Please help us rebuild the historic River Forks Inn!

For: The River Forks Inn, Drake, Colorado
Organizer: Family of Bill and Ann Jones
Please help us rebuild the historic River Forks Inn! (The River Forks Inn, Drake, Colorado)
of $50,000 goal.
Raised by 47 donors
8% Complete
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

Drake, Colorado is one of the places that took the brunt of the raging floodwaters that rushed through the Big Thompson Canyon on September 12 and 13, 2013. The River Forks Inn sits at the confluence of the North Fork of the Big Thompson River and the Big Thompson River in Drake. Both rivers rose and dumped 2-3 feet of water, debris and mud into the inn. The owners Bill and Ann were evacuated by helicopter and unable to take anything with them. Now that the water has receded, a foot of heavy, wet mud remains throughout the building, and there is a lot of damage. The outdoor spaces are now ruined: the charming riverside campsites with full hookups, the shady beer garden, and the outdoor stage and lawn that hosted numerous concerts, weddings, barbeques and parties.

The River Forks Inn and Stage Stop has a long and colorful history. Beginning in 1905, the River Forks hosted travelers on the way to Estes Park. In the early years, it was a stage stop where travelers had a meal or stayed overnight while horses were fed and watered or changed out during the journey.

In more recent years, the River Forks has been known for a great place to camp by the river, stay overnight in one of their western-themed rooms, or enjoy a burger and beer. Many memorable weddings and concerts were held in the event center behind the inn, next to the river. Are you one who has enjoyed a beer while listening to live music at the bar, or outside on a lovely summer’s evening in the event center? Or maybe you came for the Karaoke, or to warm yourself by the fire, or for a Halloween or Christmas party. Maybe you’ve attended a summer wedding in the outdoor grassy area next to the river while you admired the spectacular surroundings.

Bill and Ann Jones purchased the River Forks in 2004 as a “retirement” project. They refurbished the building, remodeled the entire second story, paved the parking lot, drilled a new well, added full hookups to the campsites, and made many other improvements over the last nine years. The River Forks is the hub of Drake, and Bill and Ann have been a friend to many of the locals over the years.

Rebuilding the River Forks is important to the town of Drake and the residents of Storm Mountain and the Big Thompson Canyon, as well as to Bill and Ann and their family. A landmark for over 100 years, it still stands, but will need major work after the devastation, a highly expensive undertaking. Bill and Ann, like many canyon folks, were not insured for such a loss.

Please help us rebuild the historic River Forks Inn and Stage Stop! Your donations are much appreciated!

If you prefer to pay by check, make checks payable to the "River Forks Inn Rebuilding Fund" and mail to Bill and Ann Jones, 2938 N Madison, Loveland, CO 80538.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on November 2, 2013

Posted on November 2, 2013

Early this week, Bill, Ann, and Nina came to the River Forks to meet a team of 8 people who volunteered to help us. The day was cold and dreary, and the devastation everywhere was hard to get a grasp on--you just didn't know where to start. As one volunteer said that day, "How do you eat an elephant?" One bite at a time.

So that's where we started, with a variety of volunteers each day for the whole week. Some days we had 9 people, some days there were as many as 14 who pitched in and worked their hearts out. They moved furniture to where it would be safe and dry, or they threw it in the ever growing rubbish heap by the street. They pulled off soggy, moldy drywall, and ruined carpet. They shoveled the remaining mud under sinks, in closets, and in all the nooks and crannies where it had invaded everything. They unhooked sinks with rotten, moldy cabinets. They pumped out the water in the crawlspace. They pulled up the oak floor and piled the wood outside. They removed caked on, dried mud from a multitude of dishes and helped pack them up. They found and discarded case after case of ruined restaurant supplies, and discarded large amounts of canned food and packaged food that was no longer safe to eat.

All of them worked incredibly hard. By the end of the day Tuesday, things were changing quickly inside the River Forks. This fantastic team was really making a difference. As the week progressed, more dramatic changes occurred. For the first time in the seven weeks since the flood, the building was beginning to dry out. On Thursday and Friday, the crew removed the wood floor from the dining room as others continued to remove mud from hard to reach areas, or previously undiscovered places like the closet under the stairs, or the sink cabinet in the kitchen (a whole wheelbarrow full of mud was in one tiny sink cabinet). Many belongings were discovered caked in mud, and whenever possible, they were cleaned off and packed.

On Monday a bulldozer and dump truck came and hauled away the large rubbish heap by the curb. By Friday, the heap was twice as big as the one that was hauled away. But the good news is that the items in that trash heap were a soggy, moldy mess that was no longer inside the building.

This team of helpers were people who took their vacation time to help us out. They were from Utah, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Chile. Others who came in a day at a time during the week were our neighbors from Estes Park. All were sent to us through the Rocky Mountain Church in Estes Park, who teamed up with an organization called ReachGlobal Crisis Response. These folks have promised that they will continue to send us help as volunteers are available, over the long haul.

And it will be a long haul. The River Forks has lost its septic system leach field, and the well is inoperable and contaminated. The electrical system will need extensive work, and all the drywall, insulation, and flooring will need to be replaced. Much of the kitchen equipment was destroyed, as well as a lot of the furnishings and most of the cabinetry.

The wonderful team from ReachGlobal has given Bill and Ann hope. Thanks to them, things are looking up at the River Forks Inn.

Posted on October 15, 2013

Posted on October 15, 2013

A large group of family and other volunteers spent this last Sunday afternoon working on cleanup at the River Forks. Stephanie and Joseph brought many friends to help, and we also had a few volunteers from a church in Estes Park, along with several family members. We were able to get the carpet ripped out of the main lobby area, and more mud dug out of the restaurant, campground office, and Bill & Ann's quarters. We still have mud to get rid of in several bathrooms, hallways and closets. We are thankful that so many were willing to take the time to help!

We learned this week that Hwy 34 from Estes Park to Drake is only open Sundays until further notice. This means that we need to recruit as many volunteers as possible on upcoming Sundays to get things ready for winter. There is plenty to do. Once we finish shoveling mud, we will need help with cleanup of floors, walls and furniture. Thankfully we have all the supplies for cleanup we need from the Red Cross, who donated lots of brooms, mops, bleach, soap, sponges, scrub brushes, shovels and work gloves.

Posted on October 8, 2013

Posted on October 8, 2013

This last photo posted is a "before the flood" shot of the the campground. The river has moved a substantial distance to the north, and it now separates the inn from the campground, instead of flowing behind the campsites.

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