November marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Marie Scott, regarded by her ranching colleagues and those who knew of her as "a legend in her own time." Scott amassed land holdings of over 100,000 acres that extended into Utah and include what is now the Double R Ranch, owned by Ralph and Rickie Lauren.
"It is fitting that we should honor members of a family that contributed to the pioneering ranching community of Ouray County from the late 1880s and up until 1979, when Loraine and Marie both passed on, leaving no family to carry on the family ranching tradition," said Ginny Harrington, curator of the Ouray County museum and a direct descendant of ranching pioneers Adelia Mariah Smith Browner (the Smith Ranch), who settled into Colona in 1879.
The reception and program including slide show, with refreshments offered, will be held on Nov. 10 from 7-9 p.m. focusing on the life and times of Marie and her sister Josie. The sisters were known for their generosity and left a lasting impression on our community, according to Harrington.
"Marie, the last to pass on, left her remaining estate to 12 friends, colleagues and cowhands that had touched her life," said Harrington. The public is invited free of charge though donations benefiting the historical society will be accepted.
An extensive exhibition of family albums, news clippings and family artifacts will be displayed at both museum sites. "Local ladies in the area are working on a history quilt, to be unveiled at the upcoming events," Harrington added.
On Sunday, Nov. 14, the Ridgway Public Library will host a "Circle of Friends Storytelling" from 2-5 p.m., also free of charge. The museum is asking those who have memories of the Scott sisters and family to share their stories.
A Centennial Ranch Holiday Tour hosted by the Historical Society and ranch owners Joan and Vince Kontny is slated for Dec. 4 and Dec. 5, Saturday and Sunday, from 2-5 p.m. That event will be take place at the Centennial Ranch near Colona at what was originally called the Smith Brothers Ranch. It is now called Centennial Ranch in honor of the Smith family's one hundred-plus years of ownership. The Kontnys make their home at the Dashwood House, the ranch headquarters along Hwy. 550 near Colona. The ranch can be identified by the overhead gate and accompanying sign for the Centennial Ranch & Double Shoe Cattle Company. Guests are asked to turn in and park by the barn.
Harrington said the tour includes copies of the recently published book A Heritage in Iron, which relates the history of the Centennial Ranch and the Last Dollar Ranch on Hastings Mesa. Author Rafael Routson celebrates the rich heritage, legacy, restoration, and preservation of two local ranches. The richly illustrated volume contains stunning images of meticulously fashioned latches, hinges, pulleys and other hardware, as well as ranch buildings and homes.
"This book helps restore my faith in mankind for the tremendous efforts and vision expended by the Kontnys to preserve the two ranches in perpetuity in a conservation easment," said Harrington. Proceeds from the book's sale benefit the Ouray County Historical Society. Also available for purchase will be Ranching History of Ouray County, Volume I, and pre-sales of the newly revamped Ridgway Community Pride Cookbook, which should be published by Dec. 11.
Ranching History, funded in part by a grant from Ralph and Rickie Lauren, contains histories on the Morris, Stealey, Lee, Armlin, Kettle, Coon, Porter, Barrett, Couchman, Edith Lowery, Esther Lewis, Israel, Baumbardner and Reddick ranching families. Between 2002 and 2004, committee members traveled to New York, California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and thousands of miles around Colorado to interview former ranchers and their descendants. During their travels, so many artifacts, including wagons, balers, harnesses, saddles, and doodlebugs, were offered to the museum that the museum is planning to secure land for a site to establish an Ouray County Ranching History Museum in Ridgway.
For information, call the Ouray County Historical Museum at 325-4576.