Grand Lake Colorado History & Our History
June 12, 1915, was the Grand Opening of the Rapids Lodge built by John Lapsley Ish and his family. The lodge had running water and baths, with electricity provided by an “overshot” water wheel in the nearby Tonahutu River. Ish built his own sawmill on the site, constructing the lodge from the plentiful lodgepole pines in the area.
J.L. Ish was three months old when he left Missouri in a covered wagon with his parents and he was six months old when they reached Denver in 1863. The family, including eleven children, lived on a farm outside of Denver.
In 1881, when Laps Ish was 18 years old, he came to Grand County, staking claims outside of the mining town of Teller in the mountains north of Grand Lake, Colorado. He mined for 4 years and stories about him abound. He carried mail from Teller to Grand Lake, Colorado, going winter times on skis or snowshoes; he preferred skis. Often the 8′ snow pole he carried would not reach the bottom of the deep snow on his mountainous journey. Ish thought it was a mere hike to walk from Teller over Cameron Pass and down the Cache La Poudre Canyon into Ft. Collins. Once he carried two kegs of pickles into Teller, thrilled to deliver them to the miners who relished the pickles with their wild meat.
While still occasionally trying his luck with mining, Ish married and homesteaded with his family near Rand. He built the Rand Hotel, operating it with his wife until 1910. After a brief stay in California, they moved to Granby, built the Middle Park Auto Company garage and ran a stage line to Grand Lake, Colorado. The Ish Family operated the Rapids Lodge in Grand Lake, Colorado for many years. The Pine Cone Inn was also constructed by him and managed by his son, Leslie.
“To J. L. Ish, pioneer days were not days of hardships and privations. Life was teeming with enthusiasm and thrills, with hard work thrown in. He loved the open country and driving a car did not give him any more pleasure than a walk among the pines and the creeks of his beloved mountains.”
Obituary – Middle Park Times, Jan 14, 1943