Adjust story text size:
Squirrel Creek Road was built between 1920 and 1922, linking Beulah (Mace) to Fairview (Second Mace). In 1927, Clifford and Tena built themselves a house, a large log lodge and five small one-room log cabins. Soon the sign went up: Baver-Li-Lodge. Named by Tena, ‘Beaver (baver) Mountain Meadow (li)’ in her native Norwegian for the beavers that still build their damns all along Middle St. Charles Creek forming nice fishing holes.
Meals were served family style. Tena was known for her pan-fried chicken cooked on a wood (and later) a coal stove, her homemade jelly and baked goods. She made all the “bread, pies and cakes for those who dined at the lodge.” Sometimes campsites were rented with the understanding that the campers would eat their meals at the lodge.
In the late 1920’s, a typical room and board fee was $1 to $3 per day. Later, visitors from ‘back east’ would come to spend a week, paying $4.50 a day. Local families like the Kings, Thatchers and Hougues would come up for dinner—often on Sundays. Later, Bob Jackson’s parents came up during the week to sit on the front porch all afternoon and play rummy.
Before the crash in 1929, the Missouri Pacific Railroad officials came to Baver-Li wanting to buy the property. Mrs. Moses recalled in 1967, “I had such an ambition that I didn’t want to sell, and I’ve never regretted it.”
The Baver-Li-Lodge also served as a polling-place; a gathering place; and held dances. Early dances had Charlie Aiken fiddling, Herbert Bigelow playing the saw and his brother, Glenn singing the calls for square dancing. Later, on dancing evenings, Ruth Moses dressed up and was considered very fashionable for the time. She was also great at whistling. Often asked, she would stand on the steps and whistle popular tunes.
Ruth Moses eventually earned her living in show business. She sang in nightclubs across the United States. She married Chester Steigerwalt who was born in Harrisburg, PA and was a commercial artist and salesman. They had one son, Charles ‘Chuck’.
Chuck grew up at the Baver-Li-Lodge with his grandmother, Tena. He describes her as a “tough old lady who held it together for 30 years by herself.” She supervised the hired help; bought supplies; and maintained the property. Tena skied down Squirrel Creek to Beulah in the winter to buy essentials which she carried in a backpack home to the Lodge.
Tena Moses turned heads in Beulah as the mysterious attractive woman “that lived up there in the mountains alone.” Although there was talk, the old-timers recalled no one ever went to investigate as they were afraid of her.
Chuck remembers two-day shopping trips to Pueblo with his grandmother. The first day they would purchase non-perishable items and stay at the Congress Hotel. The next day they would buy 100 pounds of ice and all the perishables to return to Fairview—this before electricity arrived in 1952 from San Isabel.
The telephone line had been installed through Squirrel Creek by the Forest Service in the 1920’s. As their private line, Tena and later, grandson, Chuck, had to maintain it. Every spring one of them would ‘walk the line’ to find where the breaks had occurred and repair them. One year the Boy Scouts from Rye came up to help.
Chuck remembers the lovely shelter lodge and cabins at the Squirrel Creek Campground. He described two of the cabins as “works of art.” He was devastated the summer of 1979 when he discovered the Forest Service had burned them down.
To Be Continued.....
Sources: interviews with Chuck Steigerwalt and Dick Bigelow; Pueblo Star Journal December 3, 1967 article by Grace Lowe provided by John E. Korber