history of the blue jay inn
& the Hillcrest Apartments
The Hillcrest Bungalow, as this rooming house was first called, was built shortly after 1910, before any hotels had been constructed. A number of colorful persons lived here, including prominent businessmen, and a woman known as the “Cattle Queen of Wyoming” the reported head of gang of cattle rustlers.
Lava Bottling Works
(building behind Blue Jay Inn)
In 1913, Francis D. Fagnant, owner and operator of the Fagnant and Sons Bottling Company in Kemmerer, Wyoming came to Lava while on his way west. The splendid location and the hot baths led the family to settle here. Francis Fagnant bought a ranch in 1913 and in 1920 (or1921) opened the Lava Bottling Works. It produced root beer; cherry, cream orange, lemon soda; and other soft drinks which were sold throughout the local area.
Francois Desire Fagnant
FEBRUARY 29, 1862 – JANUARY 19,1941
Francis Fagnant was a Belgian cobbler and soda bottler, who once made boots for Calamity Jane. Francis Fagnant and his Belgium-born wife, Eugenie Reding, along with their three children, Alfred Paul, Arthur Joseph and Laura Adele, came to Lava from Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1913. They ranched on a spread bought from Charles Morris Bell and for a few years also operated a soda bottling works. The Lava Hot Springs Bottling Works, as it was called, was later for a couple of years run by son-in -law, John H. Roberts, while Francis ran the Dice and Fagnant Apartments. The Fagnants worshipped the Catholic God. Francis died January 19,1941. Eugenie Reding died February 14. 1954.