The original giftshop and restaurant known as the Monarch Crest was opened in 1954 by Elmo Bevington, along with George Cope, a former Colorado state highway patrolman and Gunnison County Sheriff who often patrolled Monarch Pass. Cope had gotten wind that the USFS was offering up some land at the top of the pass for someone to open a hamburger stand. He contacted Bevington, and the two leased five acres from the Forest Service with an agreement to pay a small percentage of the profits to them. The original business was also a rest stop for Greyhound buses making the journey over the pass, allowing the overworked engines to cool down while passengers disembarked for some high-altitude grub.


The scenic tramway at the top of Monarch Pass wasn’t constructed until 1966 by Salida brothers Elmo and Mac Bevington. They wanted to encourage visitors to the Crest dining room that was already located at the top of the pass. They also built an observation building and a road they used to drive visitors to the top. Pleased by people’s interest in the new attraction, the Bevingtons placed an advertisement in The Mountain Mail on June 17, 1966 saying “We are thrilled and feel sure our initial inclination on building this sight-seeing lift is fully substantiated.” In 1968, Elmo Bevington also purchased Monarch Mountain Ski Area and, at that time, also owned most of the old mining town of Garfield.


In 1976, Bevington sold the restaurant and gift shop to Dick and Ann Fortune.


In 1988, lightening struck the building and it burned to the ground. It was them replaced by a concrete structure incorporating a series of domes, using 172 tons of rebar.


After the rebuild, the Fortune’s sold the business to their parents, Tal and Doris Ruttham, in 1989. The restaurant never reopened. Instead, a snack bar in the gift shop offered ice cream, homemade fudge and other food items.


In 1994, the operation was sold to Jim and Deanne Littrell, and then to their daughter, Edie, and her husband, Jerry Schoenfeld.


The tramway’s drive system was renovated in 2015 when it was outfitted with an electric motor similar to other ski lifts, says Schoenfeld.


In early 2022, Monarch Mountain’s (the skiing/snowboarding/tubing area a couple miles down the east side of the pass) General Manager Randy Stroud contacted Edie Schoenfeld about parking Shredder’s, one of ski area’s food trucks, up at the Crest for the summer months. Edie informed Randy that the Crest and Tramway were up for sale and under contract. That contract fell through and in October of 2022, Monarch Mountain purchased the Crest primarily for much needed parking space during the winter months. A new vision of the Crest was formed to include a full remodel of the interior, a grill and seating area, outside deck, tramway upgrade, new retail space and an informative and educational Visitor Center. The remodel began immediately after the purchase and the new Monarch Mountain at the Crest opened on May 19, 2023 with the Scenic Tramway to follow on June 10, 2023.

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