The founding pioneers of Red River New Mexico were a diverse, hearty and colorful group of people. They had the same vision of cool summers away from the heat of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and many other states. Red River was a great vacation destination not only in the summer but the winter as well. The owners and founders of Alpine Lodge were definitely an integral part of this unique group.
Stokes Bolton and his wife “Billie” arrived in Red River from Oklahoma City in 1953. They purchased a beautiful piece of property located from Pioneer Road to West Ninth Street. The first building that was built was the center building facing the river. The lodge consisted of ten rooms. These room numbers today at 10-18. The theater, facing Main Street can also be seen in early pictures of the SEB Motel. The office was eventually constructed inside the lodge on the first floor. The lodge had three floors consisting of the office, hardware store, laundry, and a cinder block room – called the gossip tabernacle. The owner’s apartment was located on the second floor. The third floor contained housekeeping apartments and two storage rooms.
Toni Woerndle was enticed to initiate and direct the opening of The Red River Ski School. He moved his family, Ilse, George, and Rudy to Red River from Aspen Colorado in the spring on 1959 and began the process of building the ski school. Stokes Bolton known as a “mover and a shaker” offered Toni the opportunity to purchase the SEB Motel. Ilse had been running a guest lodge called the Alpine in Aspen so she had experience running a lodge. Soon the name changed to Alpine Lodge. A near by lodge was a messy, dirty eyesore that could be seen from the ski lift. Integrated into the landscaping plans Toni had planted a row of trees to block the “view”. The trees are still on the property and serve as an entrance to the property. Gabled roofs were going up and more trees were planted from 1962 to 1963. Time to make this place look good!
There was a fire in 1964 on the third floor caused by the fireplace in the restaurant. Most was lost but thankfully no one was hurt. The building was saved as well as the roof. Thanks to Bob Prunty and the Red River Fire Department! There were more gabled roofs and shops added in and around the theater from 1965 to 1967.
Red River was finally incorporated in 1971. A new sewer pipe went in – what a mess! Ilse was thankful for the new sewer pipe but was surely happy when they finished! There was a frenzy of building and remodeling from 1972 to 1975. The restaurant was receiving the majority of the building and remodeling.
Red River experienced a devastating flood in 1979. The floodwaters destroyed the bridge on the east side of the property. After the floodwaters receded, George rebuilt the bridge. The Alpine Lodge Bridge was named Saint Florian Bridge, the Saint that protects us from fire and water. Florian is also George’s middle name.
Ilse sold her beloved Alpine Lodge in 1991. It was sold to the Henson family. The Henson family owned the property for a short time then sold it to the Walker family. The Walker family ran the Alpine Successfully for many years.
The Alpine Lodge was purchased by the Swigart family, Richard, Vicki, and children Rachel and Ryan Swigart in November of 2017. Their vision is to bring back some of the history of the lodge. There are some thoughts to restore the restaurant and bar.
This is a very brief history of Alpine Lodge. The hope is that we can develop an appreciation of the special people who have lived in this beautiful place in Red River.
As more facts are uncovered we will try and add to this stroll down memory lane!
Susan Mayes Hogrefe