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Baby Doe's Matchless Mines
Leadville, Colorado
Central City, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
Cutchogue, New York
Riley County, Kansas
Holland, Vermont
Washington, DC
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Baby Doe Restaurant

At one time back in the 70s and 80s there were Baby Doe's Matchless Mine restaurants in Columbus, Kansas City, Birmingham, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas and Los Angeles. All were situated to allow diners a "view" of some sort: a limestone quarry lake in suburban Columbus, a panorama of downtown in Birmingham, Dallas and Denver, etc.. And all were built according to a similar architectural model.


Looking northeast toward Baby Doe's Matchless Mine restaurant from Interstate 35E in Dallas, 2002

The basic layout included an entrance made to look like a mineshaft, flanked by various mining-related artifacts such as tipple cars on narrow gauge rails and rusting hoist machinery. Inside, "down the mineshaft" as it were, one of two paths led down to the bar, while the other ascended to a dining room. Both rooms were heavily clad in the dark, rough-hewn timbering resonant of the interior of a mine, while, at the same time being furnished in high Victorian chintz and carpeting. And, as if to provide further cognitive disonance, both public spaces enjoyed un-underworld-like floor-to-ceiling glass windows facing "the view."


The author's sister Nancy Moses at the entrance to Baby Doe's in Dallas, 2002

While the "authenticity" of such themed restaurants often ends there: not so, the Baby Doe's restaurants. Each went an astonishing step further by hanging its interior walls with facsimiles of actual Tabor memorabilia: stock certificates from Tabor's companies, letters, family photos and portraits. Here's a picture of Augusta. There's a picture of Baby and Horace's Denver home. Over there is a copy of the incorporation papers for one of Horace's will-o-the-wisp ventures.


Showing the "industrial" character of Baby Doe's architecture, atop "Goat Hill" in Dallas, 2002

Interestingly, these restaurants were of their time, i.e. the early 1970s. It was an era immediately preceded by Tiki-type lounges, Howard Johnson's Orange-and-Blue "36 varieties," space-ship and satellite-themed drive-ins, and the early rumblings of fast-food chains. But, by the 70s, Denver and the other Baby Doe's locales were forging a sun-belt-style America, in which a high-end steakhouse could be a symbol of the new free-market "elegance," a kind of informal formality grounded in cowboy chic and "big oil" boomerism.


The eastern or "view" side of Baby Doe's Matchless Mine Restaurant in Denver, 2004

Virtually none of the Baby Doe's Matchless Mine Restaurants survive; their buildings and grounds being sold, recast, renamed and/or otherwise transformed. As of this writing, only the Dallas Baby Doe's remains as a functioning restaurant (albeit temporarily closed for renovation) operating under its original name.Yet, while they lasted, they were yet another manifestation of the rich and continuously fertile Baby Doe story.


An example of the "accoutrements" surrounding the Baby Doe's building in Denver, 2004

Restaurant locations:

Atlanta: Powers Ferry Road
Columbus: (aka Columbus Mine Shaft) please advise
Birmingham: on top of "Red Mountain" (near the Vulcan statue)
Denver: 2520 W. 23rd Street
Dallas: (atop "Goat Hill") 3505 Harry Hines Boulevard
Los Angeles, California (Monterey Park): 3700 W. Ramona Blvd.
Kansas City: 2600 S.Santa Fe Rd, Kansas City, Missouri.


The main entrance to Baby Doe's Matchless Mine Restaurant in Denver, 2004

Links:

Baby Doe's Matchless Mine (Denver)--ceased operation

Baby Doe's Matchless Mine (Kansas City)--ceased operation to avoid sliding off its hillside

Baby Doe's Matchless Mine (Dallas)