The Rustic Hotel, built by Shep Husted.

Shep hired the architect W. C. Rogers to design the hotel on Shep's original homestead property. The Rustic Hotel opened for business in 1901, well before the Stanley Hotel.

From the Husted Family History by Fanny Husted, Shep's daughter, the following picture emerges.

The Rustic Hotel became a great deal of work for mother and father.
Shep was gone on guiding trips and Clara left to run the business, do the cooking and cleaning for the guests and raise a family.
Mr. Edwards, a lawyer from Denver, persuaded Shep and Clara to let him manage the hotel and Shep to be the secretary and treasurer. Then "the company" was formed. They finally lost the Rustic Hotel through the dealings of the company.

Comments made by Lou Livingston during a tour and oral history of the H-Bar-G Ranch in 1977 indicated that Shep had had some sort of legal problems with homesteading his land and that Mr. Edwards had helped Shep with his legal problems. As a result, Mr. Edwards was compensated with a partnership in the company.

It seems that a clearer understanding of the relationship of Shep to Mr. Edwards is needed and that the term "lost", as opposed to sold, needs to be better understood.

The current address and location of the old Rustic Hotel, later called the Lester Hotel and then the H-Bar-G Ranch:

3500 H-Bar-G Road, Estes Park, Colorado 80517
N 40° 25' 28'' W 105° 27' 23''
40.42471 / -105.45638

The following commentary on the Rustic Hotel is taken from:
"Estes Park & Rocky Mountain National Park, Then and Now"
Contemporary rephotogr
aphy by Mic Clinger
Text by James H. Pickering and Carey Stevanus

The Rustic Hotel, on the rim of Devils Gulch some 5 miles northeast of Estes Park, was built by Shepherd “Shep” Husted and opened for tourists in 1901. Husted and his wife Clara had come to Estes Park in 1893, located land, and in 1896 built a small log homestead cabin on the site. A larger cabin, named “Shep,” was erected close by a year later.
Deciding to enter the tourist business, the Husteds built additional cabins, and in 1900 began work on a two (actually three)- story lodge building, designed by local architect Henry C. Rogers. F. O. Stanley—who was photographed driving his steam car to the Husted’s during his first summer in the park in 1903—thought the view of the Front Range from the Rustic the finest in the park.
Although Shep personally served as the Rustic’s manager, the hotel was not a financial success. Part of the reason had to do with Husted himself. His love of the mountains was always more alluring than housing and feeding tourists. Husted was happiest when out on the trail on horseback, guiding his guests to some remote lake or mountaintop. In 1907, he sold the hotel to devote his time and attention to the career as guide and lecturer that made him locally and regionally famous. Enos A. Mills, whose own feats as guide and mountaineer were legendary, pronounced Husted “the most capable guide I have known.”
Following Husted’s departure, the Rustic was managed for several seasons by W. G. Edwards and then sold in 1912 to veteran hotel man Charles E. Lester. (Lester had been managing the Estes Park Hotel at the time it was destroyed by fire in August 1911 and was in search of a new opportunity). To signify his ownership and the hotel’s new beginnings, it was renamed Lester’s Hotel at the start of the 1913 season. In the two decades that followed, Lester developed the property and expanded its facilities. By the 1920s, there was not only the main lodge with its stone fireplace, lounge, and amenities but 10 adjacent cottages, a tennis court, and a livery.
In 1933, Lester exited the hotel business because of health, selling the 200-acre property and its buildings to Julian Livingston of Denver for $12,000. In 1935, Livingston reopened the property to the public as the H Bar G Ranch. (The “H” stood, of course, for Shep Husted; the “G” for Livingston’s sister, Helen Gates.) The H Bar G operated as a dude ranch through the 1958 season, with a capacity of 52 guests. Later, it became the H Bar G Ranch for Girls, and then a youth hostel. Now closed to the public, the property remains in the hands of the Livingston family. Today, as the contemporary photographs show, its 1896 homestead cabin (in the lower middle of the first photograph) and its main building look much as they did when Shep Husted erected them more than a century ago.

A view of the Rustic Hotel
"H-Bar-G Ranch Photograph,"

Photo of the Rustic Hotel, from "Estes Park & Rocky Mountain National Park, Then and Now"

"Sheps" cabin on the Rustic Hotel property
"H-Bar-G Ranch Photograph,"

The view from the hotel towards Estes Park and Longs Peak.
"H-Bar-G Ranch Photograph,"

Homestead Cabin.
"H-Bar-G Ranch Photograph,"

From Fall 1911 Estes Park Business Directory (OldEstes and John Meissner)

Map showing the location of the Lester Hotel in 1915.

From the Estes Park Trail (local newspaper)

30 June 1922 – Advertisement: Lester’s Hotel. American plan. Hotel and private cottages. Excellent tables, well stocked trout streams, tennis courts, saddle and driving horses. Our own dairy farm furnishes our milk, cream, butter, and eggs. Telephone or write for rates and reservations. Charles E. Lester and company. Telephone #4 J-2. Estes Park, Colorado.

Other views of the Rustic Hotel as a Youth Hostel, 1997. (Miguel Angelm photo)

(Miguel Angelm photo)

The H-Bar-G Ranch was run as a guest ranch by Helen Gates until 1959. The Ranch was then turned into a girls camp for seven years. After that the Peace Corp used the Ranch for four years. The Youth Conservation Corps used the property for a while and then from 1977 until 1999, the property was used as a youth hostel. American Youth Hostels, now Hostelling International. Lou Livingston, the owner, died in 1999 and the property is currently (2010) owned by his wife Anne. (Information from Julie Herrin, Lou's eldest daughter).

Map showing H-Bar-G Ranch at the bottom, with the old road to Loveland. From

Gate at the entrance of the H-Bar-G Ranch. Gate was made in the 1930s by Harvey Eldridge who was caretaker/ranch foreman for the property for 7 1/2 years. The gate allowed those on horseback to open and close the gate without dismounting. (Information from Julie Herrin.)

Photo courtesy of Mark Barber.

Helen Gates on the left, John R. (Jack) Eaton on the right. 1935 photo courtesy of Mark Barber, Jack's grandson.

Photo courtesy of Mark Barber.

Card sent by Helen Gates to Mark Barber's parents.