Friday, July 22, 2011

A Colorado Classic

Last week while visiting family in Colorado I was sitting around the breakfast table with my in-laws reading about an estate sale in the neighborhood.  The ad said they had a huge owl collection.  Jokingly I said that maybe they had the stuffed barn owl that I have wanted for the longest time.

My father-in-law said, "if you want to see some taxidermy then we need to go to the Buckhorn  Exchange!

Mind you, I lived in Colorado for 6 years in the 1980's, married a Colorado boy and yet had never heard of Denver's Oldest Restaurant until that moment!

We went online to make reservations for the following evening.

I guess we were destined to go the Buckhorn Exchange as my mother-in-law had recently received a birthday invitation in the mail entitling her to a discount in the amount of her age... 81%!

The minute we pulled up to this iconic building I knew I was in for a treat!

Just one step inside and I was lost inside a world filled with the best of west!

In fact I didn't even take my seat at the table for 20 minutes  as I walked around snapping photos of this World Famous Steakhouse that opened it's doors in 1893!

And wouldn't you know...

right inside the entrance, I looked up and there were my beloved barn owls!

From the time Buckhorn Exchange opened its doors it catered to cattlemen, miners, railroad builders, silver barons, Indian chiefs, roustabouts, gamblers and businessmen.

It seems that history, a square meal and a lusty drink always lived side-by-side at the Buckhorn.

Colorado's most historic eating and drinking emporium is now in its second century of operation.

The Buckhorn Exchange, which has liquor license Number One in the State of Colorado, was started in 1893 by Henry H. "Shorty Scout" Zeitz, easily recognized as one of the most colorful figures of the Early West.

In 1875, when Henry was only 10 years old, he met Col. William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody.

Within two years young Henry was a full-fledged member of the hard-riding, straight-shooting band of scouts.

It was during the years that Henry rode with Buffalo Bill that the great Indian leader, Chief Sitting Bull, dubbed him "Shorty Scout" due to his diminutive stature.

"Shorty Scout" Zietz became a lifelong friend to the Indian and when he died in July, 1949, the last of Cody's famous scout band was gone.

But it was his restaurant, the Buckhorn Exchange, that chronicled the lusty days of early Colorado.

President Theodore Roosevelt ate here and then went hunting with old "Shorty Scout."  Sitting Bull's nephew and a band of thirty Sioux and Blackfeet Indians come by one day and ceremoniously turned over to "Shorty" the military saber taken from the vanquished General George Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

It has always been the walls of the Buckhorn, however, that patrons have remembered through the 100-year plus history of the restaurant.

Rarely has there been a more complete collection of game--deer and moose; giant buffalo and mountain sheep; and all manner of indigenous fowl.

The fabulous gun collection includes Colt .45's, Winchesters, flintlocks, smooth bores, Derringers, repeating rifles and even a rare palm pistol.

The Buckhorn's magnificent ornate  white-oak bar and back-bar, made in Essen, Germany in 1857 was relocated to the second floor where it anchors the Buckhorn's Victorian lounge.

A splendid Roofgarten was added to serve the restaurant and its patrons.

The Buckhorn Exchange was featured in Life Magazine and Coronet Magazine in 1948 and in Holiday Magazine in 1949.

Since 1978 the Buckhorn has been written about in hundreds of newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and around the world, and been the subject of countless television shows and documentaries.

A great deal has changed at the Buckhorn since 1893, yet much is as it was in the days when the clientele packed six-guns, silver barons rubbed elbows with roustabouts, miners shook dirt out of their clothing along with the gold dust, and "Shorty Scout" entertained the customers with tales of the decade he spent on the frontier.

I still can't believe that this was the first time my husband and I had ever been here!

Believe me...

it won't be our last!

I can't wait to come back!

And yes, 

my sweet mother-in-law got 81% off her entree!


Unknown said...

Very neat place! Love all of the trophy racks. I was an art director at Outdoor Life magazine for many years. This place really reminds me of those days, thanks for this great post and fab pics too :) Looks like it was a lot of fun.

under spanish moss said...

What shocking and an eccentric place to visit! Looks like there could be many stories to tell in those walls.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Renee and Angela

Anonymous said...

I remember going there in the 60's with my family and always being bugged by one stuffed head staring at me (not my mother!). Years later I organized our department Christmas Party at the Buckhorn and, sure enough, there he was staring down at me yet again!. I hope you had the navy bean soup, the best next to the Senate/House cafeteria's. BTW, what a pleasure to see you went to CU when I was there. Resident Advisor in Baker Hall! Ahhhhh the 80's! Go Buffs!

Mary Ann Pickett said...

I hope your cute mother in law ordered the $48 buffalo steak. Fascinating story. Thanks.

Loui♥ said...

I had no idea you were here in Denver!! we could've met up and chatted a bit!!
secondly, I've not been there as I'd never heard of the place until now..
but believe me.. I will find it!!
wonderful post..
now come on over and see what's going on at my place..
a surprise birthday party!!

Atelier de Campagne said...

Ay Dios mio! It's an interesting place. Did you mentioned they serve aged venison? :) When I was a teen, we used to drive up to Oroville Washington, and along the way we would stop at a crossroads restaurant in Weed CA,for breakfast and it used to be decorated with all sorts of taxidermy animals. It was a mini museum. Us kids that it was neat, mom would stay in the car. "Pobrecitos animales" she'd say. Remind me to tell you a Far Side joke at the Alameda!


designchic said...

What a fun and fascinating place to visit. Hope your trip was wonderful!!

red ticking said...

dont feel bad ... i lived in colorado most of my life and have never heard of this place! will put it on my list for next time... it looks amazing... what an amazing collection... and your mother in law is adorable... xx

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

Sounds like you were in hog heaven. What a place!!! Filled with such rich interesting history. Love the 81% discount that your Mother'inlaw received. Fun times with family!

annie@mostlovelythings said...

How do I not know about this restaurant? I grew up in Denver! Most of my family still lives in Colorado. This is on my list next time i visit. The things you learn about on blogs! Thanks!

xo annie

Cashon&Co said...

now, THIS is my kind or rest-a-u-rant.
You gotta come to Texas though. We have mounted JACKELOPE ON THE WALL that would put that moose to shame.
roundtop is a callin.