History, for my husband, Walter Williams, was not just a subject to be studied in school. It was, for him, a way of connecting with all that had gone before him and passing it along to those who would come after. Williams Lake Hotel was his business but it was also his home. And its history, and the history of Rosendale, became his story as well, a story he learned during his many years here and a story he eagerly passed on to anyone who was interested.
It was typical of Walter’s enthusiasm that he told this story, not as a dry lecture in a closed room, but as part of a “history hike,” a walking tour of Rosendale’s past. He would leave after breakfast with a group of hotel guests racing to keep up with his long strides and brisk pace. At selected spots he’d stop and tell his story, the story of Rosendale and Rosendale Cement. Each stop would tie an event in history with the place in front of him. In this way Walter lived this history and passed this gift on to countless numbers of guests and friends over the years.
Walter is no longer with us. And his “history hikes” are missed by former guests who wanted to do it “one more time,” and by our newer guests who are fascinated by the mysterious caves and kilns on the property and want to know “what it’s all about.”
Yet Walter would have been the first to say that the history of a place is not the possession of one man. It belongs to all of us. And, fortunately, Walter left behind more than memories. We are lucky enough to have a video recording of an informal talk he gave to some of our guests one late winter evening. This booklet is a transcription of that talk. It is the continuation of the story that was transmitted to Walter and that he, in turn, passed along to us. We know it contains the informationbut we hope it also conveys the enthusiasm of those many history hikes over those many years. But, please, don’t just read this booklet. Walk out along the trails, past the caves and the kilns, and add your own footsteps to the many that have gone before you. Go for a history hike!