Postcard from the Past - Hotel is Stockmen’s HeadquartersWritten by Dick Perue
In its heyday, more than 1,000 head of cattle were shipped, flocks of sheep were sheared, tons of hay were stacked and half the land in Carbon County was swapped “daily” from the Ferris Hotel Bar and Restaurant in downtown Rawlins.
At least, that was what was “reported”when stockmen and old timers gathered at the historic watering hole and meeting place for over a century.
Dubbed “Rawlins’ Finest,” construction of the Ferris Hotel began in January 1901 with the grand opening being April 7, 1902. It was built by the Ferris Hotel Co. and named after its major investor, F.H. Ferris.
The structure, a three-story 100 by 125 foot building with 68 – or 72, depending on which story you read – guest rooms, was located on the corner of Buffalo and Fourth – just across the street from the Elks Lodge – and cost $75,000 to construct. Each room was 12 by 16 feet and had electric call bells, steam heat and electric lights.
The Hotel was fully stocked with quality furniture at an estimated cost of $15,000.
According to an article in the Rawlins Republican,there were five baths on the first floor and three on the second. The saloon and dining room were on the ground floor, and over the years, the hotel housed a rotunda, drug store, ice cream parlor, barber shop, tobacco store, gift shops, various offices and served as headquarters for ranchers and businessmen.
Rawlins Electric Light and Fuel was one of the Hotel’s first renters and occupied the basement while the lever that operated the town’s lighting system was located on the corner.
A host of dignitaries and famous folks, including Thomas Edison and his party, slept at the Ferris Hotel when in Carbon County.
According to the Rawlins Republican, “It is a modern hotel in every respect and will enable the landlord to provide accommodations equal to almost any hotel in a large city.”
After a century of grandeur in Rawlins, the Ferris Hotel was torn down, with little or no recognition or respect, in 2001 to make room for a parking lot. Yet, many old-timers still tell tales of business conducted at “Rawlins’ Finest Hotel.”