Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Fine Dining in 1870s Colorado

Think about Christmas and you’re either wondering about gifts or food.  With me, it was the latter, and from there I began to think about what those poor old-timers of the west had for Christmas.  Not such poor offerings by the look of it—at least not for some.  Think of the Cheyenne Club up in Wyoming (see ) or the Hotel de Paris down in Georgetown, CO.
Georgetown in the 1870s was the second largest city in Colorado, developed during the silver-mining boom and further enhanced with the arrival of the Colorado Central Railroad in 1877. The proprietor of the Hotel de Paris was a mystery man, one Louis Dupuy,
Louis Dupuy
who had come to Georgetown for work. Born Adolphus François Gerard in Alençon, France, around 1844, Dupuy managed to spend his entire inheritance in a short time and headed off to London and New York to work as a reporter. Accused of plagiarism in NYC, he joined the U.S. Army and was shipped off to Cheyenne with a desk job.
There is no doubt Dupuy was learned—he spoke French, German, English and Latin—and was also interested in philosophy, but he was also something of a scoundrel, and his time in Cheyenne was short-lived. This is the point at which he seems to have changed his name, deserting the Army and ending up under his new moniker at The Rocky Mountain News reporting on mining. When his job took him to Georgetown, he switched gears yet again and became a miner himself. Injured in an explosion at The Silver Plume Mine as he tried to save a fellow miner, the townspeople gifted him enough money to rent a bakery.  He was able to purchase this outright within a few years and turn it into the Hotel de Paris with restaurant.

Imported linens, elegant crystal and Limoges china set the tone of the place, but it was the food which drew the great and the good from all over the country. Delicacies were brought in by train, steaks came from Dupuy’s own ranch, fine foodstuffs were imported from France. In March, 1879, nine men dined at the Hotel representing over two hundred million dollars.  This included pioneer railroad investor, businessman and Lt. Governor of CO, W.A.H. Loveland (for whom Loveland, CO, is named) and railway magnate Jay Gould, President of the Union Pacific. On the menu were oysters on the half shell, soup, Pheasant in Casserole and a Venison Cutlet with Sauce Piquante, Sweetbreads Eugenie, vegetables, apple fritters, salad, French bread, Peach Charlotte with brandy sauce, and, of course, Petits Fours with coffee. Gould said it was the best meal he’d ever had.
Jay Gould

W.A.H. Loveland

Louis Dupuy contracted pneumonia and passed away in 1900. The Hotel de Paris is now a museum and on the National Register of Historic Places and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is managed and owned by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America.

While Loveland, Colorado, may still be on your mind, my own book Loveland makes fine Christmas reading.
When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society --and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life... Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can't seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he's got to keep more than his temper under control. Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?
Available at and all fine booksellers

1. photo Louis Dupuy public domain via Wikimedia Commons
2. photo Hotel de Paris public domain
3. photo Jay Gould, restored Bain News Service, orig. Library of Congress
4. photo of William A.H. Loveland, from an engraving published in the 19th century, public domain via Wikipedia 


Patti Sherry-Crews said...

Informative post as always, Andrea! I read the book Doc about Doc Holiday and the one thing I remember being surprised about was how well these characters ate in the restaurants. Even in such rough places like Tombstone they were dining from menus just as you describe. We have such notions of the old west but really, but just like good eating and that doesn't change.
Your book looks awesome! Lots of interesting and fresh elements. Happy Holidays to you too!

Andrea Downing said...

Thanks for the compliment Patti. As for the book, Loveland, it deals with a part of western history I don't think is often included in books--the British aristocracy that ran so many of the cattle companies, at least up until the winter of 1886/7. They were living the high life and eating well, I promise.

Renaissance Women said...

Alway been interested in Louis and his exploits, but hadn't had time to dig into them. Thank you for getting me started with so much information.

Best on the book, and hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year. Doris