The great author Ernest Hemingway could have chosen as his final resting place anywhere in the world, for he was truly at home everywhere in the world. For many, he is most closely associated with Key West Florida. Some say Ernest Hemingway is synonymous with northern Michigan. For others, it’s Paris, Cuba or Spain.
As a Kansas City resident, I’m proud of the seven months he worked for the Kansas City Star. He said of the newspaper’s style sheet “Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing.”
My editors there and my reporting experience with that newspaper has made me a better writer as well.
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Ernest Hemingway in Idaho
So you can understand my delight when, on assignment in Sun Valley Idaho, I was at long last able to pay my respects to Papa.
A notable celebrity by the 1930s, Hemingway was one of many public figures invited to spend time at the newly developed ski resort near Ketchum. He fell in love with the region, spending weeks and months at a time here. It was in Room 206 of the Sun Valley Lodge that he wrote a good portion of the Pulitzer-prize nominated “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”
He visited off and on over the years. Finally, in 1958, he and his fourth wife, Mary, purchased a home. It was there he died by his own hand in July 1961. The house still stands. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
For years after Mary’s death, it was owned by the Nature Conservancy, according to her wishes. However, it is now owned and maintained by the Ketchum Community Library. It is not open for public tour, but is used as a residency program for writers, scholars and artists.
What to See of Hemingway in Ketchum, Idaho
Instead, you can see his Royal typewriter at the Ketchum Community Library or another exhibit at the Heritage & Ski Museum. But in Hemingway style, you should also have a drink at Papa’s Bar at the Trail Creek Cabin in Sun Valley.
Have another drink at the Sawtooth Bar on Main Street in Ketchum. And another drink at the Pioneer Saloon or the Michel’s Christiana Club or the Casino, which isn’t a casino at all. Yes, Hem frequented them all, frequently.
But to best appreciate Hemingway and his love for this part of the world, take a walk in the woods or along the Trail Creek, hopefully in the autumn months. I was there in winter, but Hemingway loved the autumn when the leaves of aspen and cottonwood turned the blue skies golden with their glow.
Trudging through the cold and snow for nearly a mile, I came to the creek bank where his friends built a memorial at one of his favorite spots. The epitaph Papa wrote for another, now engraved on his memorial on Trail Creek, speaks to his love of Idaho and the great outdoors:
“Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever”
Enjoy and Understand Hemingway’s Genius