Archive for the ‘Colorado History’ Category

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

July 25th, 2017 by 4ur ranch


     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!


     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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RIGHT Photography Workshop at the 4UR Ranch

November 11th, 2014 by 4ur ranch

Last month, the 4UR Ranch hosted a photography class sponsored by the  Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT). It was taught by Mike Blakeman, an accomplished photographer who has been donating his time and contributing his expertise to RIGHT for several years.

What is RiGHT?

RiGHT was founded in 1999. It is a non-profit organization that works with private landowners, public agencies, and other conservation organizations to preserve the natural beauty and wildlife habitat of the area and to promote a sustainable agricultural lifestyle. RiGHT’s goals are to protect and support working ranches and farms, water resources, wildlife habitat, scenic landscapes, and inspire a culture of conservation in the San Luis Valley.

The 4UR Ranch strongly supports the values of this organization and is just one of the many conservation easements held by RiGHT throughout the San Luis Valley.

The Photography Workshop

When we were approached to host this photography workshop, it was with much joy that we accepted. The workshop gave many budding (and seasoned) artists and photographers a chance to visit the 4UR Ranch and experience the natural fall beauty of the Goose Creek Valley. One of our own crew was able to join in on the workshop, and rediscovered an appreciation for the gorgeous landscape we work in every day.

man speaks to photography workshop and showcases sample photography

Accomplished Photographer Mike Blakeman instructs group before sending them out to shoot

woman with camera takes picture of creek on fly fishing guest ranch

A photographer looks for the perfect shot of Goose Creek

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Palmer House Remodel

June 9th, 2014 by 4ur ranch

palmer house tv area with original fireplacePalmer House, a historic building at the 4UR Ranch, has a new look! The remodel of the building, taken on by Avery Auger of Creede America, started late winter/early spring.  When walking into Palmer House, you will now experience a light, open and airy feel. The building still has a lot of the same beautiful historic qualities that were there before, such as the rock chimney and fireplace, bead board and lofted ceilings, but now they are enhanced and highlighted.

Avery Auger of Creede America  put his wisdom into the start of this project, and worked closely with the Ranch, keeping with the ‘feel’ of the historic buildings populating the grounds. Avery strives to do just this in all his design work throughout Creede, grabbing inspiration from the historic “funky old shacks” and miner cabins, as well as the mining structures themselves. Avery is able to capture the uniqueness of these structures and use an evolution in design to bring a modern day beauty, comfort and touch to his architecture.

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Revival of Cabin Fever Daze in Creede, Colorado

March 19th, 2014 by 4ur ranch

Ice sculptures illuminated for Cabin Fever Daze in Creede, CO

Ice sculptures illuminated for Cabin Fever Daze in Creede, CO

Over the Valentine’s / President’s Day weekend, Creede resurrected an old festival with a new twist: Cabin Fever Daze. (Event Page)

A Valentine’s Dance at the Elk’s lodge started off the weekend, with music by the Rifters  (with special guest, Tish Hinojosa), and ended with local band, MoJones, playing at the Tommyknocker Tavern.

Creede Elks' Dance for Valentines Day 2014 - RiftersCreede Repertory Theatre presents Boomtown Improv ShowThe Creede Community Fund (CCF) teamed with the Creede Chamber of Commerce to put on the event. The idea was to draw in the crowds during a time of year that is usually slow for our little town. Creede businesses are still slowly recovering from the hit they took during the wildfires that burned last summer (West Fork & Papoose). Even though Creede was not evacuated like the 4UR Ranch was, Highway 149, the only road into town, was closed. Because there was no evacuation, there was also no federal or insurance relief for local businesses. Cabin Fever Daze is one of many future events the Chamber and the CCF intend to put on in order to help Creede come back and flourish.

Creating the 4UR's ice sculptureThe weekend was very successful. A few hundred people came to town, most families from the San Luis Valley. There was much to do through the whole weekend: Crafters had booths set up in the Creede Community Center, a Full Moon ski/snowshoe on Friday night, a snowmobile poker run, the First Annual Curling Tournament took place on the lower Creede pond, and free ice skate “rentals” were available for families to skate on the upper pond.


First Annual Creede Curling competitionLive Music - Mojones Band - at the Tommyknocker TavernKips Gril creates a huge snow sculptureIce cutters make blocks for the Creede Ice Sculpture Contest, as part of Cabin Fever DazeThe town businesses participated in a Hot Toddy contest. The general public bought tickets and tasted samples as they walked through historic downtown Creede, voting for their favorite drink.  Local artists (including Damon Gibbons from the 4UR) carved blocks of ice set up around town. Damon came in 3rd place for his sculpture, a 4UR “trophy” cauldron, which he set on fire for his finale on Sunday. At night, burning barrels illuminated street corners. The Creede Repertory Theatre opened on Saturday night for a packed performance of their improv show, Boomtown. Artist Stephen Quiller, who will be teaching two workshops at the 4UR this summer, opened his show “Beauty in the Burn.” The paintings are breathtaking, and his studio definitely worth a visit when stopping in Creede. Jennifer Inge  displayed her “CreedeHeart “ necklace for the weekend; and a preview of her upcoming jewelry line, “Out from the Ashes.” There were fireworks set off by Jenna Ford, a silent auction to raise money for the Creede Community Fund, and an all-church service set in the canyon uptown, surrounded by the beautiful cliffs of Creede.

4UR was present throughout, from ice sculpture, to a silent auction donation, and a general sponsor of the whole weekend’s event. We can truly say that we are “Creedehearts”, and feel very blessed to be near this wonderful, vibrant, and thriving community. If you have been curious to visit Creede in the winter, may we suggest coming to Cabin Fever Daze. You will be enchanted!


Horse-drawn carriage rides up and down Main Street, Creede

Horse-drawn carriage rides up and down Main Street, Creede

4UR Hockey Team

February 28th, 2014 by 4ur ranch

Pond_Hockey_Creede_2This January marked the 7th Annual Creede “Golden Pick” Tommyknocker Pond Hockey Tournament. From the very birth of this event, the 4UR has been present. Damon Gibbons remembers the winter of 2007, braving Wolf Creek Pass in the 4UR Duramax, to claim a vintage Zamboni that was donated to Creede by Durango’s Chapman Hill – a small in-town ski and skate facility . The Zamboni is one of the first made (Frank Zamboni & Sons serial #114). Chapman Hill had two newer Zamboni’s for their ice, and was using this one for local parades, hence the reason for the fire bolt painted down the sides. Still running strong, it is now used every winter to perfect the ice on the tournament ponds, located in the canyon north of Creede, across from the Community Center. In 2008, Local business owners Brian Brittain and Kip Nagy used their non-profit “Tommyknocker Tavern and Kip’s Grill for Creede Athletics” to host the first annual tournament, feeding the town’s ever-growing excitement for the sport. IMG_5388Local artist Jeff Henderson carved the “Creede Cup” (a wooden version of the Stanley Cup). Each year, the winning team’s name is engraved on a plaque attached to the Cup, which is displayed prominently in the Tommyknocker Tavern. Damon has played both Creede A and B leagues. Kiera Gibbons and Kate Brofft played together on the first all women’s team, the Hotel Hotties in 2009. It’s no wonder that during a friendly game of hockey behind the Gibbons’ house on Christmas day, Jay Smith and Damon decided to form (insert over excited announcer voice and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”) The First-Ever 4UR Pond Hockey Team! The weekend of the tournament arrived. Jay came down from Denver with two of his hockey buddies, Greg and Brad. They joined Damon, Kate and Tobe Brofft, along with last year’s summer staffers Shae Couch (wrangler) & Taryn Doud (waitstaff), to skate in the B league. Pond_Hockey_Creede_8 Sadly, they did not win the Creede Cup, but made great memories. Jay, who is a pond hockey veteran, said this is the most fun he has had on any team. You have not seen or heard the last of What the Puck. Look for us next year in the 2015 8th Annual “Golden Pick” Tommyknocker Pond Hockey Tournament!

Pond_Hockey_Creede_10 Pond_Hockey_Creede_9 Pond_Hockey_Creede_7 Pond_Hockey_Creede_6 Pond_Hockey_Creede_1 Pond_Hockey_Creede_1 (1)

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

Creede, Colorado and the Thread of History

September 13th, 2013 by Corey A. Edwards

The Upper Rio Grande Valley of Colorado’s southern Rockies was known to the native peoples well before anyone ever considered founding a town called Creede, Colorado here. The Paleo-hunters who discovered the area found it to be a good, summer hunting ground and enjoyed the hot springs in what would one day be called Wagon Wheel Gap. The nomadic Utes gave special significance to the formations in the Wheeler Geologic Area and had known the area for time out of mind when settlers arrived.

Creede, Colorado - Nicholas Creede & Nephew Harvey Lester, 1870 - Creede Historical Society Archive #3069-P-434

Creede’s namesake, Nicholas Creede with Nephew Harvey Lester, 1870 (Creede Historical Society Archive #3069-P-434)

A group of these settlers, including Kit Carson’s brother-in-law, Tom Boggs, were farming at Wagon Wheel Gap as early as 1840, spurred on by the discovery of gold in the San Juan Mountains. Prospectors and others were lured to the area by the promise of the wealth of the San Juan’s boom. By the mid–1870s, you even had tourism. Books and pamphlets enticed Easterners and Europeans to come experience the American West. Again, years before there was a town called Creede, Colordo you could book a room at a hotel in Wagon Wheel Gap.

Then, in 1890, Nicholas Creede discovered a high-grade silver vein in a tributary of the Rio Grande. Within weeks the boom camp’s population swelled to 10,000 – about 9,000 more than there are in all of Mineral County today. By 1892, over a million dollars in silver had been mined, making Colorado a “boom” state once again. The town that sprang up around Nicholas Creede’s find took his name and the rest, as they say, is history.

For over a century, our ranch, originally the Wagon Wheel Gap Hotel, has welcomed visitors to the area. People who come here expect to enjoy a simpler, slower way of life. To get a mountain experience, rich with history and the pure beauty of the natural world.

Soak in hot springs the Ute’s valued for their healing powers, tour the mines that powered the boom, relive the storied history of the American West: time stands still at the 4UR Dude Ranch.

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.

Southern Colorado Fishing Vacation

November 29th, 2010 by 4ur admin

Even before there was a Vacation Dude Ranch here in Creede, Colorado, travelers came. They came to soak in the warm, therapeutic hot springs in Wagon Wheel Gap. They came to experience the majesty of nature. In the 1880’s, the appeal of Wagon Wheel Gap lay in the cool summers, warm waters, and stunning landscape. The same is true today.

It does something to the soul to spend time in the Southern Rockies. It’s hard to explain, but if you’ve been here, you know what we mean.

This photograph was taken by Liesje, one of our guests.

Silver Thread Scenic Byway

October 18th, 2010 by 4ur admin

The Silver Thread Scenic Byway is a road worth traveling. Drive it soon, if you can, while there is still some colorful fall foliage to admire and not much in the way of snow. It’s a great drive for guests of our Colorado Vacation Dude Ranch in the summer – a wonderful way to get an overall feel for southwestern Colorado.

Travel the Silver Thread Scenic Byway the next time you come to our Creede Colorado Vacation Ranch.

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