April 1, 2009

Making her own history
Barbara Tripp has run Glen Isle resort for more than six decades

By Nicole Queen

As March drew to a close, so did Women’s History Month.

But a woman doesn’t need to be documented in a history book to have made a difference in the world.

She can be a person who touches the lives of others on a day-to-day basis.

Barbara Tripp, 85, is one such woman — with her own story. She graduated from University of Colorado at Boulder. She was the wife of a World War II soldier and a nurse to him later in life. She bore two children and adopted three more.

And all the while, she was the innkeeper, hostess, chef and preservationist for a bit of Colorado’s own history — the Glen Isle Resort, which overlooks the South Platte River off U.S. 285 in Bailey.

Tripp was born in 1923 in Greeley, and that event would lead to Glen Isle being a part of her life forever. Her grandparents, Arthur and Sarah Baldwin, came to Colorado from Michigan to see their newborn granddaughter. While here, the Baldwins fell in love with the state and decided to move here. Their destination of choice? Glen Isle.

The couple renovated the vacated lodge, which was built in 1900 and was once the rest stop for Denver-bound travelers whose train stopped at the small station in Bailey.

“Since I was young, I spent all my vacations up (at Glen Isle),” Tripp said.

Her favorite memory of the resort was taking horseback trips with her grandfather when she was young.

“Sometimes, he’d fall asleep on the way back,” she said. “And I’d be on the saddle, about 2 or 3 years old, and the horse always knew the way home.”

Because Tripp’s father was a superintendent for the Great Western Sugar Co., the family was a bit nomadic. They moved from Greeley to Denver when Tripp was 2 years old and to Eaton when she was 5.

When she was a sophomore in high school and the family moved once more to Ovid, on a prairie covered with wheat fields, Tripp knew where she was meant to be.

“All I could think about was getting back to the mountains, to Glen Isle,” she said.

When it was time to go to college, Tripp chose Scripps College in California. However, when the U.S. entered World War II, her family asked her to move back to Colorado, fearing California would be bombed. She graduated from CU with a double degree in sociology and psychology.

“I always thought that I never really used my degree,” Tripp said. “But my mother said I used it plenty at Glen Isle.”

Through her college years, Tripp never forgot Glen Isle. After she graduated, she went back to help her grandparents run the resort.

Tripp met her husband, Gordon, a forest ranger in Bailey, and in 1944 they were married on the CU campus. In January 1945, Gordon was shipped to Germany to serve in a field artillery unit.

“I wrote a letter every day he was gone,” Tripp recounted. “And I sent a package every week with crazy things. He loved to read, so I sent lots of little paperback books, and one time I sent a bunch of yo-yos. What a crazy thing to send, but he said the guys loved them.”

While Gordon was away, Tripp took over Glen Isle full-time. It was the start of 61 years running the resort, and of building many more memories.

When the war was over, Gordon was sent home, and the Tripps started a family. They had five children, three of them adopted.

“Adopting the kids was so exciting,” she said. “It was fun to run the resort and look after the kids. For over 50 years, I cooked three meals a day. With five children and lodgers, it was hard. I look back and wonder how I did it all, but I guess I had lots of pep.”

In 1998, Gordon was diagnosed with the debilitating disease Guillain-Barre syndrome. Tripp had one of the resort’s cabins turned into a hospital of sorts for her husband, and she took turns with nurses taking care of him while continuing to run the resort.

“I had to work pretty hard because I had to do a lot of stuff he did before, like maintenance stuff,” she said. “We had trained nurses to take care of him around the clock, and I still ran the business.”

Her husband died after a 14-month fight.

Her children are now grown with families of their own, but Tripp still lives at Glen Isle and rents out the nine cabins on the property to lodgers in the summertime. Tripp turned the 14-room lodge, declared a National Historic Site in 1985, into a private museum with antique furniture and other historic items.

“A lot of people love to look at the things there,” she said.

Tripp said some of her lodgers go back five generations of Glen Isle regulars.

“We have a family that comes that’s the fifth generation since I’ve been here,” she said. “Their kids get married, and they come back and their kids come. It’s real fun to know everybody.”

Although it’s getting more difficult to run the resort on her own, Tripp said she is dedicated to operating it for as long as she can. Through her life, the historic Glen Isle has been a constant, and she plans to keep it that way.

Contact Nicole at nicole@evergreenco.com

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As a follow on to Nicole's article, I have added the following links to the Park County Local History Archives photo galleries.

Glen Isle
Glen Isle Wait Station

My Woodside Home Page