Winter Park Chamber honors Chuck Graves with Pioneer Award
November 24, 2008
“Chuck” Graves was just a boy when his parents founded Hideaway Park, long before it became known as Winter Park.
In 1932, his mother, Helen, was sitting on a rock on the banks of Vasquez Creek with his father, Linus Oliver “Doc” Graves, admiring the area, when she told him it had to be one of the most beautiful spots on the earth.
His parents then purchased 10 acres of land that stretched on both sides of U.S. Highway 40 just south of the Vasquez Creek Bridge. The property included portions of the land where the current Hideaway Park and 7-Eleven are now.
Graves, 84, was 6 years old when his family moved to Hideaway Park.
“There was nothing at Hideaway Park,” he said. “It was really, really beautiful.”
Doc built a little town called Hideaway Park, which included 26 tourist cabins and a multi-faceted cafe and service station operation called Doc’s Place. He also installed a water wheel on Vasquez Creek, which generated all the electricity necessary to operate his business. The construction of the Moffat Water Tunnel, which was parallel to the railroad tunnel, helped the local economy. Within two years the village added three more businesses and nearly doubled its population at a time when the entire country was in a serious depression.
“We were always busy,” Graves said. “Winters were slower because of the weather.”
“In those days they couldn’t keep the pass open with the snow and everything,” Graves added.
The Winter Park-Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce recently awarded Chuck Graves the Pioneer Award. The Chamber started the Pioneer Award last year to recognize individuals and families who were instrumental in the development of the community. The board and the Citizen of the Year Committee select the recipient, according to Executive Director Catherine Ross.
Graves, who now resides in Englewood, was born in Tabernash on Sept. 1, 1924. The town was created in 1912 to build a roundhouse and workshops to operate and maintain the “monster Mallie locomotive” necessary to ferry the heavy freight trains over the Continental Divide in the wintertime, Graves said.
Doc owned a drug store business, Graves Drug Store, in Tabernash, and was given the nickname “Doc” because of his drug store affiliation. Business was booming and the town had a population of nearly 1,000.
In 1927, the Moffat Tunnel opened and the giant Mallie engines were no longer needed. This caused disaster in Tabernash and in a short time the population decreased to just more than 100 people.
The Graves’ stayed in Hideaway Park for four years, before building another tourist camp called Crescent Camp in Grand Lake. Chuck Graves left Grand Lake when he was 13 years old, to “go see the world.”
“I just wanted to see what the world looked like,” he said, adding that he had a happy childhood in Grand County.
He traveled to different parts of the country and later joined the Army in WWII. He received a master’s degree from Denver University, and became a contractor and homebuilder. He has built housing projects in Denver and Fort Collins.
Winter Park will install a plaque in Hideaway Park next summer to commemorate Graves’ parents during a formal dedication.
Graves was married to his wife Gaby for 60 years. She passed away three years ago. He has two sons and a daughter; six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, most of whom live in Colorado. The Graves still visit Grand County.
“My family has come up forever ” we love the place,” he said. “It’s still beautiful and it’s always going to be.”
” Katie Looby covers government and education for the Sky-Hi Daily News. You may reach her at 887-3334 ext. 19601 or email@example.com.