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Old 08-05-2015, 10:53 AM
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Hi: I attended The Abbey School from 1965-69 and worked in the school's administration from 1972-77. I was also a member of the Camp staff from 1969-77. Although memory fades, I have pretty good recollection of school and camp history and some files that I can consult for specific questions.

Camp Holy Cross was in business for about 40 years. Base camp was at The Abbey School. Abbot's Lodge was located just outside Westcliffe, CO near the Alvarado Campground in the Wet Mountain Valley. Following closure of Holy Cross Abbey in 2005 it reverted to the Forest Service and the buildings were burned down as a fire-fighting exercise. Forestdale Lodge was located in the Greenhorn mountains of the Sangre de Christo range about an hour south of Canon City, near Wetmore and Beulah and not far from the now-famous Bishop's Castle (no connection to Holy Cross). The Abbey owned that property and sold it upon (or perhaps before?) closure of the Abbey.

There were 150 campers each summer, many from Chicago and St. Louis, but also including many who were relatives of former students or campers from Oklahoma, Colorado and other states. It ran for five weeks, starting in late June, with each group rotating for about 10 days among the base camp at the school, Forestdale and Abbot's Lodge. The groups were age-related, the youngest being Foxes (although there had been even younger campers called Rabbits in the early days), middle being Wolves and oldest being Bears.

Each camper (and counselor) was assigned an Indian name. If you cannot remember yours, contact me (see below) as I have possession of the only list of campers and their names that remains, although I think I gave the current owners of The Abbey a copy.

Staffers were monks of Holy Cross Abbey, teachers and alumni of the school and others. Indian Lore was headed up by members of the famed (Boy Scout) Koshare Indian Dancers from La Junta, Colorado. I cannot recall any Native American staff members, but I might be wrong or they might have been on the staff before or after my time there.

I hope this helps with your recollections. If you would like to correspond further you can contact me at rochmike@hotmail.com.

Many Foxes
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Old 09-09-2015, 02:34 PM
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Default Camp Holy Cross

Many Foxes,

I also attended Holy Cross Abbey, but only the summer camp, and a bit before you (1965-6). I lived in Kansas City at that time, but you are correct, Chicago & St Louis were big contributors. The first year I went, we had terrible floods which seemingly threatened camp (the Arkansas was pretty high), but really the Abbey is far enough from the river that no real danger existed. Still, it was scary and exciting.

Your recollections seem very accurate, although I have to say that my recollection was that Abbot's Lodge was in the Sangre's, and Forestdale was in the Wets. Of course at my age, memories can be less that accurate! I remember very clearly spending ~ 1 week at each, how they were laid out, and what we did, etc. Forestdale had a great lake with a raft, adjacent to a big field where we could ride horses. The actual lodge had bunks stacked three-high. Abbots' Lodge had the bunks in the downstairs below the main area, and it had a great pump organ, where we tried to be cool and play 'Louie-Louie'. The horse rides there were riding up to a much higher elevation and camping out. The guys in charge of the ride were not Benedictans, but rather some rough cowboys hired by the Abbey to look after the horses.

We had a nurse, Miss Grote (sp?), and the Abbot in those days was Father Norbert Allen. We were never allowed in the main Abbey bldg., except for the basement cafeteria area. I always wondered what it was like, and fortunately, since the Abbey is now a winery, they've opened it up for tours, which I've taken. Fabulous bldg., only hope someone can find the money to keep it up.

Hope your memories of Holy Cross are as favorable as mine!

Kills the Antelope
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Old 06-14-2016, 12:13 AM
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Ok haven't posted here in a good while but here Is a map of where Abbots lodge{used} to be. I believe it is the building where the red marker is.........

Also cant believe no one has posted anything about the dip.

Last edited by Achilleslastand; 06-14-2016 at 12:35 AM..
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Old 06-27-2016, 01:05 PM
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Default Yes, that is (was) the location of Abbot's Lodge

Tim, you are correct in locating Abbot's Lodge in the Wet Mountain Valley near Westcliffe. Sadly, after The Abbey closed, the Forest Service burned the lodge and cabins in what I think was a fire-fighting drill. The monks had never owned the land, just had some kind of long-term lease or permit to use the property.

Forestdale, on the other hand was owned by the monks. Upon closing (or perhaps prior to) it was sold to a private family for pretty large sum. I understand that they built a substantial home there and the only remaining Camp structure was the big lodge. I think by the time you attended, the big lodge was being used as the dining hall. In earlier years it had been the bunkroom, with 3-high bunks around the perimeter.

I have some photographs of campers in the dip at Abbot's that I will dig out one of these days and send to you.

Mike "Many Foxes" Long (counselor and photographer 1968-77)
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Old 06-27-2016, 05:30 PM
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Thank you!
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Old 12-15-2016, 06:02 PM
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My brother and I were from St. Louis. We both attended Camp Holy Cross from about 1950 through about 1953. It was an utterly fantastic experience. We had 4 Indian tribes that the campers all belonged to: Utes, Kiowa, Comanche, and I believe Cheyenne. Indian dancing, crafts, marksmanship, archery, horseback/trail riding, etc. We were there for around 6-8 weeks, as I recall. There were two lodges, Abbott's and Forestdale (if memory serves). Remember catching trout in the creek with one of the priests, who brought our catch back and cooked them up. Delicious. Remember the day long hikes up and around the mountains. Another of our campers was Jimmy Walgreen (Chicago). Jimmy's grandfather started the Walgreen drug chain.
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Old 02-21-2018, 12:46 AM
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Forestdale was also used as a football camp just before the regular season started. I attended the Abbey school from 1951-54. We slept out side in sleeping bags or blankets, ran the roads and trails and used one of the (more or less) flat areas nearby as a practice field (no pads, just helmets).

The Forestdale location can still be found using Google Earth and if you zoom in the owners have a "Forestdale" rock sign there. Lat: +38.062278 Lon: -105.142528 Eye level: 9630ft

Since I lived in Canon City, I also remember the weekend summer camp pagents during WWII (during the Abbot Schwin's time) many of the ceremonial events are still embedded in my mind. I believe that they call in dancers from the Taos Pueblo and the Koshari Boy Scount organization from La Junta to help the Holy Cross boys learn the dances from these experts. - tom
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Old 08-25-2018, 06:34 AM
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Just thought about Camp Holy Cross today, as my 21 yr old son was backpack camping near Jones Peak.
My brother and I attended Holy Cross 53 years ago in the Summer of 1965, for 8(?) weeks. Wonderful memories still of camping in the mountains, trout fishing the streams, and horseback riding at full speed across the grassy open plateaus with vistas over many miles. The 2 lodges they had were awesome, as well as their stable of quarter horses. We rode the train from St. Louis to Denver, which in itself was an awesome journey across the plains. Too young then to appreciate the enormity of that opportunity, there are probably few places today that can compare with Camp Holy Cross back then.

Last edited by Mike from back east; 08-25-2018 at 11:49 AM..
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:33 PM
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I attended around 1963 to 65. We were divided into 4 tribes. I was a Cheyenne. Every Sunday night was Council mtg. We dressed up and sat in front of our teepees. The Abbot was Ghe Big Chief of Big Four Nations. Highlights of our summer included annual trip to Buckskin Joes and Royal Gorge. Trips to both lodges included the legends of “The Crazy Man” at Abbot and “The Red Eyed Gimpy” at Forestdale. Many great memories of Father Norbert and our Native American counselor Ernie.
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Old 01-05-2019, 03:27 PM
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Default Forestdale Camp

We bought Forestdale Camp in 2003. All the buildings are still here (except an old cabin that the monks brought up here and did not get it placed on a foundation). We have renovated the old counselors cabin. This is the original building that looked like a house. We are living in it full time. To preserve a little of the history we have called the property "Forestdale Ranch" and are running registered Galloway cattle on the land. We have built a barn to manage the cattle where the old ball field was. If you go to google maps (satellite N38 deg 03.66' X W105 deg 09.578') you can see all the buildings and, yes, we rearranged the white rocks from "Camp Holy Cross" to "Forestdale Ranch". We have renovated 4 of the small cabins just for fun. We are in the process of renovating the old "A frame" (built in 1954). The original building had a round fireplace in the middle of the downstairs room, I am told. The fireplace was taken out some time later. Our renovation will not be complete for at least a couple of years.

We have heard that the camp was not used as a boys camp after 1981. After that it was used for various activities such as a get-away for other churches in the area. We did get to meet Brother David (he has since passed away) and Tom. Both were real nice guys. We have found many things in the woods from a half full bottle of whiskey to a Ford model A fender to an antenna in a tree. We keep finding things that we wonder what they were used for. The history of this place interests us and it is fun to read the stories and some of the activities that you all have written about.
Scott and Sue
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