PINECLIFFE, Colo. (CBS4) – Nestled in Pinecliffe in the foothills of Colorado sits Winks Lodge, a significant piece of state and national history.
From 1928-1965 Colorado was home to this unique mountain retreat, one that welcomed African-Americans in a time when segregation restricted their choices. People of color could come to the Rocky Mountains in this safe, secure environment to enjoy themselves.
During its heydey people from all parts of the nation who had never seen the mountains stepped off the train to what might have seemed like a foreign country as they came to enjoy the great outdoors as guests of the lodge.
Aubrey Wendall Hamlet opened the resort and originally called it Panorama back in the 1920s. Over time the Lincoln Hills community simply became known as Winks Lodge. It was the only black-owned recreational facility west of the Mississippi and became a home away from home for many.
Gary Jackson helps to preserve the lodge today. His great grandfather built a cabin in the area at the same time the Winks Lodge was going up.
“You could feel comfortable, secure, safe. You had your dignity and were living the American dream for Black people,” says Jackson.
In its day, the Winks Lodge played host to prominent musicians like Duke Ellington or Lena Horne, who would stay there after playing jazz shows in Denver. The lodge also introduced generations of African American children to the outdoors, providing an education into a world they’d never seen.
As integration happened, the need for Winks Lodge as a haven for African Americans diminished, but it remains a unique part of the Rockies and our state’s history.
Winks Lodge is operated by Beckwourth Outdoors, a club that provides year-round activities. You can reserve the lodge and picnic area for day use by calling Gary Jackson at (303) 320-4848.
Get to Winks Lodge by taking Highway 93 north from Golden to Highway 72. Go west up Coal Creek Canyon and over the pass to Pinecliffe. The lodge is just outside of town.