequent visitors.

The Lodge was originally designed in 1919 by Wilbur A. Hitchcock (1886-1930), a noted architect who designed many of the unique stone buildings on the campus of the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Several of these structures, including the Snowy Range Lodge, have since been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The current owners have a copy of the revised floor plans drawn up by Hitchcock in 1923.

The Lodge was once the primary building in a resort complex called the “The Laramie Snowy Range Resort.” Also included in the resort were ten log cabins, a horse barn and corrals, and a spring-fed fishing pond. The original foundation of the Lodge was made from huge stones recovered from the remains of cabins in “Silver City”, a nearby short-lived mining camp burned by Indians in the 1870s. During its heyday the Lodge and cabins offered overnight accommodations for up to 80 guests. At one time, a restaurant and general store were also housed in the building. The famous dance-band king of the 1920s and 30s, Glenn Miller, was said to have played music for a dance held in the Great Room. A local historian even claims that the old “rough rider” himself, Teddy Roosevelt, stayed there overnight during one of his numerous trips out west on the transcontinental railroad.

However, the resort business declined in the 1960s after one of the owners drowned in rain-swollen Libby Creek. The barn was later demolished, cabins were moved off the property, and the Lodge was abandoned. It sat vacant and forlorn, with broken windows, for several years until the current owners purchased the property in 1977 and paid the back taxes. Then in 1980 they began restoring the building following a pitched battle with the U. S. Forest Service. That battle was concluded when numerous concerned citizens and elected officials, including Wyoming’s Governor and it’s entire Congressional Delegation, intervened to save the historically significant structure from demolition. The ensuing restoration first involved stabilization by lifting the entire building two feet in the air and replacing the original stone foundation with reinforced concrete. The historically sensitive construction that followed, included many upgrades, and was completed in 1989. Then in 2008 a new galvanized metal roof was added to comply with Forest Service requirements.

The Lodge is 3.4 miles from the Snowy Range Ski Area (990 ft vertical drop with 33 trails) and 10 miles from 12,018 ft. Medicine Bow Peak. Hiking, biking, and back country ski trails are everywhere in the area. You can hike the Peak or even ski/snowboard on it during summer months! Guided whitewater rafting and float fishing can be booked in nearby Saratoga, Wyoming. Trout streams and lakes are abundant, gold can be panned (and has been found) in Libby Creek, and there are daily sightings of indigenous wildlife..

In the winter, unplowed Barber Lake Road becomes a favorite cross-country trail traversed by skiers each weekend. In fact, it is a blacktop spur of highway 130 that connects Centennial with Saratoga. The Hobo Hot Springs in Saratoga is a favorite winter-time stop-over where skiers and snowmobilers soak in steaming hot pools while breathing the clean, frosty winter air.  Nearby Centennial, a classic gold-mining town established on Independence Day in 1876, has a gas station, motels, cafes/bars with live music, a museum, a country store with crafts and handmade ice cream, a post office, and a library. Over the last few years many of the original miner’s cabins in Centennial have been repurposed as summer homes.

The Snowy Range Lodge is located in the heart of some of the finest outdoor recreation country in the entire U.S. As a result, the area attracts those interested in outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, rafting, skiing, snow-boarding, snowmobiling, etc. Current Lodge owners have a very active event business that includes family reunions, memorial services, weddings, and wedding receptions, etc. In fact Saint Albans, an outdoor wedding chapel, is just four miles up the road. The owners have also sponsored wildflower walks, writing and personal growth workshops, and have hosted teen and adult church groups at the Lodge.

Photographs taken inside and outside the Lodge, many by Lowell Hart, are appended hereto. To see other photos, please go to the link “Snowy Range Lodge.” However, this property is not to be confused with Snowy MOUNTAIN Lodge, which is located nearby but is entirely different with different owners.

Distance in miles to:
Denver,CO………….161
Steamboat Spgs, CO….133
Ft Collins, CO………97
Casper, WY…………175
Saratoga, WY………..46
Laramie, WY…………34
Interstate 80……….32
Centennial, WY……….3
Salt Lake City, UT….320
Yellowstone NP……..392

NOTE: Captions on some of the “thumbnail” images have been cropped, but all the images appearing in the “slide show” have full captions.

Details

Property ID
396001
4
Bedrooms
4
Bathrooms
Square Footage
7442
Lot Size
2.05
Year Built
1924
Updated on September 9, 2022 at 8:18 pm

Address

  • Address 76 Barber Lake Road
  • City Centennial
  • State Wyoming
  • Zip/Postal Code 82055
  • Country United States

Contact Agent

David + Jamie Egolf
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