Welcome to Rock Ledge Ranch

Last week’s post featured a picture of one of the former tuberculosis huts, which was re-fashioned into the entrance booth for the Rock Ledge Ranch. It inspired me to re-visit my photo archive with copious images of what is another one of my favorite go-to places. This special site is now owned by the city of Colorado Springs, and operated as a historical park. Assorted buildings, some of them original, some reconstructed, commemorate and celebrate different eras of human land use. During special living history events throughout the year, volunteers clad in period costumes and equipped with corresponding tools and gadgets bring the olden days to life by demonstrating what it might have looked like for previous generations.

Mein Blogbeitrag vergangene Woche enthielt das Bild einer ehemaligen Tuberkulosehütte, die zur Eingangsbude für die Rock Ledge Ranch umgestaltet wurde. Es inspirierte mich dazu, mein Photoarchiv durchzuschauen, das zahlreiche Ansichten eines weiteren Lieblingsortes enthält. Dieser besondere Fleck befindet sich heutzutage im Besitz von Colorado Springs und wird als historischer Park betrieben. Allerlei Gebäude, von denen einige originell und andere rekonstruiert sind, erinnern an verschiedene Epochen der Landnutzung. Während spezieller Veranstaltungen, bei denen Freiwillige traditionelle Kleidung tragen und den Gebrauch alter Werkzeuge und Maschinen demonstrieren, werden die Zeiten und Bräuche früherer Generationen wieder zum Leben erweckt.

The open shelter exemplifies the period when American Indians, who had called this region home for millenia, exchanged goods with newly arrived trappers and traders. This was followed by the era of homesteaders. We know that a Mr. Galloway lived in a log cabin on the grounds in the 1860s. After the Chambers family purchased his homestead claim in 1874, they built a handsome stone structure and christened their possession Rock Ledge Ranch, as it was perched on the verge of the iconic rock formations of Garden of the Gods. The Chambers became successful farmers and ranchers and were renowned for their orchards and boarding house. General Palmer, founding father of Colorado Springs, purchased their land at the beginning of the 20th century. To welcome his sister-in-law and her husband, who had resided in Cape Town for a number of years, he commissioned well-known local architect Thomas MacLaren to build the elegant Orchard House in the in the Cape Dutch style representative of the Cape of Good Hope. A smithy, workshop, barn, carriage house, and general store round out the structures.

Der offene Unterstand erinnert an die Jahre, in denen die Indianer, die diese Gegend jahrtausendeleang ihr eigen genannt hatten, mit den neuangekommenen Trappern und Händlern Waren austauschten. Diesen folgten die ersten Siedler, und es ist bekannt, daß ein Herr Galloway hier in den 1860er Jahren in einer Holzhütte lebte. Nachdem die Familie Chambers 1874 sein Land erwarb, baute sie ein schmuckes Haus aus Stein und taufte ihren Besitz Rock Ledge Ranch, weil er an die bekannten Felsformationen des Garden of the Gods angrenzte. Die Chambers wurden zu erfolgreichen Farmern und Ranchern, und waren für ihre Obstbäume und Fremdenpension bekannt. Der Gründer von Colorado Springs, General Palmer, erstand Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts das Grundstück und beauftragte den angesehenen Architekten Thomas MacLaren, ein elegantes Gebäude in einem für Südafrika typischen Stil zu errichten. Dieses Orchard House bot er seiner Schwägerin und ihrem Mann, die einige Jahre in Südafrika verbracht hatten, als Heim an. Außer diesen Bauten gibt es noch eine Schmiede, eine Werkstätte, eine Scheune, ein Kutschenhaus sowie einen Krämerladen.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover cursor over it .

Zum Vergrößern, das Bild bitte anklicken. Um den Titel zu lesen, mit der Maus darüber schweben.

The entrance booth is in use only during those five or six special annual occasions that draw large crowds of visitors. On four days during the summer months, the general store sells ticket for those interested in touring the interior of the former residences. But the park itself is open and free to anyone all year long. Despite its proximity to often-overrun Garden of the Gods, Rock Ledge Ranch itself remains a destination where one can be alone with plentiful wildlife as well as with a number of tame critters. To someone, who still dreams of being a farm girl, the latter serve as additional magnets. Among the occasional pigs and the always-present chickens, sheep, and horses, my favorite is 10-year-old Pumpkin, the Jersey cow. According to her caretaker, who daily cleans the stables and replenishes the animals’ provisions, she might live another two decades. To see her sweet face and long eyelashes and to observe her and her fellow denizens are some of the reasons why I direct my steps to Rock Ledge Ranch time and again.

Die Eingangsbude wird nur an fünf oder sechs besonderen Anlässen im Jahr genutzt, die große Menschenmassen anziehen. An vier Wochentagen während der Sommermonate kann man Eintrittskarten in dem kleinen Laden erwerben, um die Innenräume der ehemaligen Wohnstätten zu besichtigen. Doch der Park an sich ist das ganze Jahr lang offen, und umsonst zu genießen. Trotz seiner Nähe zu dem oft überlaufenen Garden of the Gods ist es noch möglich, auf der Rock Ledge Ranch mit allerlei wild lebenden und zahmen Tieren alleine zu sein. Für eine, die noch immer davon träumt, auf einem Bauernhof zu leben, ist das ein zusätzlicher Magnet. Unter den gelegentlichen Schweinen und den stets präsenten Hühnern, Schafen und Pferden ist die zehnjährige Jerseykuh „Pumpkin“ (Kürbis) meine besondere Favoritin. Laut ihrem Pfleger, der täglich die Ställe ausmistet und die Tiere füttert, dürfte sie noch zwei weitere Jahrzehnte leben. Um ihr liebliches Antlitz samt langen Wimpern zu erblicken, und um ihr und ihren Mitgeschöpfen zuzuschauen, zählt zu den Gründen, warum ich immer wieder meine Schritte zur Rock Ledge Ranch lenke.

Rock Ledge Ranch

Today I will add to the lore about General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. Based on numerous testimonies, he was a generous man. Only a few years after his marriage to Mary Lincoln “Queen” Mellen, his father-in-law died. Mr. Mellen had married Queen’s aunt, following the premature death of her mother when the girl was only four, which resulted in the gradual addition of seven half-siblings to Queen’s kin. After the patriarch’s passing, the General basically adopted the extended Mellen Clan, and they moved in at the Palmers’ home at Glen Eyrie for a period of time. William Palmer supported his relatives, even after most decided to live in England, and he continued to do so after Queen’s early demise at age 44.

Orchard House, frontal view

Orchard House, frontal view

During a stroll through Rock Ledge Ranch, adjacent to gorgeous Garden of the Gods, the stately Orchard House reminded me of the convoluted Palmer-Mellen family saga, and of the General’s character. He had purchased Rock Ledge Ranch, a former homestead, circa 1900 from the Chambers family. After one of Queen’s half-sisters, Charlotte (Lottie), went through a scandalous divorce and remarriage to the noted British zoologist William Lutley Sclater, the couple established residence in Cape Town, where he became curator at the South African Museum, until his resignation in 1906 when he and Lottie accepted the General’s invitation to relocate to Colorado Springs. Not content with securing his relation a teaching position at Colorado College, Palmer commissioned noted local architect, Thomas MacLaren, to build the pair their own domicile, Orchard House, in the Cape Dutch style of their former dwelling near the Cape of Good Hope — kindness and thoughtfulness taken to a high level.

Orchard House, back view

Orchard House, back view

The Sclaters’ time in the shadow of Pikes Peak coincided with General Palmer’s final chapters of life, following his horse-riding accident and ensuing near-quadriplegia. This did not prevent him from leading a vibrant life and Lottie was a great help and comfort to him for over two-and-a-half years, until his death in 1909, when the Sclaters returned to England.

Chambers House

Chambers House

Opportunities to explore Rock Ledge Ranch, now a living history farm and museum, abound. Multiple festivals throughout the year afford entrance into the former occupants’ residences, and glimpses into their lives. Mr. Sclater was an impassioned ornithologist. Because I share his fascination with feathered friends, an earlier visit to his office, and his collection of stuffed birds, left a lasting impression. At that point, I was not aware of his renowned two volume A History of the Birds of Colorado, published after he left the state. I would like to take a look at it, and an occasion will present itself soon. What I do recall are the delicious aroma and taste of Christmas cookies baked and served in the kitchen of the Orchard House during my last tour. As it happens, the annual holiday celebration will take place this coming Saturday, December 17, 2016, from 4 till 8 PM. For further details, please follow the link to the website here.

Click here for the German version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/rock-ledge-ranch/