Word of Mouth

Remembering Frank Finn of the Gold Hill Inn

The inn at Gold Hill, ten miles up from Boulder, has been around about as long as Colorado has been a state. Poet Eugene Field stayed there, and described his visits in "Casey's Table d'Hote," the first poem in his 1889 book A Little Book of Western Verse.

Oh, them days on Red Hoss Mountain, when the skies wuz fair 'nd blue, when the money flowed like likker, 'nd the folks wuz brave 'nd true! When the nights wuz crisp 'nd balmy, 'nd the camp wuz all astir, With the joints all throwed wide open 'nd no sheriff to demur!... And you, O cherished brother, a-sleepin' 'way out West, With Red Hoss Mountain huggin' you close to its lovin' breast,-- Oh, do you dream in your last sleep of how we used to do, Of how we worked our little claims together, me 'nd you? Why, when I saw you last a smile wuz restin' on your face, Like you wuz glad to sleep forever in that lonely place; And so you wuz, 'nd I'd be, too, if I was sleepin' so. But, bein' how a brother's love ain't for the world to know, Whenever I've this heartache 'nd this chokin' in my throat, I lay it all to thinkin' of Casey's tabble dote,

Frank Finn, who took over the inn with his wife, Barbara, and turned it into a legendary restaurant, loved to recite that poem, remembers his son, Brian, who now runs the Gold Hill Inn with his brother Chris.

Frank and Barbara had moved from Boulder to the old mining town of Gold Hill in 1960, and bought the ancient three-story hotel, the Bluebird Lodge, the next year.They settled their family into the hotel and in 1962 opened a gourmet restaurant in the adjacent dining hall, dubbed the Gold Hill Inn.

"Barbara created the elaborate, imaginative six-course dinners for which the restaurant has become known to visitors from around the world, and Frank became the beloved irreverent friend of countless men and women, young and old, from his station behind a bar where beverage offerings were top-shelf rather than common, and where his Irish wit and charm filled the air between the massive fireplaces." That's from the obit for Frank Finn, who passed away last month (Barbara died in 2006).

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 18, there will be a traditional Irish wake for Frank Finn at the Gold Hill Inn; anyone who knew his father -- or just loved the place he created -- is welcome, says son Brian.

The Gold Hill Inn is also holding a benefit on October 10 for the free, biodiesel bus that runs through the town that Frank Finn helped get on the National Historic Register; he also served as both mayor and fire chief of Gold Hill. You can read the complete obituary here; find more information on the Gold Hill Inn here.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun