Archive for the ‘Dude Ranch 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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Love at the 4UR

February 17th, 2016 by 4ur ranch

Over the years, the 4UR has witnessed several couples emerge from our summer staff. We know of seventeen couples who have married or are in a serious relationship, and we’re sure there are more that have missed our radar. One may look for employment at the 4UR for a fun summer experience, which oftentimes leads to meeting your best friends, and sometimes your true love. While we are not suggesting we are better than a dating service, here are a few the love stories which blossomed here at the 4UR:

Kyle and Kate Michaels

Kyle and I met on the 4UR Ranch during the summer of 2004, when he signed on as a ranch hand and I as a housekeeper. We both were looking for a summer that consisted of making new friends, hiking, working hard, and enjoying all of the incredible outdoor opportunities that the ranch has to offer. Little did we know, a friendship that started during Ping-Pong games, hikes, fence-building, meals in the EDR (employee dining room), bonfires and barn dances would develop into a love that would endure for 12 years (and counting). We were married in an open park overlooking station 10 on June 4th, 2007. We now have two amazing daughters, Ruby Mae (3) and Ella Jane (1 month). We feel so blessed to have found one another (who would of thought that a PNW girl from Oregon and a country boy from West Texas could make it work?!), and to call Creede our home. I work as a RN (Creede Family Practice) and Tobacco Prevention Coordinator (Mineral Co. Public Health), and Kyle is assisting with all of the exciting renovations at La Garita Ranch, across from the 4UR.

bride smiles as groom looks at herin the middle a black and white of two daughters on right happy couple with newborn

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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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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

The Buildings of 4UR Ranch, Part II

May 24th, 2013 by Katie Pate

In our last blog, we wrote on some of the buildings you can expect to see when arriving for your dude ranch vacation at 4UR. We continue this week with some of the older and more rustic spaces on the ranch.

The Barn: A lot of the magic of 4UR is nurtured inside this building. Most of our equestrian gear is kept here and the occasional horse. However, during these warm months, the horses prefer being in the field, where they can graze and frolic. The barn is where we introduce our guests to their mounts for their stay. Attached to the barn is the arena, where we practice horsemanship with the kids and children.  One of my favorite things about the barn: the smells. Horsehair, leather, dust, hay and saddle oil. Breathe deep and realize you are more than 100 miles from anything that resembles a metropolitan.

The Magic of the American West awaits you at 4UR Ranch.

The Magic of the American West awaits you at 4UR Ranch.

The Old Spring House: Although this building is not open to our guests, this adobe structure is a warm pink-brown color and was the location of the bathhouse in an earlier era of the ranch. When this was the Wagon Wheel Gap Hotel and the train dropped health-seeking guests across the river from us, this was where they came to bathe in the healing waters of the bubbling mineral springs.

The Mine: Another relic of history here at the ranch, the mines were very active and busy places in their heyday, with prospectors seeking feldspar and other minerals. Now, the wooden structures on the hill are little more than symbols of the past and a reminder of the many purposes this little valley has served. Charming and rustic telltales of the American history in the West, both recent and distant, are easy to find here.


Take the Waters of Wagon Wheel Gap

March 20th, 2012 by Gail

The tradition of “taking the waters” is perhaps as old as civilization itself. In prehistoric times there were sacred springs. The Romans built sophisticated baths. People long ago flocked to baths from Baden Baden, Germany to Bath, Britain. They traveled to spas in Vichy, France and Fukata, Japan. In the Americas, native peoples held sacred the waters of Saratoga, New York and Wagon Wheel Gap, Colorado.


The Historic Wagon Wheel Gap Hotel

The nomadic Ute people frequented the warm, healing waters of Wagon Wheel Gap long before European settlers discovered them. They called the hot springs and mineral waters “Little Medicine” and used them for healing and in sacred rituals. When an influx of homesteaders and miners put an end to the Ute’s annual visits to the waters, tourists took their place. More than a decade before there was a town in Creede, there was a hotel and spa at Wagon Wheel Gap.

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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.

Historic Colorado Dude Ranch

April 15th, 2009 by 4ur admin

History comes alive during a dude ranch vacation

History comes alive during a dude ranch vacation

The 4UR Ranch is no ordinary family dude ranch; it is one of the oldest in the state. The property was known as a sacred place by the Ute Indians, who called the natural hot springs here “Little Medicine” because of their healing powers. After the Ute left the area, the Wagon Wheel Gap Hot Springs Hotel was built in the 1870s and the area became a welcoming stop for travelers. Ultimately, the Wagon Wheel Gap Hotel developed a world-wide reputation as a health resort, and drew an international clientele to its restorative waters and clean air.

By the 1880s, the ranch was known as much for its fabulous fishing and hunting as for its healing powers. This was one reason that the ranch continued to flourish even after the proliferation of antibiotics caused the “Golden Spa Age” to come to an end; the Wagon Wheel Hot Springs Hotel was well poised to become the Wagon Wheel Gap Ranch, and the Golden Age of the Colorado dude ranch was born.

The Wagon Wheel Gap Ranch is remembered in the current name, 4UR Ranch. The brand used by Wagon Wheel Gap Ranch came from the two W’s in the name, which translated into two double Us, or four Us. Thus the cattle brand 4UR, and the name of our lovely 4000 acre ranch today. Come check us out: your family will never forget your Dude Ranch Vacations.