History in a hotel | VailDaily.com

History in a hotel

Kathy Heicher

Courtesy/Eagle County Historical Society

In 1887, a man named William Edwards claimed 156 acres at the mouth of Brush Creek, and laid out a town site that he called “Castle.” The first business establishment in the new town was a general merchandise store, contained in a tent. Edwards’ intent in founding a town was probably to set up a supply base for the miners who were searching for gold and silver in the Brush Creek Valley.

By 1890, the settlement had been re-named “Eagle River Crossing,” and had a population of 25 residents.

The mining economy didn’t last long, but ranching did. In 1905 , the town of Eagle was incorporated on what was once the “Castle” town site. During the past 98 years, there’s been a lot of changes. For many decades, the economy of the area was driven by agriculture.

In 1920, county voters agreed to move the county seat from Red Cliff to Eagle. The early 1960s marked the start of the Vail ski resort in the valley and a change in the local economy from agriculture to tourism. It was the start of a growth boom that continues today.

During this holiday week, the Enterprise, with the assistance of the Eagle County Historical Society photo archives, takes a look back at some of the changes the community has witnessed over the past century.

The Ping Hotel

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Originally built in 1892, the now-dilapidated building on the corner of U.S. Highway 6 and Capitol Street is the structure people most ask about in town.

Originally built by C.F. “Charley” Nogal, the building featured a total of 13 rooms, including eight bedrooms. At one time, the Nogal family rented space to 26 boarders. Water for the hotel was hauled from the Eagle River; and fuel wood was cut by hand.

The hotel served railroad workers, miners and transients. During boom times, Mrs. Nogal served supper and breakfast for 80 men. A typical menu consisted of venison, potatoes, biscuits, fruit and coffee.

The property was bought by the Otis A. Ping family in 1923. The Pings branched out the commercial aspects of the building by adding two wings out back and some detached motel units. Minnie Ping was reportedly the driving force in the business venture, and her husband, Otis, did the work. The Pings installed a gas station at the hotel, featuring a glass-bubble pump. One of the Pings’ sons, Leonard, once operated a photography lab in the building, and was known for good-quality photographic work.

The building has not been used for more than 30 years.