|A SHORT HISTORY OF THE ROCK REST LODGE
Although records are unclear, local folklore holds that the front section of the Rock Rest was erected around 1885 as a trading post and stagecoach stop. Originally called the “Rock House Rest” on old mining maps, by the time of the 1890’s census, the name had been shortened to simply “Rock Rest”.
As nearby Camp George West expanded, so too did the Rock Rest. The lodge, ballroom and “private” brothel areas were built around 1907 by then owner and local legend Len “Stump Puller” Johnson. After Johnson retired back to Sweden, the Lodge was sold to a shady character by the name of JimboThraken. Extending the brothel and gambling receipts were Thraken’s first order of business. Soon the Rock Rest became the Ad Hoc officers club for the nearby camp. In 1923 Thraken was killed in a barroom brawl and the Rock Rest went through a series of owners and into decline.
During the Great Depression the Rock Rest was brought back to greatness by the famous fiddle playing band leader George Morrison. Morrison and his Rigadooners were the toast of the town until the Klu Klux Klan threatened to blow up the Rock Rest and kill the African-American and Catholic band leader.
The Rock Rest then came under the ownership of Max Heeley, a local Heavyweight boxer. According to newspaper accounts of the time, Heeley’s Bull terrier “Dempsey” wandered into the cavern beneath the Rock Rest. The distraught Heeley followed the pup in, and neither was seen again. Since then, the cavern has been sealed for safety concerns. On especially windy nights, it is said one can still hear old Dempsey howling!