Page 29 - CrestedButteNews

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2014
|
29
CRS, ABR, RSPS, SFR
(970) 209-4234
MollyInCrestedButte.com
Molly Eldridge
BUILDERS
SOPRIS
For all your building needs
Todd Carroll
970.209.9253
soprisbuilders.com |
The green, pink and white wooden trim looks like it
could be the original. Behind the narrow wooden en-
trance door is a shop that would not have been entire-
ly out of place a hundred years ago. Mounted trout,
deer and elk adorn the walls above where restaurant
patrons and miners ate before heading to work in
the coal mines. Look up to the second floor, through
the upstairs windows, and let your imagination flow
to where visitors and boarders lived and socialized a
century ago.
In the early 1900s the building was purchased by a
family named Murphy, who turned it into the hotel.
A room in the City Hotel went for $2.50 a night. Ac-
cording to George Sibley’s
A Crested Butte Primer,
the
hotel was more like a boarding house for miners dur-
ing the peak mining days of the 1920s. Some of the
rooms upstairs were even converted to apartments.
Sibley records, “In 1927, Frank Yelenick, a Yugosla-
vian immigrant and a coal miner, and his wife, Mary
Tezak Yelenick, bought the building from Mrs. Anna
Murphy.”
The Yelenicks had been married in 1925. Mary was a
schoolteacher but she quit to settle down with Frank
and raise a family. She would return to the classroom
after her children were grown and teach in the local
public schools until 1969. Eventually the town named
the park behind the current Crested Butte Center for
the Arts in her honor.
When the Yelenicks purchased the property, they
changed the name to the Western Hotel. According
to the
Primer
, Mary operated a restaurant in the front
part of the building where Dragonfly Anglers is now
located. While running the hotel, Frank continued to
work in the coal mines. In 1936 as the mining economy
became more and more unstable, the Yelenicks closed
the restaurant. The boarders were mainly young men
who had come to town to try their luck in the mines
and who were more transient than the families estab-
lished in the Crested Butte of that period. They more
easily left town when the work was unsteady.
“In 1947, with the miner’s life beginning to take a
toll on his health, Frank Yelenick left the mines and
opened up the Crested Butte Liquor Store in a part
of the old restaurant,” Sibley wrote. That liquor store
closed in 1985.
The storefront today, with its fishing flies, outdoor gear
and maps, is directed to the area’s tourism. While the
town’s economy still depends on the earth—120 years
since the building was built in a growing coal mining
town—the clean air and streams are now the valley’s
tourism fuel. While you can’t rent a room in the old
Western Hotel anymore, you can rent some fishing
gear and a guide and head out to the nearby streams
and rivers to try your luck—not in the mines, but
in the pristine natural bounty surrounding Crested
Butte.