Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Week 19: Old Town Carriage Ride
‘Tis the season. Hustling and bustling, a few excesses in the food and drink department, one too many shopping excursions. But it’s also the season to find some magical moments. Kids don’t need reminding of Christmas magic, but adults sometimes do. And for us, those moments tend to be less about the frenzy and more about the quiet times when we can stop and take a deep breath and appreciate some of the other gifts of the season.
My family and I discovered that a carriage ride in Old Town provided a perfect opportunity to do just that. In the waning light of one of the shortest days of the year, we enjoyed a horse-drawn tour of downtown. As the tree lights winked on to the sound of clopping hooves, I sat back and imagined Fort Collins as it once was. It was not difficult to do as we passed slowly by the Northern Hotel and the Old Firehouse, which have stood sentinel over downtown since the early days of Fort Collins.
Our friendly driver Tammy, of Colorado Carriage and Wagon, chatted with us as she guided the stalwart horse Annie Oakley past the Fort Collins Museum (when I was very young, it housed the public library) on Mathews Street and then back north on Remington to Old Town. We talked Fort Collins history, and came up with a few questions.
We wondered about the significance of The Abbott House at 230 Remington. All I could find out was that Malinda Maxwell Loomis gave the lot to Frank and Lulu May Abbott. The walls of the house were three bricks thick, and it cost $4000 to build.
To our credit, we knew that the building at 202 Remington Street, which currently houses St. Peter’s Fly Shop, was once a hospital. It is the McHugh house, known as the “House of the Mayors” because Mayor Harris and Mayor McHugh both called it home. It took three years to build, after which a carriage house was added. Mayor McHugh was also a doctor and saw patients in the carriage house.
Our ride combined local history, seasonal beauty, and a welcome break from my holiday to-do list. Weather permitting, Annie Oakley and her friends will be giving Old Town rides through the holidays, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It's a wonderful experience, and the perfect stand-in for a one-horse open sleigh.