Sunday, December 03, 2006

Silver Creek Springs: A History

The history of Silver Creek Springs, a valley of exquisite beauty and amazing natural wonders, located in America‘s great Northwest, can be traced back to one rugged individual who embodied the frontier spirit of that long ago time. Colonel Ezekiel Moreland first discovered this majestic landscape in the early part of the 19th century, and then later, along with his daughter Genevieve, and soon to be renowned artist Frederich Alonzo Gustaf, returned to settle the area and make it their new home.

Their story is all the more remarkable in that it never really happened. Silver Creek Springs exists neither in the history nor geography of this country’s great western frontier. The area that Ezekiel Moreland described as “a tranquil valley along the shores of a splendid lake,” is in reality located in the heart of Walt Disney World, just minutes from the Magic Kingdom theme park. It is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort.

The story behind the Lodge has been related to guests via The Silver Creek Star, a faux newspaper given to guests at check-in. Mixed with guest services information are a number of articles that relate the stories behind the Lodge’s creation and its many points of interest.

Ezekiel Moreland was a veteran of the War of 1812. Recently widowed and inspired by the accounts of Lewis and Clark, the retired colonel mounted a westbound expedition in 1823. His party of fifty or so intrepid adventurers however, quickly met with disaster. A buffalo stampede, some ten thousand animals strong, destroyed nearly all their provisions a mere eighty miles up the Missouri River from their starting point. They limped back to St. Louis, and all but Moreland gave up on the expedition. In a letter to daughter Genevieve he wrote:

“I take to the wilderness alone. The good earth will provide me with everything I need to survive. I have my gun. I have my courage and I have my determination. What need I of anything else, especially of cowardly scoundrels who turn ashen in the face of the smallest adversity.”

Two years later, Moreland would emerge back out of the wilderness and send for his daughter, engaging her with news of the paradise he had uncovered. Moreland had also become a wealthy man, having brought back from his travels a substantial collection of beaver pelts and other furs. Intrigued by her father’s good fortune and unbridled passion, Genevieve, a young art curator, took a leave of absence and set out for St. Louis where her father was waiting. Joining her as a traveling companion was the young Austrian artist Alonzo Gustaf who desired to capture in painting the new frontier he had been hearing so much about.

Upon arriving in the valley of Silver Creek Springs, Genevieve and Gustaf found their destinies newly defined. According to the Silver Creek Star:

“Using the small fortune her father had raised from the fur trade, they brought out a crew of men from St. Louis and had a small lodge built near the fresh water spring. Jenny would remain in Silver Creek Springs for the remainder of her life. She established a preservation area in her father's honor, where others could enjoy the natural beauty of the wilderness. The Wilderness Lodge welcomed artists, scientists and nature lovers of all kinds over the years. As the number of visitors grew, the Lodge expanded to accommodate them. Eventually, they added rooms that grew around the spring, making it part of the Wilderness Lodge.”

Coming Soon: The stories behind Artist Point, Silver Creek, Fire Rock Geyser and the Grand Canyon Fireplace.


Anonymous said...

Once again the details of this story astound me. I cannot wait to get down there,Ive had the other 3 adults that are staying read this its really cool.