Tales from the Tread: Centennial Ranches across the valley honored
Tales from the Tread
Across the nation, family farms and ranches, historic barns and other agricultural sites are disappearing at an alarming rate. Colorado and Routt County’s ranching and farming families have weathered and survived numerous challenges including the pressures of growth and development, changes in farming methods, drought and economic conditions. By persevering, these families have helped to preserve important pieces of our state and county’s commercial and cultural history.
For over 25 years, History Colorado and the Colorado Department of Agriculture have recognized the important role that agriculture has played in our state’s history and economic development through the Centennial Farms program at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo.
The event is on Aug. 26 this year. Centennial Farms or Ranches specifically are honored when the farm or ranch has belonged to the same family for at least 100 years, has a minimum of 160 acres or gross at least $1,000 in annual sales, and the farm or ranch is currently a working farm or ranch.
In Routt County, 12 ranching families have received this honor through the state. They are:
• Sullivan Ranch, with property in Routt, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties, dating from 1884
• Summer Ranch near Sidney, established in 1889
• Crags Ranch (Green family) south of Hayden, established in 1895
• Hitchens Overlook Ranch near Milner, established in 1886
• Zehner Ranch near Hayden, established in 1901
• Soash Ranch near Steamboat Springs, dating from 1904
• Mountain View Ranch, established in 1907
• Stanko Ranch, Steamboat Springs, established in 1907
• Perry Ranch near Toponas, established in 1911
• Brown Ranch just south of Clark, established in 1915 (visible from County Road 129)
• Hogue Ranch, established in 1917
• Redmond Ranch near the Flat Tops, established in 1917
Frank Squire acquired the coveted Three Quarter Circles brand in 1919, two years after acquiring the ranch. Frank’s father emigrated from Milton Abbot in County Devon, England, and homesteaded north of Hayden in 1893. In 1975, Squire’s grandson, Michael Hogue and his wife Maureen took over the ranch from Mike’s mother, Margaret Squire Hogue. The Hogues raise Registered Red Angus cattle and produce hay and small grains on their 1,500 acres. In 2002, the family opened the Three Quarter Circles Sporting Clays Ranch shooting range.
The Crags Ranch
The Crags Ranch is about 20 miles south of Hayden on the East Williams Fork River. It has been in existence since 1895 when Leon H. Green came from Sterling and homesteaded. Jerry Green, great grandson of Leon Green, and his mother, Mabel Green, were in partnership running approximately 250 cow-calf pairs of cross bred and registered Black Angus. Currently, the ranch consists of 1,906 acres, which produce irrigated and dry land hay. The ranch has been in the family now for four generations, and Judy Green, Jerry’s wife, now runs the ranch after Jerry’s passing.
The Hitchens Ranch
In 1884, James Hitchens came to America from England wanting to start a new life. In about 1886, James and his two brothers came to Routt County and bought a ranch. The Hitchens Ranch, now known as the Overlook Ranch, is about 10 miles west of Steamboat Springs on U.S. Highway 40 or one mile east of Milner. The ranch consists of about 1,800 acres and has been passed down for four generations with the fifth generation ready. Traditionally, the ranch was used to grow dryland wheat, barley and oats, while raising about 100-plus pairs of cows and calves. Diane Holly, the great-granddaughter of James Hitchens, has placed the property into a limited family partnership. The family also uses the ranch for tourism by offering horseback riding, cattle drives, team penning and pheasant hunting.
The Summer Ranch
Located about eight miles south of Steamboat Springs on Routt County Road 14 in the ghost town of Sidney, the Summer Ranch was started by John Summer in 1889. At that time, he bought 320 acres and prospered with hard work, raising cattle and producing oats, barley, wheat and potatoes. The ranch eventually consisted of 438 acres and produced hay and grass. The Summer family raised strait Hereford cattle until around 1963, when they started crossbreeding Herford and Angus.
When third generation rancher Vernon Summer took over in 1948, he produced hay and grass, as well as Herford and Angus cattle. Summer was a leading example of land and soil conservation in the valley. Since Vernon’s passing, the Summer ranch is currently owned by a ranching family who shares the Summer family’s passion for agriculture.
If you own a 100-year Routt County ranch and would like your heritage to be honored, contact History Colorado at HistoryColorado.org/Centennial-Farms-Ranches.
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