Saturday, November 24, 2012

Meyer Ranch Park - An Ethereal Experience

Early morning light created an ethereal effect

It was a late fall, Sunday morning and I was searching for peace and quiet. I found it at Meyer Ranch Park just south of Evergreen near Conifer, Colorado. I didn't make it to church that day but it felt like I was in heaven. The early light shining through the transparent aspen leaves created an ethereal effect. It reminded me of being inside a cathedral with huge stained-glass windows. The sun felt warm on my neck and the entire landscape was bathed in yellow. It was perfect. It was paradise. I think this open space probably goes unnoticed from the highway but its history is fairly remarkable.

Mount Legault and its lush meadows were originally homesteaded by the McIntyre family around 1870. They fed and lodged travelers who came up the Turkey Creek wagon road. In 1883 Louis Ramboz purchased the land for haying, cattle and timber. Ramboz built a Queen Anne style ranch house with lumber milled on the property. It is still there today and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Their home became a stagecoach stop and was known as the Midway House because it is located midway between Denver and Bailey. Curiously, the ranch was also called Circus Town. It reportedly served as a winter quarters for some of the exotic animals from the PT Barnum Circus.

Ralph Kirkpatrick bought the place in 1912. In 1940 he cleared the hillside for skiing and opened the Mount Lugo Ski Area. Guests were transported from the road to the base of the lift using a horse drawn sled. From there a motor powered tow rope hauled people to the top. Unfortunately the resort closed in 1942 due to the gas rationing that was then taking place. Remnants of the tow's motor are still visible on the mountain today. Norman and Ethel Meyer bought the ranch in 1950 and made substantial renovations that modernized the home. Jefferson County purchased a portion of the land in 1987 and subsequently opened it to the public as Meyer Ranch Park.

The entire landscape was bathed in yellow

Circus animals may have wintered in this meadow during the 1890s

The Queen Anne style ranch house is still visible today

Mt Lugo Ski Area was open in the 1940s

Meyer Ranch Park today

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