Joseph Wescott was born in 1838 in Nova Scotia and reared in Iowa. By 1865, he was in Middle Park, squatting, half-blind and semi-alcoholic, in Hot Sulphur Springs with his friend Charlie Utter.
Having come to Colorado to get relief from rheumatism, he passed his time in creative writing, fishing, drinking, and shooting his revolver. In 1868, after being induced to sell all of his claims of 160 acres around the hot springs, he left Hot Sulphur Springs to go to Grand Lake.
In 1870, a group of Arapahoe Indians arrived in the area and there is an unverified report that Wescott, Jack Sumner, and three fishermen killed “not less than five” of the Indians. Soon after this incident, Wescott settled into developing a rustic resort with cabins, rafts, canoes, and skiffs on Grand Lake.
By 1879, he had three buildings on the West Shore. In July 1880, disaster struck when Edward Phillips Weber, an attorney, took over Wescott’s original filing as his own. Weber claimed that there were “flaws in the filing” and forced Wescott out.
Nevertheless, on June 26, 1888, Wescott filed a plat for “Grand Lake City,” on the lake shore south from the inlet. He designed the area for summer visitors rather than as a residential community.
Wescott later wrote a famous poem about the legend of Grand Lake, and how the spirits of the lost Ute women and children can still be heard wailing on foggy mornings at the lake shore.