Settlement of the area began with James Landis, soon followed by others seeking their fortunes. In 1882, town founders Isaac Cooper, John Blake and others purchased Landis’ property for $1500 and formed the Defiance Town and Land Company.
That same year Landis married Dolly Barlow; her brother Fred would later open the town’s first hotel, restaurant and ran the first post office. Barlow led the way, followed by a string of lodging entrepreneurs hoping to capitalize on the need for accommodations in this growing town. It was because of Cooper’s wife Sarah that the name Defiance was eventually changed to Glenwood Springs, after her hometown of Glenwood, Iowa.
Isaac Cooper joined forces with Walter Devereux, a wealthy mining engineer, to create a world-class spa and resort. Renowned Austrian architect, Theodore Von Rosenberg was hired to design structures that rivaled the castles of Europe. In 1888, the bathhouse at Glenwood Hot Springs Pool opened and in 1893, the Hotel Colorado welcomed its first guests. The railroad arrived in Glenwood Springs in 1887, just in time to bring wealthy travelers to the resort spa. Cooper, though ill at the time, was aboard that inaugural ride on the Denver & Rio Grande as it arrived in Glenwood Springs to fanfare.