Adventure Specialists inc

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Bear Basin Ranch CR 271 Westcliffe, CO. 81252

©2018 by adventure specialists

The History of Bear Basin Ranch

January 12, 2018

 

 Ute, Comanche, Arapaho, Pike, Fremont, Carson, Bent and Goodnight

rode our range

 

Some thirty-million years before the first migrating hunter clans passed through, the Laramide Orogeny began. The earth’s plate-stressed surface ruptured, slowly pushing skyward what was to become the Sange de Cristo and Wet mountains. Glaciers, erosion and weather eventually shaped the modern landscape.

 

Million of years later bands of Ute, Apache, Arapahos and others

discovered the region. Eventually, some returned to summer camp, hunt

and revere this magical land lying in the shadow of sacred Tawa, Pikes

Peak.

 

A Spanish expedition led by second generation conquistador, Coronado

passed nearby seeking fabled cities of gold in 1541, ending in disaster

somewhere far to the east.

 

In 1779, Juan Batista de Anza, another Spanish colonial grandee led a detachment of militia, Pueblo warriors and Ute allies from the south, across

South Park and down Ute Pass to ambush troublesome Comanche.

A decisive battle was fought somewhere on the flats east of the Wet Mountains where the infamous war chief Cuerno Verde was killed.

 

Zeb Pike struggled up nearby frozen Grape Creek in the bitter winter of

1806, dispatched, allegedly, to survey newly acquired US territory by traitorous General Wilkinson, amigo of and co-conspirator with Aron Burr.

Pike’s expedition was unknown to President Jefferson.

 

William Bent’s compadres; mountain men, trappers and traders, likely

ventured through Bear Basin in the early 1800s rendezvousing with Ute

hunting parties and fire water drinking, renegade Taos traders.

 

Finally, shortly after Bear Basin became US territory, in 1848 Kit Carson,

Broken hand Smith and a determined group of tough others travelled up

Hardscrabble Pass with John Fremont in tow. His journals suggest that his

party probably camped on the ranch before moving onward to a later winter

disaster.

 

The famous ‘pathfinder’ found his way to Taos while his expedition team

starved and froze to death in the severe winter snows of the San Juan

Mountains.

 

1860 to present: Bear Basin Ranch and Regional History.

 

Years after John Fremont's 1848 expedition up Hardscrabble Pass to Bear

Basin, the Wet Mountain Valley and on to the San Juan range, vast numbers

of elk, antelope and buffalo roamed the high, open, grass lands and

lush Valley bottoms. Flocks of reclusive turkeys fluttered and flitted through

ancient aspen grove colonies, perhaps older than human history itself in

post-glacial Colorado.

 

Summer bands of Ute, Apache, Comanche, Arapaho and others, continued

to camp and hunt, bringing large herds of horses with them. Brightly

colored paints and roman-nosed, short-tailed appaloosas grazed near sunrise-facing, hide covered lodges around Bear Basin’s geological volcanic

anomaly, Dry Lake. A number of lodge-placed stone rings, shaped, jasper

tool artifacts and other evidence can be seen still in place.

 

Generations of Ute had planted, nurtured, bent, peeled and otherwise

cared for specifically situated Ponderosa, Douglas Fir and Junipers on the

ridges and hills of the ranch lands. Spiritually vested medicine men and

vision quest seeking others must have absorbed inspiration and wisdom

while seated beneath these spirits of the natural world.

 

Meanwhile, reclusive traders and mountain men passed through, heading

south to Taos, the San Luis Valley, or northward to the headwaters of the

Arkansas River and on to South Park.

 

Pikes Peak or Bust 1859.

 

In 1859, before the start of the Civil War, gold was discovered on Cherry

Creek at what was later to become the State Capital, Denver. Caravans of

covered wagons bringing hopeful adventurers diverted from the southern

Santa Fe TraIl or came westward up the platte to seek fortune in the new

Colorado gold field. Others moved on around the territory, founding Colorado City on Fountain Creek below Pikes Peak and wandering southward through our area.

 

Rankin Scott Kelly, Colorado City and El Paso County’s first Sheriff cornered

and killed notorious outlaw, Filipe Espinosa nearby after he and his

brother, Vivian raided a sawmill on the Hardscrabble in 1863. Two years

later, Kelly hunted down and shot another deadly killer, ‘Big Tooth Jim’

somewhere south on the Huerfano.

 

It was the year of sixty-one - Kelly pinned a star

Big Tooth Jim, the Espinosa boys - others lurked not far

Rogue Cheyenne - Arapahoe would soon be run to ground.

El Paso's first Sheriff had just now come to town

 

The Ballad of Scott Kelly,   G Ziegler 2016.

 

Down the hill at Pueblo and Wetmore, Charlie Goodnight, Oliver Loving

and a colorful assortment of Texas cowboys, Mexican vaqueros and more

than a few desperadoes, drove great herds of cattle across the wild southwest plains to feed the growing Colorado mining camps.

 

In 1870, Goodnight established a ranch near Pueblo, started a stockman’s bank and partnered in cattle in the Wet Mountain Valley west of Bear Basin with Edwin and Elton Beckwith.

 

A new wagon road and stage route was completed up Oak Creek from Florence on the Arkansas in 1870. The road followed an old Ute trail crossing

Bear Basin’s northern Bone Yard Park, continuing on across what came to

be called Dutch Flats above Querida to booming Rosita.

 

A stage station to change out fresh teams for the long, daily haul up from

Florence was establish at what we now call the Hay Meadow.

The foundations and spring are still there. The original homestead house

and current ranch headquarters was build nearby in the early 1880s.

 

The Ute had also earlier chosen the site. Nearby hills and ridges are dotted

with their modified trees, stone monuments and several mounds, many with

views of Pikes Peak or the Sangre de Cristo Range.

 

Another wagon road, followed Fremont’s path up Hardscrabble from

Wetmore, joining the Oak Creek road at Bear Basin. This was later to become much of what is currently State Highway 96 to Westcliffe.

 

Silver Park and Bear Basin Mining

 

It was on this road that a few hopeful prospectors and miners built a cluster

of cabins, barns and corrals that was to become Bear Basin’s main ranch

facility. The earliest mining discoveries were on the ranch and nearby lands

to the east and south which came to be called Silver Park.

 

The road up from Wetmore was partially constructed in 1863 when Si

Smith, Sheriff of Pueblo County and others from Pueblo located a showing

of gold and silver on upper Hardscrabble Creek. The Smith claims were

recorded at Canon City in July of that year.

 

Situated in the ancient metamorphic bed rock of the Wet Mountains, Silver

Park lacked the potential for the rich deposits found in geologically more

recent, hydrothermal enriched, Tertiary volcanics at Rosita and in the Wet

Mountain Valley’s Silver Cliff deposits. Only low grade ore was found in

narrow quartz veins along the upper Hardscrabble.

 

Undaunted, Bear Basin hopefuls dug numerous prospect holes in the erosional-exposed, mineralized, veins. Several produced enough free gold in

druzy quartz matrix and a bit of galena-amalgamated silver to warrant more

extensive tunneling and deeper shafts. Three; the Woodhull, Blue Bird and

Mac & Mac were granted claim patents; title to the land deeded by the federal government. A spec or two of gold in quartz can still be found among

the tailings scattered about the ranch.

 

1870 - Rosita; “gold in them east hills”.

 

Extensive deposits of silver with some associated gold were discovered

five miles southwest of Bear Basin in 1870. Local rancher, Daniel Baker

and several visiting friends located a rich outcrop which was to soon become

the productive Senator Mine. The Humboldt, Pocahontas, Leviathan,

Virginia and other properties followed two years later establishing the boom

town of Rosita. The town expanded to over a square mile in 1874 then

slowly died following the later discoveries at silver cliff.

 

The neighboring town of Querida, three miles southwest of Bear Basin, followed in 1877 with the location of the Bassick Mine in a breccia pipe lined

with gold on Mt. Tyndall. The Bassick became the only substantial producer

of gold in the county and one of the richest mines in the state.

 

Eventually, economic reality interceded at Bear Basin. A lack of high grade

ore and mining costs closed the diminutive mining operations there.

A few entrepreneurs drifted on to Leadville or another of the new Colorado

boom towns. Others, less motivated, moved over the hill to take a job shift

in the lucrative Senator, Pocahontas or another thriving mine at Rosita.

 

Salaries were low so dropping a few high grade ore pieces ‘accidentally’ in

the lunch box to achieve better compensation was not beyond the norm of

the times. Dance halls, saloons and a lively wild-west society at Rosita afforded an escape from grueling underground drudgery while assorted houses of worship salvaged and soothed lost souls.

 

Up north, the new state was coming together. The former mining camp,

Denver becomes the Capital of Colorado in1876. George A. Custer was

still the martyred hero of the moment so his name was attached to the new

Custer County, severed from neighboring Fremont County by politics and

maneuvers lost to history in 1877.

 

1878 - Silver Cliff; Silver-Silver and more Silver…

 

A big strike was made on the east edge of the Wet Mountain Valley in a

volcanic outcrop extruding through and raising above the late, lake bed

sedimentary deposits of the valley triggering the next regional boom.

Rositans, R. S. Edwards, Robert Powell and George Hafford filed

the first claims in June 1878 to began developing the Racine Boy

property. Others quickly followed.

 

Silver was in abundance but most ore was a complex mineralization requiring complicated milling and processing. This raised operation costs

and somewhat limited production. The rich, shallow deposit, chloride-based

horn silver was quickly worked out leaving manganese-silver ore which was

difficult to refine. Meanwhile, a couple of settler’s cabins mushroom almost

overnight into Colorado’s third largest city, Silver Cliff.

 

Most silver mining in the Wet Mountain Valley was over by the turn of the

century, but some mining continued on an intermittent basis during the

1900s. A few small operations remained in production until World War Two,

shipping ore to Leadville or El Paso for processing. Local miner, George

Colgate recalled working in the Bull Domingo Mine until it finally closed in

the 1950s.

 

1881 - Comes a railroad and rewards for insiders. WESTCLIFFE

                           

                                Ayn Rand would have loved it.

 

“It’s a mighty hard road from Westcliffe to Canyon and the road has

ten mile grade. It was on this grade that Casey lost his life and now he’s

dead and gone.

 

He was going down the track doing ninety miles an hour when

the whistle broke into a scream - oh they found him in the wreck

near Blackburn Station, he was scolded to death by the steam”

 

William Palmer’s expanding mountain railroad, the D&RG, completed rails

to Leadville up the Arkansas River in 1880 following a short right of way

war with rival railroad, Santa Fe. Immediately after, a branch line was hastily surveyed and built up Grape Creek Canyon from Canyon City to tap the beckoning new riches of Custer County.

 

William Bell, Palmer’s business partner, had quietly purchased land in the

Wet Mountain Valley close to Silver Cliff where he briefly kept diary cows

and produced cheese. It was no surprise when the new railroad terminated

at Bell’s property. It had already been quietly surveyed out into lots and

streets. Palmer called it Westcliffe after one of his wife’s favorite places on

the coast of England.

 

The cheese works passed into history as plotted lots sold at inflated price.

Visionary Silver Cliff merchants and hopeful others flocked the long mile

westward to the new center of activity at Bell and Palmer’s new railroad

terminal.

 

Westcliffe survived to soon become the county seat. The railroad did not.

In August 1881, only a few months after completion, an immense flood

roared down Grape Creek destroying all of the bridges and miles of track.

Palmer’s investors and stock holders stoically anted up. The road was rebuilt

to run another eight years before yet another flood destroyed the line,

triggering final abandonment. Meanwhile, Bell and Palmer had moved

on to other endeavors.

 

1889 - Back to wagons, stage coaches and slower times

 

The daily Florence - Rosita stage continued to run and quieter times in the

Valley prevailed. Cattle again had to be wrangler-driven down the hill to

market and lower grade ore piled up at the mines.

 

Maybe it was not so quiet? Northward at Cotopaxi on the Arkansas, a

D&RGW express was robbed by desperadoes in August,1891 by a group

called the ‘Wet Mountain Gang’. Aided by a former Missouri Quantrill

Raider, ”Old Dick McCoy” who had a ranch nearby, the bandits escaped

with saddle bags stuffed with gold bars and other valuables initiating a

western-wide search for the perpetrators. The gang reportedly holed up in

our country then fled southward.

 

Key players in the search were (gotta love this), Sheriff ‘Jimmy Steward’ of

Fremont County, Sheriff ‘Black Bill’ Kelly of Huerfano County and the notorious Pinkerton agent, sometime detective Tom Horn, later hung for murder in a Wyoming range war.

 

Whew…Doc Holiday had died a few years back in

the booming railroad resort town of Glenwood Springs or he likely would

have been dealing cards on the scene.

 

Whoever was Sheriff of Custer County when this played out is unknown but

it is certain that he and a local posse would have been heavily involved.

Beyond duties of the job, the railroad offered cash reward would have been

big incentive. Apparently confusion reigned. Rival posses chased

and arrested each other in what we would call ‘a cluster’.

 

1901 - Comes another railroad; The Texas Creek Branch

 

A reorganized D&RGW constructed a new branch line up to thriving Westcliffe from the main line along the Arkansas. Costly to build, with a number of complicated loops and long trestles, the new standard gauge line was well engineered and located unlike the previous, hastily constructed, flood prone line up Grape Creek.

 

The line offered daily passenger service to the big front range cities by

connecting with mainline trains. Freights were scheduled as needed. Ore

was shipped from the mines to downhill mills and cattle travelled quickly to

distant markets. Supplies and needed equipment to keep the community

prospering arrived daily from below.

 

It is probably true that one could reach Denver faster in the early 1900s

than by highways today from Westcliffe. The Westcliffe line prospered during the early years but became unprofitable as mining declined and population dwindled in the county.

 

The D&RGW fell into bankruptcy and receivership in the dark economic year of 1935. Court appointed trustees understandably decided to abandon unproductive lines, resulting in the final closing of the Westcliffe Branch in 1937.

 

Good highways by 1930s standards now served the region from three directions. Trucks and technologically improving automobiles replaced the

rails with little notice.

 

My dad at the time was proudly driving a new 1936 Oldsmobile which lasted

as family transport well into the late 1940s after I had arrived on the

scene. He was writing, printing and delivering the venerable Florence Citizen before the Army sent him to Hill Field at Ogden to rehab shot up B-24s and 17s.

 

Ranching and Farming at Bear Basin

 

Following the mining flurry, several families settled into planting potatoes,

barley and oats in the open bottoms of what was to become Bear Basin

Ranch. Washington Larey held title to what is now the main ranch. In 1908,

he built and lived in the small cabin, now the ranch office, until 1925

when he sold out to Robert Sielsky, a relative of the nearby Tomsick family.

Sielsky built a new upscale log dwelling in 1929 which is now the ranch kitchen and staff bunk house.

 

The Sielskys threw a party for the neighborhood when the house was finished. I heard the story from an elderly lady who introduced herself as Mrs. Ricketts who stopped by with her family sometime in the1980s. She recalled playing fiddle with musical others while couples danced around the

kitchen.

 

She told an interesting story of living in a small mining camp near

Bear Gulch on the east end of Bear Basin at a working mine called

the ‘Prairie dog’. As it turned out, the operation was set up to fleece investors.

 

The only gold ore coming up the shaft had been brought in and

‘salted’. Apparently it was quite rich. Now, all that remains are several

foundations, a sizable tailings dump and a scattering of prairie dog holes.

 

Getting back to the Sielskys, a few dairy cows were kept for milk along a

with a batch of chickens supplementing low-income subsistence barley,

oats and potato farming. Hay from the now abandoned stage stop meadow

was cut by horse team, then gathered up and stacked for winter feeding.

 

Over the hill in Brush Hollow, Harry Bate set up a clandestine still at the

head of a gully not far from the Dry Lake School during probation. His potent, illicit beverage was well known and sought widely around the east hills neighborhood.

 

Remains of the Bate homestead and barn can still be seen. I met him during

the summer of 1971 when he rode a horse down Hardscrabble to his

later home in Wetmore. He must have been over ninety at the time. A pair

of his antique metal stirrups sit on a shelf nearby as I write this history.

 

Lee Jones; horses, cattle and a new mining boom

 

Thinking about Harry brings me to my hero and cowboy mentor, Lee Jones.

They were close friends and neighbors. Lee bought Harry’s place which

remains a part of Bear Basin Ranch when he moved to Wetmore.

 

Lee grew up horse training and cowboying at Dodge City where his dad

trained and sold remounts to the cavalry. In 1917, Lee volunteered for the

Kansas National Guard serving in France with the 35th Division along with

Harry Truman and other Kansan. He had a horse shot out from under him

in the Meuse-Argonne offensive and lost the use of one lung to mustard

gas.

 

"In nineteen and seventeen my country said “son there’s work to be done”

so they gave me a tin hat, gave me a gun ...and sent me off to the war"

 

Lee and wife Anna moved to Custer County from Spearville, Kansas in

1927. They bought a place near Ilse from Carl Griffin, one of the large land

holders along with the Spaldings, Sparlings, Hardins and later Dilleys, north

of the Hardscrabble.

 

Lee trucked potatoes, ran cattle and dabbled in horse trading through the

1930s then moved back to Kansas during World War Two. His young

daughter, Leona Fern attended Dry Lake School on the ranch before the

move.

 

The Jones’ moved back to Custer County in 1947 buying the Archie

McGregor place, now our home and headquarters, a mile or so distant from

the county road and main ranch buildings. The house, situated near the old abandoned stage road, was built with hand cut, squared logs in the early 1880s. Several original, restored out buildings remain including a granary, smoke house and small barn.

 

The early 1950s saw a brief mining boom. The government was buying up

and stockpiling what was then considered strategic minerals. These included uranium, thorium and assorted rare earths which turned out, excepting uranium, to occur in abundance at Bear Basin. Lee, along with local friends, Ed Knobe and Ernie Sparling set out prospecting and staking

claims around the east hills.

 

The many metal bearing veins and pegmatites around the ranch which

had been explored during earlier times also proved to be a source for thorium and sought after rare earth minerals. Thorium, like uranium is radio active, easily located with then technologically new Geiger Counters.

 

Lee leased a rich deposit on the hill north of the ranch house to a mining

company. Core drilling and sampling led to a working mine with head

frame, hoist and a sizable shaft. The mine was appropriately named the

‘Anna Lee’.

 

Leland Niles of Silver Cliff, another friend of the Jones ran the hoist and

other jobs. He told me about a cave-in which killed two workers around

1953. The government stopped buying minerals, closing the mine shortly

after the accident.

 

The Jones’ moved in to Silver Cliff in the 1960s keeping the ranch going

from town. Anna died in 1972. Lee died in 1985 at eighty six when a young

horse he was riding fell on him out in the hay meadow. He was hospitalized

in Canyon City but never recovered.

 

Bear Basin Ranch; 1970 to the present

 

This is where I come in. Fresh out of graduate school, the Army and a

combat tour in Vietnam, I was managing Spencer Penrose’s old ranch,

Emerald Valley above the Broadmoor at Colorado Springs. Looking for

calmer places and a new direction, I saw an ad for a place for sale near

Westcliffe which looked appealing. It turned out to be three hundred fifty

acres and a group of run down, abandoned buildings.

 

The price was right; eighty dollars per acre with a low down payment. I bought it immediately. This begins the story of modern Bear Basin Ranch.

The earlier resident ranching farmers had long abandoned the place. The

Rosco family had last lived there in the 1950s. It was now owned by Marvin

Ham who lived in Penrose. Marvin ran a few summer cows and shared

grazing with neighbor, Lee Jones.

 

After shoeing residing cows out of the houses, patching roofs and replacing

windows, the place was soon almost habitable. Bidding Emerald Valley

good by, I moved in while continuing to run the occasional outdoor program

for Outward Bound and my old alma mater, Colorado College to keep a

cash flow going.

 

I rounded up several friends to come in as investors. Our vision was to develop an outdoor educational facility while creating a working ranch and retreat well away from Richard Nixon's urban madness.

 

Mike Lowe and brothers, Jeff and Greg tossed in some bucks to get things

rolling. Mike and wife Carol moved into the bunk house. I claimed the Larey

cabin. Carol secured a teaching position with Custer County School while

Mike and I were off working winter Outward Bound programs on skis in the

San Juans. Colorado College anthropology professor, Mike Nowak also

came in with us.

 

The Lowes went on to found Lowe Alpine Systems, a successful mountaineering equipment manufacturer which they eventually sold for multi-millions. We like to claim that it all started at the ranch.

 

As surrounding land became available, we continued to buy and lease,

eventually reaching the four thousand or so acres the ranch encompasses

today. Meanwhile, Lee Jones and I became fast friends. I had horse

packed in South America and briefly played polo in the army but had no

solid, real ranching experience. He was happy to take me on as his apprentice.

 

Combining our pastures, we ran a summer yearling cow operation while

training and trading a growing remuda of horses which eventually reached

eighty head. He preferred Appaloosas so I soon had a register Appy stallion

named Ben for breeding and riding. Ben sired a long line of excellent, colorful,working horses which we later used on the ranch and for pack trips in the nearby Sangre de Cristos.

 

Lee would take me to the livestock sales at Salida, Pueblo and La Junta to

buy and sell horses. We would bring them home in my restored 1947 Diamond T stock truck then sort in the big, wood-rail corals. I would ride the rough ones out, Lee shouting encouragement when I frequently hit the

ground. We would sell the good ones ‘guaranteed’ to suitable buyers. The

others went back to the ‘buyer beware’ sale barns for what they would

bring.

 

Eventually, Lee pretty much retired, leaving me to run both ranches. He

kept a gentle horse or two for a ride on the ranch with a lady friend, Clara

McHale, a Spaulding family gal from Canyon City or with Leland Niles’

daughter, Jacky, now the County Zoning Officer, who lived across the street

in Silver Cliff.

 

We frequently went to town together for lunch at Susie and Danny

Loafman’s popular cafe. He loved Susie’s ‘western sandwich’ with fries on

the side and bitter, day old coffee.

 

Lee generously arranged his will so that I would be able to buy the Jones

Ranch at a very low cost from his estate. This added another 1000 aces including the old log house which is now our home and headquarters.

 

Outfitting, Guiding and Outdoor Recreation

 

I realized early on that I would not be able to make land payments by just

ranching. Using experience as a climbing guide, my education and army

training, It made sense to develop programs and activities along these

lines that could supplement income from cattle and horses.

 

In 1972, Outward Bound instructor friend, Rick Medrick and I formed a rafting company on the Arkansas River based from our whitewater experience running trips through the big Colorado River Canyons. We named it simply Arkansas River Tours’. The company lives on today, one of several dozen serving a booming tourist industry which we had founded.

 

We leased property at Coaldale, later buying a place on the river at

Cotopaxi to use as a base. The operation quickly grew successful, supplemented by groups from Colorado College and others through our

many outdoor organization contacts. I sold out my share to Rick in the early

1980s to concentrate on expanding activities at Bear Basin. We did not get

rich but the income generated helped make land payments at home.

 

Meanwhile, a Bear Basin based guide and outfitting business, also started

around 1972, was thriving. With support from local state wildlife officer, Dan

Riggs and wife Arlie, ranching friends, Floyd and Mary Kattnig and others, I

soon had the needed USFS permits to beginning running multiple day

horse trips in the surrounding mountains along with hunting and guided

climbs of the Crestone peaks.

 

Dan generously showed me the high valleys, old cow camps and almost

lost trails that would become so important to the growing pack trip

business. I learned his secrets of where the big elk and bucks hung out and

where alpine lake trout were big as submarines.

 

With the goal to keep the land and facilitates as close as possible to a

working, traditional, old west ranch, we continued developing public horse

programs and educational events on the ranch, carefully avoiding dude/guest ranch activities.

 

A wilderness tent camp, teepees and a yurt were set up for overnight

camping out of sight and away from roads. The old log structures at the

headquarters served as summer staff lodging, trip logistics center and as

the main office.

 

During the summer of 1980, my now wife and long time manager of ranch

operations, Amy Finger entered the scene while visiting her family cabin in

nearby Cristo Vista. She stopped in for a ride, applied for a job and never left, except for completing a degree in geology/climatology at the University of Colorado over a couple of winters. I admit it took a few nights with my old Gibson guitar and campfire romancing to close the deal.

 

In 2000, we successfully placed most of the ranch land into a Conservation Easement reflecting our goals, values and vision for the future of Bear Basin. The ranch will continue to serve as an extended natural habitat for ranching, education, responsible recreation, wildlife, native vegetation and pine forest without the destructive threat of new roads, subdivision or developments.

 

Bear Basin Pack Trips and Adventure Specialists

 

Bringing events up to date; In 2012, Arkansas native, ex-rodeo cowboy,

Mike Smithwick bought the outfitting business and USFS permits calling it

‘Bear Basin Pack Trips’. We retained the majority of horses, cow operation

and other activities that take place on the ranch. Mike and his staff continue

the ranch riding programs and use of facilities on a leased basis.

 

There is a lot more to the story, We have operated an international guiding

and educational tour business out of Bear Basin for many years. We ran

horseback and trekking programs in the depths of Mexico’s Copper

Canyon, did horse trips in the Spanish Pyrenees, played polo in

Argentina and bounced around south America. We continue to operate a mall, educational focused, horseback, trekking and documentary support agency in the old Inca capital, Cusco in Peru with talented local partners.

 

Somewhere over the years, after graduating from Colorado College and

Peru’s national university, I became a recognized Inca specialist archeologist

spending several months yearly on projects in the high Andes continuing

today as the Andean Research Project. 

 

Filming work with the Discovery Channel, BBC, History and Science Channels along with funding from National Geographic and the Royal Geographical Society of London has helped keep projects going and my time away from the ranch subsidized.

 

So there you have it, the short version. I left out many interesting stories

and happenings around Custer County saved for another occasion. Dan

Riggs and I were among the founders of the county search and rescue unit.

I was briefly county Sheriff who made probably the last arrest on horseback.

The stories and tall tales could go on.

 

"Come gather round the fire boys a story I will tell.

It was down along the fountain, the Utes all knew it well.

Pass the bottle, stir the coals, listen to the owl

where the deer still roam and ranging coyotes howl"

 

            G. Ziegler - the Ballad of Sheriff Scott Kelly, 2016, in A minor

 

 

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