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3 story brick building with sign saying "HOTEL" square turrets in front and back and many chimneys.  Mountains in background.
The Bella Vista Hotel stood at the northwest corner of 12th and Jackson from the 1880s until 1920 - Dan Abbott Collection - Click to enlarge

The Bella Vista hotel was built in the early 1880s at 12th and Jackson Streets. In 1920, a salvage company dismantled it, selling off the woodwork, flooring, doors and windows, the pipes–even the bricks. What they couldn’t sell, they left behind. There, the pile of wreckage remained for 16 years.

postcard of brick "Coors Brewery and Malted Milk Plant" with Golden, Mount Zion, and foothills in background
This photo of Coors, taken sometime between 1920 and 1936, provides a distant glimpse of the Bella Vista foundations - click to enlarge

88 Years Ago
The April 16, 1936 Colorado Transcript included an article titled “RATS!”

The cleaning up of the old foundations of the Belle Vista hotel preparatory to constructing the new PWA consolidated grade school building has disturbed the homes of innumerable rats and will undoubtedly scatter them out pretty well over Golden. Arrangements should be made at once to exterminate these destructive rodents.

The Transcript frequently wrote about rats, sometimes offering helpful hints about how to kill them–poison, shooting, and asphyxiation by car exhaust being among the suggestions.

Why did we have such a rat problem? It’s probably because we did not have a good method of disposing of our waste. Over the years, Golden’s town dumps were in surprisingly central places, including Parfet Park, 11th Street next to the Creek, and the west end of 8th Street. Theoretically, those dumps were intended for non-smelly things, such as construction waste or unwanted furniture, but people often dumped food waste, dead animals, and other rat attractants. Apparently, from 1920-1936, many of those rats called the Bella Vista waste pile home.

Golden offered curbside garbage collection beginning in the 1950’s, and made it mandatory in 1967. References to rats in the local paper dropped off sharply after that.

Thanks to the Golden History Museum for providing the online cache of historic Transcripts, and to the Golden Transcript for documenting our history since 1866!