Snowmass history: Ranchers’ delight |

Snowmass history: Ranchers’ delight

Owl Creek road and ranches looking east toward the pass.
Aspen Historical Society/courtesy |

An article in the Oct. 3, 1885 edition of the Rocky Mountain Sun shared an update on local ranchers. “Brush creek and vicinity offers particular advantages to the ranchers, as it is so near the Aspen market. The largest ranch, and perhaps the most profitable, is that of Jote Smith, at the mouth of the creek. Mr. Smith purchased this ranch in 1883, of several parties, and has over 300 acres of fine land. He has this year 90 acres of oats, of heavy yield, part of which will go 60 bushels to the acre. He will have between 3,500 and 4,000 bushels of oats from this field. This crop is worth $6,000 at least. He has a fine garden and has set out a number of fruit trees, some of which are doing well.

Alex Cruikshank has a small, but valuable ranch above Mr. Smith’s, where he has raised a fine garden, and some oats. Crop worth $1,000. Tim Stapleton’s ranch on Owl creek, east of the above, is also one of the finest in the valley, as Tim is one of the pioneers and most prosperous ranchers. He has 50 acres of oats that he thinks will go 45 bushels to the acre, machine measure. He has 10 acres of potatoes that will yield him 35 tons, worth $4,000. Adjoining Stapleton’s ranch, the Marron brothers have two ranches which they purchased of Tom Donovan and Lu Bivert. They have 45 acres of oats, that is also a heavy yield, and worth $2,000.”

Additional ranches mentioned included those owned by Angus McPherson, Frank Mann, Chris Wenger, Giddings and Lyman, the Burke brothers, Miles and Sam Carroll, Michael Askans, Frank Gaynor, John L. Green, William B. Root on Wild Cat creek and farther down on Wildcat Creek were Mr. Lee and J.J. Fagan. The main crops included oats, hay and potatoes, along with gardens for fresh vegetables.

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