The Old Enders Hotel Is Alive and Well
I recently had the pleasure of a telephone conversation with a long-time friend from my youth. He was also an elementary and high school classmate. We were discussing our upcoming 60 year graduation anniversary of our high school class that will be hosted at the Enders Hotel; a hotel in Soda Springs, Idaho, he purchased and restored a few years ago. We were discussing the hotel and reminiscing about our high school days and some of the antics of our lives that occurred during that period.
By the 1950s, the years we were in high school, the Enders Building had passed through its heyday, and although it was still in a reasonably good state of repair at that time, it was the beginning of a time of dire straits for this grand old lady from a by-gone era. By the late 1990s, when my friend purchased it, it was in total disrepair and was on the verge of being condemned. The roof had leaked for several years, the result of which, found much of the third story ceiling deposited onto the floor. The upper two stories had actually been closed off. All the usable space that was left in this prior stately building was a struggling restaurant doing business on the main floor.
One of the things I remember about the Enders Hotel during my high school years are the times I spent in the coal bin in the basement. Dad and his younger brother, along with another partner, owned the City Transfer and Storage Co. directly across the street. The City Transfer was in the coal business, and the hotel used slack coal to fire the boiler that provided heat for the building.
Dad being one who was always looking for ways to keep me busy when the farm work slacked, would occasionally have the manager of the City Transfer put me to work helping with coal deliveries on Saturdays and after school. One of these regular customers was the Enders Hotel. The outside access to the coal bin was through an opening covered with two steel doors in the middle of the sidewalk on Main Street.
We would shovel coal into this hole down into the coal bin in the basement below. When the coal reached the top of the wall and would not slide any farther on its own, it was necessary to shovel it away to make room for more. I, being a skinny teenager standing nearly six feet tall, and weighing only about a hundred twenty pounds, (and too naïve to realize I was being conned by my older co-workers) was the one elected to go into the tight quarters of the coal bin to shovel coal back against the other wall so more could be put into the bin.
That’s one of my memories of the Enders during the 1950s. Another, is, that it was a place where some of the retired stockmen and farmers liked to hang out during the daytime. In the lobby were several wood rocking chairs situated along the walls. To this day, some of those rockers still bear scars where these gentlemen extinguished their stogies, or laid them down without an ashtray. These stockmen would congregate there during the day to read the daily newspaper, and discuss the latest happenings of the day while smoking their cigars.
The Enders is situated directly across the street from the movie theater, so in those years, during the winter months, kids used the hotel lobby as a warm haven to wait for their parents to come pick them up after the movie.
This historic building was constructed in 1917 and although it went through some seedy days during the last half of the twentieth century, it survived. I’m happy to say the grand old lady has been revived, and is alive and well today. It has been restored to its early grandeur, and put back as it was in the beginning, except, now, it’s up to modern code. The original hotel had only a few rooms with private baths, utilizing, instead, a community shower room. The renovated second floor today is still set up the same way, but all the rooms on the newly renovated third floor have private baths.
There is also a nice museum on the second floor, and all the remaining sleeping rooms have been restored. The rocking chairs I mentioned earlier are back in the lobby, cigar scars and all. Hanging in the lobby, also, is the head of the white buffalo of Western movie fame, and an award winning moose head. There is even a piece of furniture from the movie set of The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Much of the original hotel furniture has been refurbished(including many of the original brass beds) and is again back in the rooms—including the original radiators for heat. The third floor rooms are furnished with authentic antique furniture gathered from around the world.
If anyone reading this blog happens to be traveling in Southeast Idaho, it is worth their time to make the trip to Soda Springs to visit this splendid old building and the museum; watch the world’s only captive geyser while having lunch in the Geyser View restaurant; spend a night or two in newly renovated rooms, and enjoy some of the history around Soda Springs. The Soda Springs geyser is more faithful than Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park, by the way. It erupts regularly every hour on the hour.
In the meantime, while you’re on this page, why not jump up to upper right and click on the free download button and get a free copy of my book Buddy…His Trials and Treasures. It’s full of adventures about a young boy growing up in rural America during the 1940s. Enjoy.