Basalt graduate’s family roots extend back to the founding of the town
Tyler Sims is a sixth-generation member of the Luchsinger family
In a year swept by changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Basalt High School’s graduation on Saturday will have a subtle reminder of rock solid foundation.
Graduating senior Tyler Sims comes from a family with six generations of Basalt ties. His great, great, great grandparents were Gabriel and Julia Luchsinger, immigrants from Switzerland (Gabe) and Germany (Julia) who made their way to Basalt in the mid-1880s. They were among the first ranchers in the area.
Signs of Sims’ roots abound around town. His family lives in a house built by the Luchsingers in 1910. Up front is a towering blue spruce tree, planted by Tyler’s late grandfather, Jack Smith, when Jack was just 3 years old.
Next door is the “halfway” house — a wooden structure that Gabe and Julia built in 1886 as a way station for stage travelers between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. It’s been historically designated by the town and featured on the Basalt walking history tour.
The Luchsingers had numerous influences on Basalt. The Luchsinger springs on lower Basalt Mountain help supply the town’s drinking water. They were also among landowners who sold property to the Colorado Midland Railroad for its entry into what was originally known as Aspen Junction and later became Basalt, according to “Basalt: Colorado Midland Town” by Clarence and Ralph Danielson. The book also said they operated one of the most successful dairy operations in the Basalt area.
“It is cool when we go down to breakfast on Sunday or dinner on Friday night and we walk past the Café Bernard. That little alley right there, there’s a sign that says Luchsinger Lane,” Sims said. “That’s my family.”
There are also Lucksingers in Basalt’s past. Tyler’s mom, Carrey Sims, said family lore has it that there was a family feud that inspired one side to change the spelling of the name (note the Luch vs. Luck). “Colorado Midland Town” quoted Jake Lucksingers as saying that townspeople misspelled his family name so often they capitulated and kept the incorrect spelling while other branches of the family did not.
Whatever the reason for the name change, Basalt’s history is filled with Luchsingers and Lucksingers.
“I’ve taken a few trips up to the cemetery with school and my family. It’s awesome to see there’s 15 to 20 of my family members up there,” Sims said.
While members of some generations of Tyler’s branch of Luchsingers drifted away from Basalt, the family always retained the original homestead. Tyler’s grandparents, Jack and Barbara Smith, returned to Basalt in the 1960s and raised their family there.
Carrey grew up on the family homestead and returned to Basalt after college to become a teacher. She’s been at Basalt Middle School for 26 years, cementing the relationship she’s had with her hometown.
Tyler said he loves the sense of place in Basalt.
“Everyone knows everyone, which I think is an awesome thing,” Tyler said. “My mom and I joke it’s a pain to go to the grocery store because it takes three hours because we have conversations with everybody. You can’t drive from here to Blue Lake without somebody waving, knowing who you are. That’s probably my favorite part about it and sporting events at the high school.
“We just had a baseball game two nights ago, first game of the year but it wasn’t going to be a big game or anything,” Tyler continued. “There were easily over 100 people there — students, parents and community members. Everyone supports everyone here. I really enjoy that.”
Carrey said she never had any doubt that she would return to Basalt after attending the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. When she returned to the Roaring Fork Valley, she met and married Michael Sims. They settled in the 1910 house where they are raising Tyler and his younger brother Parker.
While Riverside Drive is lined with homes now, Carrey recalls when she had to look into the distance to see neighbor’s homes.
In a scholarship application to the Basalt Regional Historical Society, Tyler wrote, “My mother Carrey gained many memories from living on this homestead her whole life. She remembers being a little girl running around helping my grandpa irrigate the ranch to keep it running. My mom’s favorite thing in the world (to) this day was riding on the John Deere tractor with my grandpa for hours while he taught her how to cut and bale hay at a very young age.”
Like her ancestors, Carrey has witnessed a lot of changes in Basalt.
“You kind of just have to go with the flow,” she said.
Tyler, 18, is preparing to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder next school year. He played golf, basketball and baseball in high school. He earned a lucrative Evans Scholarship after working as a caddy at Basalt’s Roaring Fork Club. The scholarship provides tuition and housing for four years at CU. Additional scholarships from the Basalt Regional Historical Society and Colorado 500 will pay for books and other education-related expenses.
The historical society offers Generations Scholarships to Basalt High School students who are members of at least a fourth-generation Basalt region family. Janice Duroux of the historical society said Tyler is an “all-American boy from a wonderful family.”
Tyler is currently thinking he will pursue a degree related to business management and marketing. His dream is return to Basalt after college to help out with the business his dad started 31 years ago, Four Wheelers 4×4 Center.
Tyler is uncertain where life will take him in the long run, but he’s certain the Luchsinger homestead will remain in the family. He wrote in the historical society scholarship application: “I am very proud to say that I am a part of this family and plan to keep this property in our family in the future. My family and the Basalt community has taught me a lot in the last 18 years and it has made me the person I am today.”
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