It was 90 years ago when the Mishawaka legend was born. It all started on a beautiful February afternoon in 1916, when a muscian by the name of Walter S. Thompson stumbled upon a small stretch of the Cache La Poudre River Valley that he felt especially stood out from the previous 15 miles of land he had just breezed past on his motorcycle that particular afternoon. After passing the Ouzel stretch & rounding the Lower Mishawaka river bend, Thompson suddenly came to a stop. It was right then that he knew he had just discovered his sacred land.
In a Journal entry regarding his first impression of the land, Thomson noted:
”There were beautiful pines, spruce, cedar, quaking aspen, birch and many other trees; those without leaves being such a contrast to the evergreens. A wonderful stream gushed from the mountain-side and rippled like sweet music as it worked its way over the rocks onto the river, being a spot where the sun does not shine from late fall until early spring.”
With that pristine image impressed upon his mind, Thompson decided to locate the owner of this particular parcel & purchase the land for a summer home.To Thompson’s surprise, he discovered that the land was only obtainable as a homestead & if he ever wanted to call this incredible place “home”, he would have to live on & develop this land nearly year-round for over 3 years.
In 1916, the few residents who inhabited Poudre canyon wouldn’t see another soul for long stretches of time, & there was absolutely no access to schools for his children. Thompson quickly realized that if he was ever going to make this vision of his come true, he would be forced to leave his family for over 3 years & give up his true passion & only source of income in life, which was perfroming live music. But all Thompson had to do was drift back to that vivid pitcture & feeling he received when first discovering the land upon which the Mishawaka now rests, & decided to pack it up & head for the hills even though he admits he “knew absolutley nothing about taking up a homestead or developing a mountain-ranch”.
So, in the Spring of 1916, without any capital whatsoever, a determined Thompson began to build his Poudre Canyon home, which is now know as the Mishawaka Dance Hall. Over the next 3 hard-working years Thompson developed that rugged canyon terrain into a self-supporting homestead, his family was then able to moved in & Music in the Dance Hall started shortly thereafter, completing the the vision he had been dreaming about daily for over 4 years. And According to Thompson, once the music started, “There was a dance almost every night & there was no longer time for idle dreaming.”
Today, that “idle dream” has been preserved through the legendary Mishawaka Amphitheatre. More commonly referred to simply as “The Mish” This historically renowned establishment has been a cultural staple in Colorado for many decades. The multi-sensory experience uniquely provided by The Mish will continue to bring out the most epic performances in all of our favorite artists & will continue to be the premier summer destination for music lovers, outdoor recreationalists, families, college students, & environmentalists alike.
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