by Greta Hanson Maurer
Among Beulah’s earliest white settlers, John Jacob Sease first claimed the beautiful land along the Beulah Valley’s south east side in 1865. The land along South Creek was prized open farm land, nearby abundant water, and within close proximity to lumber on the forested hillside. As more families moved into the picturesque valley, the need for a formal school became evident.
In 1871, the benevolent Sease donated seven acres of his property for Beulah’s first public school (District 14), choosing the idyllic location on the south side of the creek, now known as 8695 Pine Drive. Sease also donated the materials to build the one-room log school, which served its purpose until 1888 when a new, larger school was built just west of the Beulah Methodist Church, in a location more densely populated with full-time Beulah residents.
The abandoned school house did not sit empty for long, soon an upgraded and enlarged two-story structure would be added to the school, and Mt. Signal Hotel would open its doors to visitors. According to the Beulah Historical Society, the hotel was a retreat for people who had tuberculosis. Beulah’s spring water, and the ‘thin’ mountain air were considered therapeutic.
At the turn of the century, a growing number of Pueblo citizens escaped the oppressive summer heat by heading to the nearby Wet Mountains, and Beulah was bustling with growth and activity. The heady mix of spruce, ponderosa and fir trees scented the air; nature brought peace, contentment and reprieve. The shaded and cool north facing slopes of Pine Drive had larger lots for building summer homes, compared to other very narrow lots that were meant to simply accommodate a tent. “But for largest number of Puebloans who are rusticating, Beulah is still in the lead, and several hundred from the city are now comfortably spending these heated days in that popular nearby resort.”1
By 1921, the hotel and grounds referred to as the ‘old Whitlock property’ would spark excitement when Beulah’s ‘summer residents’ of Pine Drive—also Pueblo’s most prominent citizens—would file articles of incorporation with the Pueblo County Clerk for the newly envisioned Beulah Country Club. The club agreed to assist county authorities in improving the road to Beulah.
After adopting a constitution and bylaws, the newly incorporated Beulah Country club organization included 25 founding members, all of whom were also Beulah property owners. Original incorporators of the exclusive club (and their professional backgrounds) include F. H. Bullen (Bridge Building), F. E. Parks (inventor and politician), J. H. Thatcher (banker), C. A. Pannebaker (coal), E. R. Chew (water engineer, mines, politician), T. N. Young (lumber and mines), C. N. Power (baking company), L.G. Walker (transportation/shipping) and W. L. Anderson (coal). A complete list of original members can be found on page 4. Eventually, the popular club opened to non-Beulah residents; however, the club rules capped their total membership at 150 for the year.
After purchasing the property and unassuming building, plans were set in motion to renovate the hotel into a hubspot for the social families. Additions of both a supper room and 36’ x 60’ ball room2 with Maple floor were quickly set in motion. “The main building will be remodeled in rustic style, with a large porch extending around two sides. The reception room will have double French windows. French doors lead into the large ball room with an eight foot fire place between the French Doors.”
With just one photo (shown above) of the Beulah Country Club known to be in existence, written details provide the best insight of the interior. “The exterior of the building will be remodeled as to represent a rustic cottage. Cobble stones will be used in the construction of chimneys, mantles. While the porch pillars will be of strong tree trunks with projects of boughs left for effectiveness of appearance.”3
Just three months later in May, invitations were sent for an ‘informal opening’ to the ‘socially prominent in Pueblo and the Arkansas Valley’, and additional news of the extensive updates to the new club. “Chimneys form the rear of large fireplaces on the outside of the structure and are constructed of stones in their natural shapes. A broad veranda, cobblestoned for a railing and with a cement floor surrounds three fourths of the building. The building is one story and a half high, and so arranged that the caretakers may live at the place.”4
At the same time, a revolutionary Delco® electric plant (a system that stored energy in batteries) was installed in the building and fresh mountain water piped to the kitchen and cloak rooms in the clubhouse.
Later that summer, 500 invitations were sent out for the ‘formal opening’ on July 16, 1921. Attendees of the July event were met with wildflowers, ferns and palms adorning the interior, and the sounds of a seven-piece orchestra, hired to play from 8:00pm to midnight.
The society columns of the Pueblo papers in the summer and fall of 1921 were filled with descriptions of parties, dances, receptions, and celebrations held at Beulah Country Club for members and their families.
In 1922, a separate building was constructed to accommodate overnight guests, and included eight separate rooms/cabins. The long building backed to the creek, with bathrooms and showers located at both ends of the long building. As a young geology student, local Ken Wahl spent the summer in the ‘dormitories’ in 1956 as a geology student. The structure burned in 1964.
On December 22, 1927 a $50,000 bond5 (equivalent to $750,00 today) was issued to generate funds to expand the Beulah Country Club grounds. The 50-acre Kendall Ranch (owned now by Ken and Ilona Wahl) to the north of the property was purchased to facilitate the dream of creating a 9-hole golf course and swimming pool, neither of which came to fruition.6
Despite the big dreams for the club, in 1930 the interest payments on the bonds issued were in default and the Beulah Country Club was no more.
In 1934, the grand building saw a brief revival with new owner W. Gordon Ward who operated the building as a ‘clubhouse.’ Open now to the general public, the facility was available for dinner, dancing and overnight accommodations. Luncheons, dances, bridge parties hosted 100 people out to the welcoming location according to social columns in the newspapers.
Curiously, Ward’s name appears on the original Beulah Country Club sign found locally at Triple K Ranch with the original officers and directors names crossed out, and his name proudly added to the bottom.
In Aug. 1936, Ward sold the property to Harry R. Shadburn of Co. Springs. Mr. Shadburn made plans for extensive remodeling “at the cost of several thousand dollars,” and contemplated calling the new venture Beulah Lodge.7
On May 17, 1940 the Beulah Country Club burnt to the ground under suspicious circumstances. “Despite strong protests of valley residents, he [Shadburn] converted it into a plush nightclub. Liquor long had been barred from the valley. Many properties had deeds stipulating they would be voided if liquor was taken on the premises.”8
Today, two large areas on the property still reveal evidence of ash and burnt wood in the location of the buildings that once stood. Gophers who inhabit the area have brought up pieces of dishes and tell-tale debris.
Mike and Maureen DeJongh purchased the historic seven acres in 2019. Mindful of the energy they give and receive from their land, they have become tender stewards of the renowned location. They even re-started the longstanding tradition of hosting visitors by making a small bungalow, called ‘Whispering Pines’ available for rent. If only those trees could talk! v
1 Social Column, Colorado Daily Chieftain, Aug. 3, 1902.
2 “Mount Signal Hotel”, The Colorado Daily Chieftain, March 6, 1921
3 “Beulah Country Club’s Home Contract Has Been Awarded”, Colorado Daily Chieftain, February 27, 1921.
4 “Invitations Being Sent Out for Opening of Newly Organized Beulah Country Club”, The Pueblo Chieftain, May 29, 1921.
5 “Late Events in Colorado”, Surface Creek Champion, Dec. 22, 1927.
6 Tour Beulah’s Historic, Unusual and Forgotten Places by Marilyn Klipfel Brehe, 2013
7 “Shadburn Buys Beulah Club”, The World-Independent, Aug. 24, 1936.
8 “Temperance”, newspaper article clipping in Beulah Historical Society BCC records, unknown publication and date.
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