Posts Tagged ‘history’

Did You Ever Wonder What’s Inside the Tallest Building at the 4UR Ranch?

July 25th, 2017 by 4ur ranch

Flourite_Mill

     Happy 100 year anniversary to our fluorite mill at the 4UR Ranch! If you have been to the 4UR Ranch located in the historic mining town of Creede, Colorado, you have definitely noticed that big old building sitting on the east side of Goose Creek. Its nostalgic and regal presence towers over the ranch and demands attention; well it’s going to get some!

Genesis

     The vein of fluorite it was constructed for was discovered in 1891 by miners looking for extensions of the Amethyst silver vein that brought so much prosperity. The origin of the fluorite vein is believed to be linked to the three hot springs in the area; with the water depositing minerals and forming the veins over time. However the interest of the time was for silver and gold and fluorite took a back seat until 1911 when

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Ice Cutting at Humphreys Ranch

February 10th, 2014 by 4ur ranch

Last month, the 4UR family gathered with our neighbors: the Browns, Humphreys managers Joni and Casey Adelman and many Creede friends, to take part in Humphreys Ranch Annual Ice Cutting event. When we arrived, crews had already set to work, sawing away at the ice, hauling it to the stacking crew, followed closely behind by the snow gathering crew. Children ran in and out of cakes of ice, or screamed joyfully as they were pulled in sleds across the frozen lake.

Crew Cuts Ice at Humphreys Ranch in Creede, Colorado

Crew Cuts Ice at Humphreys Ranch in Creede, Colorado

Two-hundred-pound cakes of ice are stacked after being cut from Haypress Lake

Two-hundred-pound cakes of ice are stacked after being cut from Haypress Lake

One hundred eighty 20” x 20” cakes of ice, weighing about 200lbs each, were cut from Haypress Lake. Huge, toothy six-foot saws were used to cut the cakes, and large tongs were then applied to pull the ice from the water and to slide it over to the ice shed nearby. The cakes were then stacked and packed in snow, covered with a layer of sawdust at the very end. Joni and Casey Adelman provided delicious food, hot cocoa and coffee throughout the morning. When all the work was done, everyone enjoyed a wonderful lakeside lunch.

I spoke with Bill Dooley to find out the history of this event.  Bill just retired from Humphreys last year, on his 40th anniversary of managing the ranch. He has many fond memories of ice cutting over the years, one of his favorites being the winter of 1974. He was a new, strapping young manager, and he and Boots Brown decided they could handle the job themselves – it was only 180 cakes, right? Two weeks later, along with many sore muscles, they finally got the job done. Another winter Bill was bold enough to take the job on himself, taking a month to cut a few cakes a day and load them into the ice shed. It is VERY tiring work! You can get an idea why they have turned it into a party, calling “all hands on deck”.

Huge, toothy six-foot saws are used to cut large cakes of ice.

Huge, toothy six-foot saws are used to cut large cakes of ice.

So, why all the work? And what is all this ice for?

The ice was originally cut from Lake Humphreys. The lake was dammed in 1922, and that was the first winter they also put up their own ice. They used it for the iceboxes in their houses and in the lodge. (Yes, this was before the Frigidaire, and Freon!) They still have and use these iceboxes today, along with the modern refrigerator in the lodge and some of the houses. The ice is also put in the “Pop” house close to Lake Humphreys, where they store some perishables and drinks. The rest of the ice is used to keep fish caught off the lake cold, and to transport home after a fishing trip.

Humphreys is one of the few ranches that still harvests ice today. Not so far back in the not so long ago past, all ranches around Creede and in the San Luis Valley put up their own ice. Back in the day, everyone had iceboxes, which needed ice year-round, and the farming communities used the ice to keep produce cool on railroad cars headed to Denver and other destinations. Ice cutting also gave the community farmers and ranchers something to do in the winter. Many called it the “First Harvest” of the year.  Many local ranchers, farmers, and town folk would gather at Broadacres Ranch for ice harvesting.  The ice cakes were stacked up 3’ wide x 6’ tall on skids which were then loaded up on a buckboard truck and driven into town to the local gas station, the Six Gun Camp (now the site of the Creede Baptist Church).  All homes in Creede purchased their ice from the Six Gun.

Pulling ice blocks from the lake

Pulling ice blocks from the lake

Did you know . . . A bit of 4UR history:

• Walton Pond was dammed specifically for ice harvesting. You can still find the old ice shed foundation near the south side of the pond. The ice was harvested to ship cabbage and leafy vegetables that were grown on our neighbor’s land (the Gjellum’s) from the Wagon Wheel Gap Depot (today Davlin’s Wagon Wheel Gap Depot) to Denver.

• Retired manager Ed Wintz was the last person to harvest ice at the 4UR. By this time, ice was only being harvested for the ranch, and the ice was cut from the Hot Springs Reservoir. You pass this pond on the road up to “Breakfast Ride”, and the old ice shed still stands next to the pond as a reminder of our own rich history.

• Staff from the 4UR, along with Creede locals, returned to Humphreys earlier this month to harvest eighteen cakes of ice for the upcoming Cabin Fever Daze festival.  The ice will be sculpted by local artists and displayed along Main Street. Damon & Kiera Gibbons will be carving a sculpture for the 4UR.

Ice_Cutting_Humphreys_SimiHamiltonAnd we leave you with this other “fun fact”:

Q: Who is the boy hauling ice at Humphreys ranch, surrounded by Bill Dooley and Jimmy & Kathy Adelman in this picture?
A: This picture was taken a little over a decade ago. The boy is Ruthie Brown’s son, Simeon “Simi” Hamilton. Simi is now in Russia, a Nordic ski athlete competing in the Olympics for team USA.

(We also include a couple Mineral County Miner newspaper clippings Bill Dooley has held onto: one with the late Mrs. Ruth Brown hauling ice, and polar bear swimming – not too popular a sport, but it is not unknown that a few brave souls have taken the plunge after a morning of harvesting ice, Bill’s son Tad included.)

Ice_Cutting_Humphreys_Family_tradition  Ice_Cutting_Humphreys_old_tradition

Under Creede

December 10th, 2010 by 4ur admin

A handful of settlers began farming at Wagon Wheel Gap in the early 1840s, and within a few decades, Wagon Wheel Gap was a popular destination for fishermen. Other tourists soon followed, seeking the curative waters of the local hot springs; the original bathhouse from that time is still at our Colorado dude ranch.

Things changed dramatically in 1890, when a high-grain vein of silver was found on Willow Creek. The population swelled quickly to 10,000 (more than ten times what the population of Mineral County is today) as tent camps and towns grew with miners, saloons, hotels, etc. It seemed that fortunes were made overnight, and as long as the mines produced silver and people paid for it, there was prosperity in Creede.

Delve under the rocks of the Southern Rockies.

The last mine in Creede closed in 1985, but the legacy of the Creede silver mines is visible throughout Creede and Mineral County. Consider delving into this interesting subject the next you travel to our Southern Rockies Vacation Dude Ranch. The Underground Mining Museum in Creede was never a functioning mine, but it was carved out of the rock by a few Creede miners. The museum and community center are completely underground, and offer visitors a rare glimpse into the life of a miner.

4UR Guest Ranch History

January 19th, 2010 by 4ur admin

The 4UR Ranch has a long history. The property which we now care for has been attracting people for over 100 years. Ranching and tourism are not new to the Upper Rio Grande Valley. Settlers began farming at Wagon Wheel Gap as early as 1840. One of the earliest ranches, the Wason Ranch, was homesteaded in 1871.
By the mid–1870s, tourist activities also began to thrive along the Rio Grande. Guide books talking about the wild and unsettled beauty of the American West. Nearly 15 years before there was a town called Creede, a hotel opened at Wagon Wheel Gap.

The Old Silver Mine on 4UR Ranch

The Old Silver Mine here at 4UR Ranch

The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad began transporting eager tourists into the area as early as 1883 with the opening of the depot at Wagon Wheel Gap. Fishermen would ride the train to a favorite “hole,” disembark to fish for the day, and then catch a ride on a returning train. The Utes’ favored hot springs soon became a popular spa with tourists coming in droves to “take the waters.” Praise for the curative and restorative benefits, both by drinking from the bubbling hot springs as well as bathing in the soothing flow, spread through publications promoted by the railroad. A lavish bathhouse sheltered guests as they luxuriated in the therapeutic springs. (source)

The historic bathhouse still stands at 4UR Dude Ranch as a poignant reminder of those early tourism heydays. We invite you to continue this tradition of enjoying and exploring the beauty of Wagon Wheel Gap, during a true Western Vacation at 4UR Ranch.

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