THE SCATES RANCH AND MAGNOLIA ROAD
Figure 1: Edith in the Upper Meadow
History of this Project....................................................................................................................
Chapter 1 Converging in Colorado: Wings and Scates............................................................
C. P. Wing (Granddad)..............................................................................................................
Scates Family History................................................................................................................
Chapter 2 Childhood and Beyond...............................................................................................
Edith Rose and Dick Sherman....................................................................................................
Guests on the Ranch..................................................................................................................
Edith’s School Days...................................................................................................................
Pine Glade School............................................................................................................
Mount Saint Gertrude’s Academy.................................................................................
On to Emily Griffith’s Opportunity School....................................................................
Edith’s Work away from the Ranch..........................................................................................
Why Edith Never Married........................................................................................................
Chapter 3 Ranch on the Big Hill..............................................................................................
Chapter 4 Neighbors and Friends in the Early Days..............................................................
Hetzers, Hendricks, and Dr. Bills..............................................................................................
The Giggey Family...................................................................................................................
The Betasso Family..................................................................................................................
Chapter 5 Family’s Work On and Off the Ranch....................................................................
Getting Electric Lights and the Radio........................................................................................
More Ranch Responsibilities....................................................................................................
Working in the Mines...............................................................................................................
Chapter 6 Scates’ Cattle Ranching..........................................................................................
Chapter 7 Getting Around the Magnolia Road Area..............................................................
Magnolia Town and School......................................................................................................
Getting to Town.......................................................................................................................
Horses at the Ranch.................................................................................................................
Getting the Mail.......................................................................................................................
Getting the Family’s New Car..................................................................................................
Chapter 8 Mountain Fun...........................................................................................................
Dances and Plays.....................................................................................................................
Fishing, Hunting, and More Fun................................................................................................
Appreciation of the Natural World...........................................................................................
Chapter 9 Community...............................................................................................................
Membership in Organizations...................................................................................................
Spiritual Life and Picnics..........................................................................................................
Chapter 10 Conclusion............................................................................................................
The attic of the Scates’ Ranch home harbored many family photos, taken through the decades, and Edith’s collection of color slides from 1959 to 1973. Marianne Stilson had the idea that she, and others, would be interested in learning more about those pictures and about life on the Scates’ Ranch. Marianne enlisted Marie Mozden, a long-time friend of Edith and Dick Scates, to help Edith locate the slides, so the history only Edith could provide would not be lost.
Having those slides in hand, Marianne told neighbors, Bonnie Sundance and then Jan Kuepper, of her wish to create a presentation of Edith’s pictures, with Edith as narrator. In January 1999, the three began meeting to review the slides and consider the possibility of creating a slide show, a video presentation, or a published booklet.
They arranged to go to Edith’s home on the evening of April 19, 1999, carrying a potluck supper and equipment to show the slides and to record Edith’s comments. Although shy about being recorded that first evening, Edith joyously welcomed Marianne, Bonnie, and Jan at her kitchen door (Figure 2: Marianne, Edith, Jan, and Bonnie). After supper, the group gathered around her in the living room. George Giggey stopped by daily to give Edith “her meds” and he stayed on to view the slides.
Edith quickly adapted to the plans to show her slides. She was patient as she was bombarded with question after question about her life and the Scates’ Ranch.That was the first of many similar gatherings in which the ninety to ninety-three-year-old Edith Scates always showed wondrous good spirit and did her best to jog her memory as accurately as she could.
Julie Harris, a long-time friend of Edith’s, with a strong interest in the history of the Scates’ Ranch, joined the group in July 1999 (Figure 3: Edith, Marianne, Julie, and Jan). Julie was Edith’s primary caregiver during the last year of Edith’s life. During that time, Edith shared personal recollections with Julie. This additional information enhanced the project.
Marianne,` Julie, and Jan proceeded to write out all of Edith’s words after having the audiotapes transferred to CDs. Transcriptions of the CDs facilitated organization of the material into thirty-six topics, using “cut and paste.”
In 2002, Julia Chase (a near neighbor) became an active worker in the project. Julia’s experience researching land title and historic records of Boulder County was of great value. Her enthusiasm spearheaded the effort to conclude the project in the summer of 2003.
In addition to the extensive interviews with Edith, the group made substantial use of other transcribed comments Edith and her brother, Dick, made during tours of the area in 1982 and 1984. It was Barbara Poppe, Margaret McGinnis-Stockton, and Linda Armour who established the routes and audiotaped their comments. The five traveled the entire length of Magnolia Road, from Peak-to-Peak Highway to Boulder Canyon. Those transcripts provided us with the only record of Dick Scates’ exact comments, and they were used extensively in this booklet.
The project members, calling themselves the Edith Scates Memoirs Group, originally planned that their end result would be a slide show narrated by Edith.As their innumerable interviews and work sessions progressed ( Figure 4: Marianne, Jan, and Julia), they began to envision a video program as their creation to be shared. Not having the required funds or know-how for video work, they came to the conclusion that a tangible booklet, to be owned and held, would be the best way to share the history they recorded. This is that booklet.
Figure 2: Marianne, Edith, Jan, and Bonnie
Figure 3: Edith, Marianne, Julie, and Jan
Figure 4: Marianne, Jan, and Julia
Many people were kind and helpful to us as we planned and completed The Scates’ Ranch and Magnolia Road. We would like to say a special “thank you” for the following contributions:
· PUMA (Preserve Unique Magnolia Association) provided full financial support for the printing of this booklet. Carli Zug also contributed financially to the project expenses.
Storytelling offers an important dimension to the understanding of the past. Years ago, it was the old ones who were our storytellers, and it was through their storytelling that wisdom, history, values, and lessons were passed along. They made it a point to remember as many details and events as possible. Like the old ones, Edith’s stories (as we have documented them) will pass along insights and details about the Magnolia area, the people who were part of the drama, and the events that directed their lives.
For us, the members of the Edith Scates Memoirs Group, writing this booklet has been a labor of love. Here, we would like to share some of our memories of Edith.
Edith was a kind, ethical, humble, capable, resolute, and wise woman. Here’s one example of advice she shared: “Any fool will bring a coat when it’s cloudy. A wise man will bring one when the sun is shining.”
Gathering at Edith’s for supper was always pleasant. We, the memoirs group, will not forget how happily she welcomed us. When it was time to serve dessert, she once commented, “You should always eat dessert first. No one wants to skip dessert. So, they always eat it no matter how full they are. Then, one ends up with too full a stomach. If you eat dessert first, that won’t happen.” Edith’s favorite dessert was lemon meringue pie. As we planned a gathering for her ninety-first birthday, we asked her what kind of birthday cake she’d like. She thought a bit, and replied, “I really like lemon meringue pie, not too sweet.” For her last two birthdays, we served her lemon meringue pie. In fact, it was the last food Edith ate before she passed away.
We will remember her laughter. One of her slides showed a cowboy lying in the grass, eyes closed, his cowboy hat blocking out the sun, and beer cans littered around him. She gave a hardy laugh recalling how the men in the group placed the cans around the victim while he was napping. She also chuckled as she told us, “On Saturdays, they would take their baths, with the cleanest ones going in first. Then, when the dirtiest ones came along; well, they had to go in last.”
She found great joy watching the rabbits, birds, and squirrels on her porch. Edith even named an especially voracious squirrel “Fatso.” Often, she giggled in delight, as a young child would.
Edith had a distinct way of story telling. She often began, “Well, now, let’s see . . .” drawing the words out. We remember how she would tell tragic stories, such as the ones about Shannon Looney being struck by lightning; the dead dog tied to the tree; and the murder of her good friend, Emily Griffith. Edith would speak quietly and slowly. We would be hanging onto every word. Then, she would suddenly come out with the shocking ending. She was a fine storyteller.
The memoirs group was entertained and inspired by the knowledge and experiences Edith carried with her. She cared deeply about the ranch land — it’s past, present, and future. Edith always welcomed neighbors and friends to the ranch. Many of those neighbors live on the land that was once part of the Scates’ Ranch. This has been her story of living, thriving, and surviving there during the twentieth century.
At sunset one day, the memoirs group drove with Edith to “the back meadow” and looked at the ranch with Mount Thorodin in the distance. Sitting quietly in the car, with the sky aglow and peace all around us, we remarked how this was a little piece of Heaven on earth.
When her mother (Eva Scates) became gravely ill, Edith cared for her, taking her to Denver for medical treatments. Eva died in 1969, and her last words to Edith were “thank you for taking such good care of me.” Edith made this observation of her mother’s last days: “She was able to be here, where her home was. Her heart was in this land, and she had spent her life on Magnolia Road.” This was also true of Edith’s own life.
Figure 5: 1880s Homestead (foreground) and 1920s House (background)
In 1874, Charles Phialandrews (C. P.) Wing, Edith Scates’ maternal granddad (Figure 6: Scates and Wing Family Tree), made his way on foot from Wyoming to the mining towns in the Colorado Territory. A sawyer by trade, he hoped to find a market for timber and lumber at the mines. C. P. met and married Adeline Hurley, a miner’s daughter from Central City. They had nine children. In 1887, their second child, Eva May, was born. They moved to the Magnolia area when Eva May was 6 months old. Eva’s younger siblings were born in a shack next to one of C. P.’s sawmills (Figure 7: Magnolia Road and Surroundings).
Dick Scates described it this way, “Wherever there was water and a grove of trees, there was a sawmill. My granddad ran a sawmill with a little steam boiler and engine over two gulches [at Kellogg’s].” It was better to move the sawmill where the timber was, so you could skid [to haul by dragging] it right into the mill. “The sawmills were temporary shacks. They knew they wouldn’t be there long. The houses were made just the same. Anyway, they’d just throw up a frame and nail some sides up and freeze all winter. The family was right there, all year round.”
C. P. bought a 160-acre homestead, with a house, located near the Front Range Trails. The homestead was on both sides of Magnolia Road. Dick recalled, “East of there was the Pine Glade schoolhouse and the teacher’s house. You can still see some of the schoolhouse foundation.” Dick described another house, “Granddad and Mother’s family lived down at the old sawmill down across the gulch (Kellogg’s place). There’s nothing left of it now. The kids had to work in the timber business long before they should have, the boys especially. Granddad didn’t have any education and he didn’t see any use of the kids spending time in school.”
A great deal of the work at the sawmills depended on the help of C. P.’s family members. Edith recalled, “I remember Granddad ran a sawmill a ways from my place. He had an awful bad temper. His outburst of temper and sometimes his treatment, especially of the boys, I felt was quite unreasonable. If the boys saw him coming, they’d go to avoid him. Like people who do have bad temper, they don’t use much reason. They just flare up. I know later in life how much he regretted that. He said, ‘I could have been such a pal to my boys’.”
As early as 1890, C. P. was operating one of the sawmills at the junction of the present County Road 68 and Aspen Meadows Road. Unlike agriculture, sawmills proved to be the right choice at the right time. Well into the 1940s, the mining industry needed lumber, mine props, and railroad ties. C. P. installed a telephone at his sawmill located near the Kikionga Mine. Dick Scates explained, “Granddad had a sawmill in the next gulch above Marie’s [Mozden]. He had a telephone. But, of course, they ran the line from tree to tree. They didn’t set poles or anything. My granddad had it there to take orders for the sawmill. I guess Dad could of had one, but he didn’t want it for fifty cents a month.”
The sawmill business presented enormous challenges. Nowhere were there easy guidelines to follow. C. P.’s philosophy was to always endure tough times, be self-reliant, and to depend on no one outside the family. As Wallace Stegner wrote in Wolf Willow, “ . . . [H]e had to contain within himself every strength and every skill.”
Figure 7: Magnolia Road and Surroundings
The first of the Scates family to move to Colorado was Edith and Dick’s father, Sherman William Scates. He was born in the early 1870s to William and Miriam Scates (Figure 6: Scates and Wing Family Tree). William and Miriam homesteaded in eastern Kansas. While William was in the Civil War, he marched with General Sherman from Atlanta to the sea. That is why William and Miriam chose the name “Sherman” for their son. Sherman was only eight years old when his father died.
Edith recounted that her father did not go to school past the third or fourth grade, and he taught himself after that. When Sherman was about sixteen years old, he moved to the ranch on Magnolia Road to live with his Aunt Agnes and Uncle George Seal. Agnes was his mother’s sister. They lived in the homestead cabin that still stands on the ranch today.
Before Agnes and George were married, Agnes and her sister, Maggie, ran a boarding house in the town of Magnolia. George was a miner there. Agnes and George married in February 1889, and then moved to the ranch. However, George was away from the home about six days a week working in the mines. Agnes was pregnant and tired of “living alone,” so she sent money for her nephew, Sherman, to move to the ranch and help with the work. Edith remarked, “I don’t know how much good they thought a sixteen-year old boy could help [with the pregnancy]. [Sherman] must have come on the train, then probably walked the rest of the way.” He was a help with the chores around the homestead. Edith said that her father “worked in the mines some, but he was always much more interested in livestock.” Sherman eventually ran the ranch for his uncle.
In 1890, Sherman’s Aunt, Agnes Seal, died while giving birth to Agnes Coline Seal. When Agnes Coline was seven, her father died of pneumonia, and she inherited the ranch property. Sherman, who was already running the ranch, was appointed as her executive guardian. However, Agnes Coline was raised in Boulder by her Aunt, Maggie McClure.
Sherman Scates also worked for C. P. Wing cutting cordwood for mills and wood stoves. When one of C. P.’s sons (Gus) caught pneumonia from playing in the wet sawdust, C. P. asked Sherman to fetch Dr. Bochman in Rollinsville. Sherman brought the doctor to the Wing’s house, and that is when he met Eva May, one of C. P.’s daughters.
Eva May Wing was born September 14, 1887. Edith said that her mother went to school until about the fifth grade. Eva had one older sister, Dora, and seven younger siblings. Dick recalled, “They [the Wings] had a whole slough of kids and Grandma wasn’t very well, so Mom had to stay home and help with the family.” Eva brought up her younger siblings.
C. P. encouraged the match between Sherman and his daughter, Eva, even though Sherman was eighteen years older than she. Edith figured that C. P. thought that a chance for his daughter to marry a well-to-do rancher was probably better than her life at home. Sherman and Eva were married in Central City by a justice of the peace on January 17, 1906.
Eva was twenty when Edith Rose was born in 1907. Richard was born in 1909. Both children were delivered on the Scates’ Ranch in the small homestead house where the Scates family lived.
Edith Rose Scates was born November 11, 1907, in the old homestead house (Figure 8: Homestead House). Dr. Bochman, from Rollinsville could not be reached in time for Edith’s birth. Therefore, Edith’s parents managed the delivery. Not having been experienced in delivering a baby, Edith’s father tugged at her little body. For the rest of Edith’s life, one hip rose higher than the other. She referred to her hip trouble as a birth defect. Her Grandmother Wing helped name her Edith Rose, because she especially liked the name “Rose.” Richard Sherman Scates was born two years and ten days after Edith. A woman from Nederland, Mrs. Sloughenhoff, cared for Edith while Dick was born.
Edith described herself as “timid and well-behaved.” She remembered clearly that “Dad was pretty severe with discipline if a youngster misbehaved.” Edith especially liked to play on the flat rock, now in the backyard of an adjacent house, because she so enjoyed the beautiful view from there. Leisure time, off somewhere, was probably very special to Edith, because she had a lot of chores and responsibilities, even when she was a little girl.
Fondly, Edith spoke of the family dog, Bootsie. “He wasn’t a very good cow dog, but our Bootsie was the very best pal you ever had. Yes, he seemed intelligent, and he loved us very much, but as far as driving stock or anything, he never seemed to catch on. He would always go for the head, and a stock dog has to go behind to drive because if he goes for the head, he just turns them away and is more trouble than he is good. He lived to be about thirteen, and then the coyotes killed him, or he may have lived longer.” The family also had a blue heeler, a breed well known for herding skills.
Reminiscing about her young aunt and their bedtime stories, Edith said, “Blanche was my Aunt, my mother’s youngest sister. She was just five years older than I was. Blanche lived with us on the ranch. Blanche and I made ‘a pretty good team for play’.” She continued, “Almost every night in the winter, Blanche, Dick, and I would go to bed and get under the warm covers, and Blanche would read to us. We liked to hear her read Zane Grey, Jack London, and magazines with romance stories.” Edith’s mother read The Bible at home.
As young teenagers, Edith shared many adventures with her Pine Glade School friend, Lorraine Schlick. “We each had a horse, and we’d go out a lot. We went up above Eldora, up around Hessie, way up toward the Snow Range. We took long rides over on Mount Thorodin too. I remember, once Lorraine baked a gooseberry pie out of wild gooseberries. Oh, so sour. Oo-oo-oo! We went over to Mount Thorodin, up toward where the fire watch used to be, and she carried that pie on horseback, so we could have gooseberry pie!”
When asked if her parents worried about her when she went out riding, Edith replied, “Oh, I don’t think they minded. Unless the horse fell, or something like that, there wasn’t much danger. There were lots of badger holes, and you had to be careful when you were riding, because if the horse steps in one of those, he could easily break his leg. So, we had to watch.”
Figure 8: Homestead House
Figure 9 Eva, Edith, and Dick
It is clear that when family or friends needed a place to live, the Scates family opened their home. Dick summarized it by saying; “we had a lot of people in this house at times.” Edith remembered how her mother “just loved to take care of babies.” Eva would bring in any kids who were neglected. It was the joy of her life to give a home or attention to a youngster. Edith said of her father, “He always welcomed them, and he never resented [Eva] bringing in babies and children.”
Eva’s youngest sister, Blanche, was only five years older than Edith. Edith and Blanche were very much like sisters. Edith recalled that Blanche “stayed at the ranch a good deal . . . then, later she married and went to Utah.” Blanche died when her baby daughter, Myrtle, was only nine days old. Dick recalled, “When Myrtle was about eighteen months old, she came to live with us. We raised her up until she was married. Myrtle’s older brother and sister, Robert and Irene, also lived with us for a time. Irene died when she was about eight, from measles which affected her heart.”
Dick and Edith both gave accounts of several of their long-term family “guests.” Their mother’s eldest sister, Dora Wing Turner, had twin boys, Delbert and Albert, who were born around 1904. The twins “stayed with us for a couple of years, while their mother was leaving her husband. They were about fourteen when they came to live with us. They had their work to do, and they were very good to us. They had clashing personalities, and would nearly kill each other, but they were very considerate to us.”
Dick and Edith also told about friends who stayed with the Scates. Some, like George Giggey, remained especially close to the family. Dick told it this way: “After George Giggey’s mother died, he lived here when he wasn’t working somewhere else. He lived here from sixteen until he got married. We kind of took care of him. George was a heavy equipment operator from the beginning.”
Edith said people came to visit her family more than they went to visit others. “My father’s people lived in Missouri, and we did go back there a time or two to visit, but usually, because the weather is so miserable back there . . . so hot, so they came here for the summer. We used to have an Aunt who’d come and stay all summer: Aunt Louise. Aunt Agnes and her daughter came to visit us most every year too.” Edith told of visiting back and forth with Marjorie, who “lived down on the Lower Place for a long, long time, and then she married and went to California.” Edith missed her a lot.
Figure 10: Pine Glade Schoolhouse (Illustration by Bill Border)
Before Edith was of school age, the children in her area attended a little schoolhouse on the Giggey Ranch. During 1912 and 1913, a new school was built to serve the Pine Glade-Pinecliffe area. Records show that the builder, a Mr. Allensby, was paid $106 for his work on the school. It was erected on a site which is now near the entrance to the Front Range Trails (also known locally as the Boy Scout Trails). Edith’s maternal grandparents, C. P. and Adeline Wing, had donated land for the new school. The lumber to construct it came from the Wings’ sawmill, just down the hill from the school site. This 1913 school served the area for many years before it was closed. Around 1970, it was moved to the grounds of the Nederland Community Center, not far from the place where the larger, white, old Magnolia School, had been set down earlier. Now, both schools are still standing near the Community Center. The old Magnolia School is used for art classes. The old Pine Glade School is now a private home.(Illustration by Bill Border)
In 1913, Edith went off to first grade at the new one-room, “two window,” school (Figure 10: Pine Glade Schoolhouse). She was five years old, going on six, when she began trekking the two miles to school. That first year, Miss Mae Fullmer was the teacher. She was paid $50 a month. The school board was responsible for providing housing for the “schoolmarm.” Edith told it this way: “Our teachers had to board around with different parents. Later they built the teacherage, which was such a good thing, ‘cause then the teacher could have some independence.” In 1925, the Pine Glade School teacher’s cottage was built just several yards west of the school. “It was a little, brown-shingled teacherage with two rooms.”
One can still visit the original school site and even trace the imprint of a small woman’s high-heeled boot on the steps that lead to the school door. As Edith tells it, that shoe print belonged to Vera Shipman. Vera had a cabin just southwest of the school, and some teachers boarded with her because of her cabin’s being so close to the school.
Edith shared her memories about hauling spring water up to the school: “The spring was downhill from the school. I don’t know why they always built houses, and such, so that you always had to carry the water uphill! The teacher had to haul the water. We had a bucket of drinking water at school. Everybody drank out of the same dipper. Then later, we got drinking glasses, so each person had their own glass.”
Edith remembered several of her teachers. One was Miss Mamie Latronica, who Edith thought might have been from Louisville. Pauline Yackey was another teacher, and she married Edith’s uncle, Jerome Wing. Another Pine Glade teacher, Vera Thomas, married Edith’s younger uncle, William Jennings Bryant Wing (Figure 6: Scates and Wing Family Tree).
Edith chuckled, saying, “Teachers usually married some local boys.”
Inside the one-room schoolhouse, “There was a blackboard at the front of the schoolroom that we did a lot of figures on.” At their desks, the children wrote on 8 x 10 inch slates, with chalk. “Usually there were two children to each desk. We had those long desks . . . two of us in one seat. That was a good place to take a noon nap, because you could stretch out on the seat. Must have been awful hard, but then, we’d do it.” There was a box woodstove in the middle of the room. Sometimes children would bring vegetables from home and add them to the pot of hot water on the stove. The result: hot soup for their lunch, to go with whatever food each had brought from home.”
There was no playground, so “we made our own entertainment. We’d play Andy Over, jump rope, climb on the rocks, and go strawberry hunting. My uncles used to take and haul things to Rollinsville. They would usually bring us a little sack of candy or something when they came by the school. That was a real treat.”
Edith and her schoolmates studied traditional subjects: reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, history, and geography. When asked about school subjects she liked, Edith replied, “Mostly, I liked all of it. ‘Course, I liked history and geography, especially geography . . . I loved geography! I wasn’t too good in math, but I got by.” Edith recalled that sometimes there was only one child in a grade. “I remember the bigger youngsters in the higher grades would take the little ones outside and teach them. They would really enjoy teaching the little children, and it was a good experience for them.”
The school year schedule was adapted to conditions in the rural, mountain area. “It was mostly a six month summer school [June through November]. The school put on a program a couple times a year. We’d recite poetry or make up a skit. We’d have a Christmas program, but we weren’t in school during Christmas, so we’d have a program right at the end of school.” “We didn’t go in winter because they didn’t keep the roads open, and having a winter school could have been very difficult. Magnolia Road wasn’t maintained until it was a mail route [around 1940]. Snow would build-up over the winter. At times, it was five or six feet in some places,” Edith remarked.
The friendships made at school were very important. “About the only time we had any kids to play with was when we were in school.” Edith looked forward to seeing Emory, Cecelia, and Lorraine Schlick, and Charlie, Fred, and Wilma (surnames not given).
Even as a little first grader, Edith walked to school, and two years later, her brother, Dick, walked with her. She described how they took a trail that went through the fields and woods. “When we finally came out onto the road, we walked the rest of the way on the road. It was a lot steeper then than it is now. It took about forty-five minutes to get to school. It’s two miles. If you were in a real good hurry and ran most of the way, you could make it in half an hour. Occasionally, we’d ride a horse, especially if there was snow. But then you had to take care of it — put it in the barn, feed it, and water it. So, I’d rather wallow in the snow than fool with the horse.” Today, one can look downhill and see the collapsed logs of the old horse barn, which belonged to the Wing family and was used by the school students when they rode horses to school.
The trek to school was tainted by some experiences young Edith endured. She related, “I was about six when it happened. It made it hard for me to walk to school.” She was recalling the death of a young man, Shannon Looney, who was killed by a lightning strike during a wild mountain storm. Dick remembered the event well too, “ . . . [B]ack in 1914, there were two fine young fellows, about seventeen or eighteen [years old] out walking . . . down by Gray’s place. A bad storm came up, and they got under the tall spruce trees. You can still see the lightning strike on one of the trees. It killed one of the fellows, and the other one fell out in the rain and was revived. He came up to our house. We didn’t have a telephone, so Dad, or one of our uncles, went down to where there was a telephone and called the coroner.”
Edith spoke further about the site of that terrible accident, “I was just a little kid when I came down there. Dad was down there. It was in summertime, and the flies were so bad. The coroner [only] had a spring wagon. He came up late that evening. I never told my parents how frightened - how scared I was, but I had to walk past there to get to school. It was the most terrible thing to have to walk up there, knowing that young man [had been killed] there.”
Edith told of another fright that made the walk to school difficult: “Dad had put strychnine [out] for coyotes. A dog ate some and died. My dad moved the dog over there, a little ways from the trail. How afraid I was to go to school! I screwed up my courage, and I made my brother go with me, and we took some wire and wired that dog to a tree . . . Of course, he was dead. I was very much intimidated about going to school.”
While these memories stood out clearly for Edith, most of her school memories were pleasant. One reward of going to school then, as today, is the opportunity to see friends. While she seized the chance to visit with someone other than her own family, Edith also greatly valued her education. She remarked on how fortunate she felt, and how very important it is, to get an education.
If a student wished, it was possible to continue at Pine Glade School, even through tenth grade. Edith explained, “When I finished the ninth grade at Pine Glade [School], then I went to Boulder and stayed with a very dear friend [Mary Dodd] and went to Mt. Saint Gertrude’s Academy.” Opening in 1892, the Academy at Mount Saint Gertrude’s, 970 Aurora Avenue, was Boulder’s first private school. It was the vision of a Catholic nun, sent to Colorado from Iowa. Sister Mary Theodore O’Connor was dying from tuberculosis. She stood upon that hill on Aurora Avenue with two friends, and they envisioned the school. According to its catalog, the school was founded on “fresh air and sunlight, wholesome and nutritious food, regular hours for rising and retiring, and an abundance of healthful recreation and outdoor exercise.” It was a Catholic school up on the hill on Aurora. It was taught mostly by Catholic nuns. However, they did have some other teachers who were not nuns, Edith explained. When asked about her studies, she mentioned math and literature and Latin. “I didn’t care much for that [Latin],” she exclaimed, cringing, “but I suppose it helped with my English.”
Edith shared her memories about her first experiences living away from home with us. “It was such a change! At the time, the only transportation we had was horses. I came home almost every weekend. Sometimes, it wasn’t so convenient.” After Dick purchased a Model-A Ford, it was easier for Edith to come home to the ranch on weekends (Figure 12: Dick and his Model-A Ford). To be sure, the weekends weren’t filled with frolicking and lounging about, for there was always work to be done on the ranch. Edith was eager to help, as she cared deeply for her family, especially her mother.
Concluding her talk of Mt. Saint Gertrude’s, Edith reported, “[I] didn’t stay there too long, maybe a year and a half. I was too homesick.” But, Edith Rose Scates did graduate from Mt. St. Gertrude’s. Her next stop was Denver.
Edith attended Emily Griffith’s Opportunity School at 1250 Welton in Denver after finishing at Mt. Saint Gertrude’s. “It was convenient, because you could go anytime, and you could take anything you wanted to. It wasn’t like a regular school where you had schedules. Emily Griffith’s office was right off the entrance. She wanted to see everybody who came in. She didn’t have a closed office, like so many principals did. It was one of the first adult educational institutions in the country. It was wonderful!”
“Emily Griffith had her home over there in Pinecliffe, and I was very well acquainted with her and the saddest thing about it was she befriended everyone, and she befriended this man. He had a fine personality and was very intelligent. I don’t know why, but he murdered Emily and her sister. He then drowned himself in the creek [South Boulder Creek]. He was here just a day or two before he did this and said he was going to teach us to play pinochle. His name was Fred Lundy, and he taught at the Opportunity School. It was a very big shock, not only
here, but in Denver where Emily Griffith taught.” When Edith was asked if she enjoyed recalling her memories, she replied, “Some more than others.”
Emily’s philosophy is reflected in this statement:
"I want to help establish a school where the clock will be
stopped from morning ‘til midnight. I want the age limit
for admission lifted and the classes so organized that a boy
or girl working in a bakery, store, laundry, or any kind of
shop, who had an hour or two to spare, may come to school,
study what he or she wants to learn to make life more useful.
The same rule goes for older folks, too. I know I will be
laughed at, but what of it? I already have a name for that
school. It is Opportunity."
Figure 11 Homestead Entry
Figure 12: Dick and his Model-A Ford
Figure 13: Edith as a Young Girl
Most of Edith’s work years were spent on the ranch, but she did work away at several paying jobs. While taking classes at the Opportunity School, she was employed at an office in Denver. There she “did all kinds of letters and brochures for companies and a lot of the assembling and the mailing.”
In her early twenties, Edith took a job in Golden, Colorado. She told us, “I worked at Coors’ Porcelain Plant in the office some but in the plant most of the time.” In the plant, she worked “on chemical-ware, like crucibles.” After they had been dipped in a liquid glaze, they were run through kilns and baked. Often, Edith was the person who wiped-off the bottoms of the crucibles, “so the acetylene torch fibers wouldn’t stick.”
With warmth she told of living with family friends, the Meadows, in Golden. “They were very dear friends all our life — real good friends.” At the Coor’s plant, Edith remembered, “some real good friends” were Edith Schmick, Virginia VanWinkle, and the man who worked next to her on the line.
“I worked at Coors’ Pottery in Golden for quite a number of years. Then after my father became ill, why, I went home to stay with Mom and Dick. Then I stayed there afterward — stayed home.”
After returning to the ranch, Edith sometimes worked at the food stand for ice skaters on South Boulder Creek at Pactolus. She reminisced that “Alberta Malgram cooked at the skating business,” and there she worked with Melba Winks and Wendell Winks. Melba cooked, and her husband, Wendell, did “janitor work.” Melba, Wendall, and “quite a few Negro families” lived at Lincoln Hills, mostly a summer community, near Pactolus.
Thinking of the food Melba cooked took Edith back to her first experience with pizza. It was “probably in the middle ‘40s the first pizza I ever ate. I don’t think I ever had another that was that good. It really impressed me. It was so, so good!”
She recalled that folks also skated on the creek at the Espy place near Rollinsville. The Espy Ice Company cut ice on the creek for the Denver market and for westbound railway refrigerator cars, carrying perishables over Corona Pass (before the Moffat Tunnel was constructed).
When asked why she never married, Edith said, “Well, it just didn’t seem like it was ever the right time, or the right place, something like that. It wasn’t right for me, or it wasn’t right for them. Either I was too much older than the man that was interested, or it just didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do.” Edith met some men in her life. She said “some [were] pretty serious, but either I decided not to, or they did. So, there was one or two [from around here], but mostly from where I worked [in Golden].”
In the late 1860s, William J. Southland resided on the property where the Scates’ Ranch is now located. Southland acquired the land by means of the Federal Government’s Homestead Act of 1862 by which farmers could acquire 160 acres of land after five years of continuous residence on the property (Figure 14: Evolution of the Ranch).
In 1871, Southland sold the homestead to Charles Leitzman, a pioneer blacksmith and wagon repairman from Blackhawk. Leitzman raised cattle on the property. By the end of the decade, Leitzman expanded his property holdings to 480 acres (Figure 14: Evolution of the Ranch). The property became known as the “ranch on the big hill.”1
George Seal bought the property from Leitzman. George and Agnes Seal moved to the ranch after they married in 1889. Around that time, Sherman Scates came to help his aunt and uncle run the cattle ranch. By 1890, the homestead consisted of one house, two barns, two stables, one outbuilding, one blacksmith shop, and an outhouse (Figure 16: Scates’ Ranch Layout). At that time, the land was mainly used for ranching with a small part dedicated to raising crops. With high meadows for the summer and low protected areas for the winter, the land was well suited for cattle.
In 1897, Agnes Coline Seal inherited the property when George Seal, her father, died. Sherman Scates became Agnes Coline Seal’s guardian, and he continued to operate the ranch. In 1915, Sherman finally purchased the 480-acre ranch from Agnes Coline Seal [Baldwin] for $3,000. Dick said of Agnes, “ . . . [O]ld Harry Baldwin got a hold of her and that was it. Then, she was an Iowa farmer the rest of her life.” Agnes and Harry Baldwin had a son, Ed Baldwin. Ed and his wife had two children: Mary Agnes Baldwin [Mulvahill], and a son, Curt Baldwin. The Baldwin family inherited the ranch after Edith’s death.
Edith described her father as a shrewd businessman. From 1915 through 1930, Sherman bought out the following homesteads until he had purchased over 2,000 acres (Figure 15: Scates Land Acquisition (to 2000 acres)):
Parcel 1 - 1915 - 480 acres purchased from Agnes Coline Seal;
Parcel 2 - 1918 - 160 acres originally homesteaded by Enos K. Baxter;
Parcel 3 - 1916 - 160 acres originally homesteaded by Elbridge Forsaith;
Parcel 4 - 1915 - 120 acres from George Seal;
Parcel 5 - 1919 - 160 acres from Charles and Addie Wing;
Parcel 6 - 1920 - 160 acres from David Wing;
Parcel 7 - 1920 - 160 acres from Derius & Sarah Titus;
Parcel 8 - 1930 - 175 acres in the area of Gross Reservoir from Katherine Allensby; and
Parcel 9 - 1898 - 480 acres acquired from Gilbert and Rebekah Fox (originally homesteaded by Daniel Matthewson and Mark Talley).
Edith described how her father was able to buy so much land. “He bought up homesteads. People just naturally starved out. They couldn’t make a living on that little. There’s not that much agricultural ground, and there’s not the market for crops. I remember when potatoes was quite a cash crop, but not back then.” She also recalled that homesteaders “had to do so much work. They had to plant crops and probably cut some timber. They had to prove that they wanted it for a home.”
Figure 14: Evolution of the Ranch
Figure 15: Scates Land Acquisition (to 2000 acres)
Edith also explained how her father made the money to make these purchases. “Father hauled potatoes and coal mine props to the mines near Louisville. He cut the timber to put in the mine for the shaft. He was [one of] the first to get a herd of cattle [in the area]. One time, he furnished beef for the [railroad workers] when they were building the Moffat Railroad. So, he hauled beef over to Rollinsville.”
In 1940, when Sherman Scates died, Eva, Edith, and Dick inherited the ranch property. In 1965, they sold all of the property to developers Charles Becker, Paul Wiesner and Gerald Burkhart, except for the 175 acres that remain as the ranch today (Figure 14: Evolution of the Ranch). Dick said that they sold off the land because of financial hardship and they also had difficulty obtaining grazing permits from the US. Forest Service. Edith said they sold off their cattle in the early 1970s because “my brother’s health got so it wasn’t easy for him to do these things.” He had respiratory difficulty due to smoking and from the hay dust.
After the death of Eva in 1969 and that of her brother in 1985, Edith lived on the property until she died in 2001. In the late 1990s, Edith transferred the property into a Trust. Edith also granted a Conservation Easement to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, which means the property will remain a ranch in perpetuity. A new owner is not allowed any new development, except a 4,000 square foot log-cabin caretaker residence at the back of the ranch. The purpose of the easement is to “preserve the ability of the Property to be agriculturally productive, including continuing farming and ranching activities . . . and to preserve the open space character, wildlife habitat, and scenic qualities of the Property.”
The National Trust designated the Scates’ Ranch as a “Centennial Farm” for Historic Preservation because it has been continuously associated with the Scates/Baldwin family from the 1870s to the present (Figure 17: Centennial Farm). The ranch is historically significant for its association with cattle ranching and the early settlement of southwest Boulder County. The buildings are architecturally significant for their pioneer log and wood frame construction, and because they are little changed from their historic appearance.1
The original 2-story homestead cabin built prior to 1880 is an excellent example of log structures of its time period. It is built of 14” square, hand hewn logs fastened with V saddle notch. The logs are chinked and daubed with a white, lime based mortar.1 Edith described the cabin: “Well, it had one quite large room. It was [used as] utility [for kitchen, eating and living], and [it had] only one bedroom. Upstairs, you had to stand up in the middle of the room because of the side of the room, and we had two bedrooms up there . . .” She described the upstairs as consisting of “two, kind of ‘lean-to’ bedrooms. There was really one main bedroom that could have two beds.”
Edith remarked, “When you go in, you can see where the step is worn-down, just three or four inches, from walking back and forth.” The steps that went upstairs were really worn down too. Edith remembered, “Later on, we built a kitchen onto the north [side of the cabin].” She described further, “Well, there was an old kitchen . . . where [Edith’s mother] did the cooking. It had one of those [wood-heated] ranges with the warming ovens and all.”
Figure 16: Scates’ Ranch Layout
Figure 17: Centennial Farm
Figure 18: Scates’ Ranch as seen from Magnolia Road
Sherman built a springhouse and laid copper pipe to the original cabin. There were willows there, and he used to water cattle there. Dick described his father’s project. “It was a scooped out hole and he [Sherman] thought he’d get enough water for the house, so he dug it out, but it wasn’t really successful. The spring was always flowing, but it was solid rock underneath, and they had to shoot down [blast], and sometimes when you shoot, you open a crack in the rock and the water gets away.” Dick also said that the rock around the spring was dry stacked about seven feet deep. Twenty years later, a cement cistern was put in, but it didn’t help much.
Dick, who also worked on the water pipe, commented: “We don’t need a water pump. We let Mother Nature do the pumping. The water is just a spring and runs into our holding tank.” He also recollected: “the pipe rusted out right at the beginning of WWII. We couldn’t buy pipe, so we had to carry water form over here in the gulch. There’s a well there. That got to be quite a chore when you got two feet snow. You can get used to it. You can make a little water go a long way, too.”
Other structures at the ranch included the large hay barn, saddle barn, stables, the blacksmith shop, chicken coops, and root cellar. The root cellar was built sometime prior to 1930.
Figure 19: Ranch House(Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, Boulder)
The “new” ranch house was started in 1920 (Figure 19: Ranch House>). Dick recalled, “My father, Colonel [Uncle William Jennings Bryant], [Uncle] Rome, and Clyde [Dodd] did most of the building. The logs came from and were cut at Jenny Lynn Gulch [north and east of Tolland].” Dick described the process, “[they were] very long logs, and they were seasoned, so they [the workers] just had to flatten each side and mortar. They’d had a camp up there and brought the logs down on wagons. The trip took half a day. They’d load up and bring a load down one day, then go back the next day and skid logs out for hauling the next day. Probably needed ten loads, but we [had] quite a lot of logs left over. These back logs are 38-feet long, so you had to have your wagon coupled out quite a long way. The roads were in about the same places as today but all dirt and narrow back then. If you met someone, well, one of you would have to get to a turn off and one of you would go by. That was true of Magnolia Road until about 1932 or 1933, ‘til they widened it to a two-lane road.” Dick said, “The logs were hand-hewn with a broad ax. The logs were then hatched with saw and ax, the frame put up, and chinked.”
The Scates referred to the area shown as Parcel 9 Figure 15: Scates Land Acquisition (to 2000 acres) as “the lower ranch.” It was located west of Twin Sister’s and Scates’ Mountain. This area was originally homesteaded by Dan Matthewson in the late 1870s before Sherman Scates bought it. In this vicinity, the stage stop known as Halfway House was located.
The barns on the lower ranch were built by Sherman, Dick, and Rome Wing. Dick recalled, “The timber came from Walker’s place before Gross Reservoir.” The main barn was at the bottom of the meadow under a tree. The Scates built a smaller log barn, still visible near the junction of County Road 68 and Cumberland Gap.
Dick said, “We’d store hay in the barn and have to come down and feed the cattle in the winter. There was lots of water, but sometimes on a real cold winter the water would freeze up and bulge over, but you could always get water up among those willows. We had oats planted in the field nearby, and we’d stack the oats and the elk would come down and eat the hay. So, we built that barn. There was one bad feature [with the field]. The soil was so rich, and the oats would grow so big and tall. It was awfully hard to cure them out. Really, it was a peat bog — it’s all peat moss. Before the ditch [Forsythe Creek], it was so deep, it was even wetter.” The family called this area “the oat patch.”
Dick described how there was a road east of Twin Sisters that went down to the back of the lower ranch. “It wasn’t much more than a cow track, but we drove it and hauled timber over it. [Uncle] Rome and I hauled timber down to the Kikionga Mine.”
Dick recalled that he always liked to work in that meadow because of its beauty, but it was challenging when shoveling snow. “I shoveled many a snowdrift. Just when you get it all shoveled out, the wind would come up and you’d have it all to do again.”
Rome and Pauline Wing’s family lived for twenty-two years on the lower ranch in what was once known as the ‘Halfway House.’ Rome would tend the cattle in the wintertime and help with hay. Once the house was vacant, vandals destroyed the structure, but a rock wall and the foundation of the house can still be seen as one drives along County Road 68 (Figure 7: Magnolia Road and Surroundings).
Figure 20 Ranch House (looking due North)
Figure 21: View from the Ranch House
Some of the Scates’ nearest neighbors lived two miles east of their home on property that was originally homesteaded in 1871, by James Carle. In 1899, the Barbers and Hoovers purchased Carle’s property and ran it as The Rocky Mountain Home Resort a/k/a Mountain House (Figure 22: Mountain House). Dick told that his mother had worked at the resort.
Dick said, “ It was considered the halfway house between Boulder and Blackhawk. The teams would come that far from Boulder, stay overnight, and then go on to Blackhawk. They had a regular boarding house then, although there weren’t many rooms. Many travelers would sleep in the wagons or in the barn.”
In 1907, the Hetzers bought the property from the Hoovers. Hetzers owned that property from 1907 until 1947. Dick remembered, “The lilac bush in front of the house has been there since the Hetzers were there. The buildings are all old. The Hetzers raised only angora goats. So, they did not share in the Scates’ work with cattle. Hetzers sold to the Hendricks in 1947. The Carle’s actual tiny homestead house still stands, immediately to the west of the former “Mountain House.”
Dick recalled some of the early homesteads in the area: Carle’s homestead house (Mountain House), Newton Hockaday’s house (Reynolds’ Ranch), our lower ranch house (Matthewson), the Best homestead, and the Winiger homestead (Figure 7: Magnolia Road and Surroundings). He said that they were all built fairly close to the same time, in the 1860s.” Still reminiscing about early homes on Magnolia, Dick said, “The log cabin, the Hockaday homestead house, is the oldest building on Magnolia. The log house was built first, and then the stone was built on, but about the same time.” It is said that the date the house was built is carved on the wall. That property, now known as Reynolds’ Ranch, is owned by Boulder Open Space and leased by the Reynolds family.
One of the really memorable characters on Magnolia Road lived on the Mountain House property in the early years. Dick recounted the stories he had heard: “There was an old barn up behind the house, and there was an old shack up behind there too, and the old guy who lived in the shack burnt himself up. He’s buried right there. His name was Dr. Bills. There are two stories about him. I wouldn’t have the least idea which is right. One was that he was a prominent doctor in Chicago at the time of the Chicago Fire. He got burnt out; his family all died; and he just came out here. The other story is that he came from back East somewhere and worked with the Indians, took some of their medicine, learned how the old medicine men worked. I don’t know which one was right.” In either case, Dr. Bills probably “lived like a hermit, trapping skunks, coyotes, and what have you. He lived in Bear Canyon before moving up here. When Mom’s family lived in Bear Canyon, Grandma got feeling real poorly, so they got Doc Bills to come and look her over. He said, ‘Oh, you’ll be all right. You take some of old Doc Bill’s little black pills.’ She didn’t die, so I guess they worked. He was a great guy for skunk oil” (Figure 23: Dr. Bills).
Figure 22: Mountain House
Figure 23: Dr. Bills
For more than eighty years, George Giggey, and his family before him, lived nearby and had many very close relationships with the Scates family. George shared this history of his family: “My parents [Charles Aden and Nancy Foster Giggey] were married in 1918, and they lived with Dad’s parents, George Leon and Mary “Mommy” Giggey, on Magnolia for a time. As the family told it, in 1919, they traveled to Dove Creek [in the southwest corner of Colorado] in a covered wagon. They homesteaded there on 160 acres. Before I was born, they lived in a ‘tent house.’ When the barn was built, my mother decided that the barn was better than the ‘tent house,’ so they moved into the barn.” George himself is known to joke that in 1931, he “was born in a barn near Dove Creek.” That is the truth. He was named George Leon Giggey after his granddad and an earlier relative.
George continued the family story, “When I was six years old, my family moved from Dove Creek to The Old Ranch on Magnolia Road [Hockaday’s Homestead]. We lived four years at that property.” Several owners later, the Reynolds bought The Old Ranch, and it is now known as The Reynolds’ Ranch and is part of Boulder County Open Space. The pond on the property, visible from Magnolia Road, is identified on detailed maps as “Giggey Lake.”
In the early 1940s, George’s dad bought the Winiger homestead (Figure 7: Magnolia Road and Surroundings). The family lived in the original 1861 Winiger log-and-chink homestead house which still can be seen at the intersection of County Road 97 and Colorado Highway 72. The homestead house’s roof collapsed during the great snowstorm of March 2003, when the weight of five feet of snow was too heavy for the 142-year-old building. Through the years, the Giggey family built other buildings on their property, and George and his wife, Blanche, raised their children and many grandchildren there. George continues to live there with some of his extended family.
The extended Giggey family owned a good deal of property in the Magnolia area. Dick Scates shared some additional history of the Giggey family; “George Giggey’s great-uncle, Del Giggey, bought Gaviness’ homestead rights and finished it up (Figure 7: Magnolia Road and Surroundings). Del lived in the old house there. My mother [Eva Scates] worked for Del and his wife when she was just a little girl. Like everyone else, they had a lot of kids and needed help with this and that.” George told us, “Del’s wife died in childbirth when their thirteenth child was born.”
Del Giggey’s property was owned next by Hardinger. Dick recalled, “The road grading was awfully good to old Hardinger’s. When the county road grader driver went by, why, he’d swing down in there.” We have learned that the driver was George Giggey himself. George worked for Boulder County, and he explained that his boss then, an elderly fellow, told him, “Take care of the older folks,” and that explains why George did grade or plow many older Magnolia residents’ roads and driveways, as he made his rounds. The Hardingers moved Del’s family’s house off its foundation and built their home over Del’s cellar. Dick noted that “there are a lot of springs [on that property]” and that “Hardinger built the pond that is there.” The current owner of that property, Joe Basco, tore down Del’s house when he built his addition to the Hardinger house.
George Giggey remained close to the Scates family. He and his own heavy equipment were often seen at the Scates’ Ranch. To this day, it is sometimes there. George said, “It seems like a part of that land.” When Dick and Edith grew older and were less able, he helped them out by doing what needed doing: feeding the animals, building fence, and doing chores. When Dick died, George took on more and more work around the ranch. Edith once told us, “George has been with us forever!”
In Edith’s later years, George would stop by every day. He cut the particular kind of firewood (aspen) that Edith preferred for the woodstove; and for many years, he was the one who made certain that Edith took her medication, and he put the prescription drops in her eyes when that was the doctor’s orders. The Scates had “taken care of him.” Later, George took care of them and their beloved home. Still, George is “caretaker” of the ranch, and he stops by every day.
Edith had such very warm memories of Ernie and May Betasso. “They lived up Sugarloaf Road. Theirs was a brick house on the right side of the road as you go up near the old Boulder Reservoir. The new water treatment plant on Sugarloaf was named The Betasso Water Treatment Plant,” Edith said proudly. Some of the Scates’ early neighbors (the Hetzers, for example) didn’t run cattle or have any cattle on the range, but the Betassos did. That made for a mighty and productive bond of friendship between the Edith and Dick Scates and Ernie and May Betasso. Edith and Dick would “change work” with them. They did cattle drives together and would help each other brand and vaccinate cattle. Edith stated firmly, “Anything to do with cattle, we worked together. For all that, you need extra help. My brother and I couldn’t do it, and Ernie and May couldn’t do it, so we just worked together.”
Edith mused that Ernie and his brother, Ray, who were contemporaries of Edith and Dick, “went to school at Silver Spruce [Elementary] School [at State Highway 119 and Magnolia Road, in Boulder Canyon]. Ray walked to Boulder to high school. Ernie didn’t go to high school, and neither did Dick.”
Edith loved May! She spoke of their great friendship, saying, “We got together a lot. We were best friends! She was a grand little person, and I just seemed to be so comfortable with her. We went shopping together and had lunch out.” May didn’t drive, so Edith “used to take her a lot of places.”
The Scates family worked hard to make a living. Everyone was needed to attend to many responsibilities on the ranch. Both adults and children were involved in tending the cattle and raising crops. Women took care of important domestic chores, such as laundry and preparing food, while the men usually would handle the ranch operations, such as plowing, cutting hay, clearing the fields, hunting, and transporting goods to and from town.
Edith learned from her mother how to perform household chores and did these throughout her life. But, from an early age, she also worked side by side with her brother, doing ranch work, such as milking the cows and digging potatoes. Perhaps this is why she adapted so readily as a young adult to handling a myriad of ranch responsibilities with Dick, such as clearing and tending to the fields, making fence, and driving cattle.
As Edith and Dick were growing up, they were responsible for milking three or four cows. “We just mostly [used the milk] for our own use, although we did sell some [butter and] cream. We did have to get the cows in, and milk them, and separate the milk.” Edith said, “Dick milked two to my one. I don’t know what the secret [was]. Maybe he was just stronger.”
Other childhood chores included splitting and carrying firewood, haying, and tending cattle. Edith recalled, “Riding [horses] wasn’t for play. We rode mostly after we were big enough to punch cows. Of course, you didn’t have to be very big.”
When Sherman’s eyesight began to fail, Dick (then somewhere between five and nine years old) had to take on tasks that required good eyesight: hunting and slaughtering. Explaining the probable cause of her dad’s failing vision, Edith said, “He did lots of blacksmith work. He shod horses, and then, he made the covering for wagon wheels. He didn’t use any [eye] protection, when looking into that bright [coal] flame. Now, you’d use very, very dark glasses to protect your eyes.” Sherman never went completely blind, but his vision was notably poor.
While they were children, Edith and Dick also helped with raising potatoes. They did a lot of work, from spring to fall: planting, weeding, digging, and hauling potatoes. Edith described digging out the potatoes. “Sometimes we used a digger, and sometimes we used a fork and just forked them out. We picked up the ones we were going to sell and put them in one basket [and separated them from the ones we were] going to eat. Even when we were quite little [eight or ten years old] why, we had to pick-up potatoes. That was a job, you know. Those half-bushel baskets were terribly hard for youngsters to do. Of course, very often some of the men, the older people, would empty the baskets into the potato sacks for us.”
In the evening, the adults would “go out with the horse and wagon, and then they’d take the sacks into the cellar and dump them into a bin. Later on, we’d sack them again and take them into Boulder and sell [them].” Potatoes were sold to [Cobb’s] livery stable on Walnut and 11th, Brady’s Grocery Store on Broadway and Spruce, and Joe’s Hamburgers. Potatoes were a cash crop for the Scates family until the 1930s, when the Dust Bowl deposited a fine yellow dust over everything, and subsequent potato crops were blighted.
Women played a vital role in handling the domestic tasks that allowed the ranch to run. Women would wash clothes no more than once a week. “On a nice day, [we would put the] old washing machine on the porch. We heated wash water in a boiler on the stove. Earlier, [we] had to [pump and] carry water from the well.” Edith and her mother made soap with lard and lye. The laundry was hung on a clothesline to dry. “If it was terribly cold, the clothes would freeze on the line.”
Edith recalled, “We got [ordered] a lot of [sewing material] out of the [Sears Roebuck] catalog. It was quite the shopping deal for us. [We] got nearly everything out of it, [including] clothes, shoes, and material.”
An important task of women was churning butter, which provided food both for the family to eat and to sell. “We had a tin churn with a dasher and later we got a glass churn. The time it takes to churn butter depends. At certain times of the year, you can churn butter in just a very few minutes, and I’ve seen it take an hour or two. It was harder to churn in the winter time, when [the cows] had just [been eating] dry feed.” Edith described how the family kept food cold before there were iceboxes: “Our milk and things we wanted cold would keep fairly well down in the spring [near the corral]. Of course, it was quite cool there.” The cream was sold in Boulder, and the milk was sold in Pinecliffe.
Edith and Dick’s mother, Eva, was a very hard-working woman. She enjoyed cooking and prided herself on having a good dinner for her family after their long workday. Reminiscing further, Edith told that her mother was creative and “just loved to quilt and crochet. And she dearly loved to make gardens, to can [food], and to do things like that. [She] loved to take care of other people.”
Large quantities of food had to be preserved to make sure everyone on the ranch could eat throughout the year. Since the men would go to town to get supplies only once a month or so, a lot of food had to be laid in. The Scates had a large garden. Edith recalled, “[We] canned and canned and canned. We didn’t have a deep freeze or anything then. We butchered our own beef, and even we canned that. I can remember, it used to be in August, when it was so beastly hot, when the beans [and peas] were good, and having to cook them in a boiler for eight hours. That was a hot old job.”
The Scates family raised chicken to eat, but they did sell some too. Chickens would generally come through the winter okay, but “occasionally, they’d get out in the snow and freeze a foot off. We had quite a few one-legged chickens.” When the winter was harsh, the hens wouldn’t lay as many eggs as during the rest of the year. The family also raised some pigs.
Although hunting contributed to the family’s supply of meat when Dick hunted rabbits, deer, and elk, Edith hated that animals were killed. Edith did not hunt. Once she said, they “had a whole bushel of rabbits. We’d raise ‘em and make pets of them and then we didn’t have the nerve to kill them. It’s silly, but then I don’t even like to have a chicken around that I have to kill.”
Dick described how he butchered beef. “We didn’t have refrigeration, so when we butchered beef, we had to use it up before it got to be warm weather. Of course, we canned, but we’d often have to take the ax out and chop a piece for dinner. I’ve cut steak with a double-bladed ax lots of times. You needed a pretty good whack to cut a steak when the beef was frozen solid. It’s not quite like cutting ice because the fibers held it together. We’d bring it in and cook it frozen.”
Women would can and make pies and jelly from handpicked strawberries, raspberries, chokecherries and huckleberries. According to her brother, Edith was “Queen of the Chokecherry” because she made the best jelly.
Edith described the challenges of baking on a wood stove. “It was not easy to bake on the old wood range, but we learned and managed. It was very hard to regulate your heat in a wood cook stove. You got so you knew how to do it. ‘Course, it’s much easier in a gas stove where you can set your heat. The old cook stove is up on the picnic grounds. Not much left of it [now].” Edith said, “My favorite baking was cookies, but [I also baked] some pies and cakes. We made our own bread all of the time. Then, we did make quite a bit of rhubarb pie. My favorite is lemon, but I always like [it] a little bit more tart. I put a little extra lemon juice in it. But, I really like lemon pie.”
A favorite pastime of friends and family was huckleberrying. Edith described a huckleberry as “ . . . really a blueberry, but much smaller and much stronger [in] taste. They have such a strong smell. I remember, we went huckleberrying and stayed all night in a cabin [near Tolland]. We had a washtub full of them. We were really sick from the smell of those huckleberries.” Collecting huckleberries was “really a job. [You] have to have rakes to get them you know? I have a couple of rakes left, that reach under the vines and pull off the berries. Oh what a job to clean ‘em, all the branches and leaves. You’d have to float ‘em all off.” One friend, Ernie Bettasso, showed his appreciation for the hard work of huckleberrying when he said, “Now remember, when you eat this pie, take little bites and chew it a long time.”
Edith told of wicks, mantles, and “the plant” during the 1920s and 1930s. “Well, for a long time, all you had was a kerosene lamp with a wick, you know? Then later, they [we] got those lanterns with mantles. They made a lot of noise, but they gave a really nice, bright light. Then, we got a little generated electricity. I suppose [it was] in the 1920s.” This made a huge difference in the quality of life at the ranch, and it allowed the family to have a radio. The ranch’s generator or “plant” was gas-powered and made an awful racket. It generated enough light for everyone to read newspapers, journals, and books.
Dick said, “When we decided we wanted a radio, Dad didn’t go for that kind of foolishness. He’d take in some homeless kids and look after them, but nothing like a radio.” Edith added, “So, Dick worked at the Kikionga Mine. Mom and I milked cows and sold cream and eggs, and [we] bought a radio. And you know, we didn’t have that radio a very little while, and Dad was the biggest fan of all. He was one of those to-bed–at-7-and-up-at-4-types, but ‘Amos and Andy’ came on later, and he stayed up for ‘Amos and Andy.’ They [white actors] were supposed to be black comedians, you know, before race became such an issue.” Later, the Scates bought a radio that had batteries they could recharge with “the plant.” Edith remembered, “While my dad was still alive, we had a radio that ran on batteries. We got static mostly, but we could get WLS in Chicago. I can’t remember who the announcer was, but he would say, ‘It’s a beautiful day in Chicago, the wind is blowing, and it’s four below zero.’ We’d get ‘The Grand Ole Opry’ from Chicago. We got some world and local news. Of course, news didn’t travel as fast at that time, but it was much easier to keep current after you got a radio.”
Dick elaborated on the change electricity made to the ranch. “We take it for granted now, but when we think, before that, we had a power plant — that was a headache.What a change electricity was! We got electricity here after WW II (about 1948). We brought the line over from Hardinger’s. I had a friend on the REA [Rural Electrification Act] board at the time, so they said they’d do it. They said, ‘but you go back and talk to Public Service. Well, I knew the guy at Public Service, so I took the papers down and [threw] them on his desk and said, ‘Well, can you beat that?’ He looked at the papers and said, ‘I can’t beat it, but I’ll do my best to equal it!’ We cut the right of way. I thought we’d be waiting on Public Service for the next two years. We’d just got started [cutting] down over the hill from Hardinger’s place and looked back, and there Public Service was, setting poles.” To keep ahead of the Public Service crew, Dick and his friends “had to work like slaves.”
Edith described her brother: “Dick worked hard in school and got good grades, but he didn’t like it one minute. He enjoyed life, and he saw the funny side of a lot of things. [He was] a person with a good disposition. He was just a little taller than me. I am five feet, two inches. Dick was five feet, six or seven inches”. The war was on, and he went to register. He was going to enlist. The doc or whoever was registering them said, ‘You’ll do more good raising crops and raising food than you would do in the Army.’ They didn’t take him, because he was grazing cattle and raising potatoes.”
Edith described her father as quite strict and domineering, especially with his son. Dick had part of his father’s disposition, and so they clashed quite a bit. When Dick went out to live in Arizona for a year or so, Sherman realized he couldn’t manage the ranch alone. So, Sherman asked his wife, Eva, to write to their son to ask him to return to run the ranch with him as a partner. Dick did so, and Edith recalled, “It worked out okay.” She said that her father must have realized that “he would have to be more considerate if he was to have help from his children.” Dick gave his own account, “I worked away most of the time until Dad died. The last eight years he lived, I stayed here most of the time to help run the ranch or get in the way. I just about did all the work. Of course, he did the bossing, which I could have done without. He died in ‘40; I was thirty-two.”
Around the time when her father became ill and after he died, Edith became an even more integral part of general ranch operations than before. Edith and Dick often would get around by horseback. “It was quite a job putting up hay and raking. Typical day chores were sawing wood, hauling hay, making fence, plowing, or moving cattle.” Edith recalled how they worked together. “I would drop the potatoes and he’d come along and cover them up. When we were putting up hay, why, he mowed and I did the raking. Then, he’d bale, and we’d load the hay. I did that up to just a few years ago.”
Edith performed some tasks that were not traditional for women to do. She chuckled as she remembered how she and her brother cleared rocks from the hay fields. They would blow the rocks out with dynamite. The fuse had to be long enough so that they could get out of the way in time. Dick would light the fuse, and they would have to run so the rocks wouldn’t hit them. “Well, it was our job, and we did it without thinking. Of course, we enjoyed nearly everything on the ranch.”
Maintaining the fence around the ranch was a huge task that required attention every spring after the damaging wind and snow of winter, as well as damage caused by elk. Edith and Dick repaired the fence together, including digging postholes with a spade and a digging bar. They would look for burned pine trees to make fence posts. Wood is pitchy if it is from trees that have been partially burnt, making it harder and more resistant to rot. Edith could split a seven-foot pitch log with a double-bitted ax. She would first split it into halves, then split into quarters to make posts.
The men “hauled potatoes and coal mine props to the mines near Louisville, then purchased staple foods to haul home, i.e. 500 pounds of sugar and 1,000 pounds of flour.” Dick recalled, “One of the things we used to do in the wintertime to make a little money was cutting mine timber and hauling it to Boulder. We’d cut green timber around here and haul the logs down. We sold to a guy in Boulder who also sold coal. He’d weigh it up and pay us, then he’d haul it out to Louisville. We’d cut with a two-man saw and ax, cutting trees over sixteen feet so the tops were about four inches minimum, mostly lodge pole.” Edith described a coal-mine prop. “Well, it’s just a timber they put in to keep the mine from caving in, so the people could go down in and get the ore out . . . They used to haul it out, usually by those big buckets. They would pick it over and pick out the richest ore.”
George Seal (the uncle Sherman came to live with when he was a teen) worked in the mines at Magnolia. The following were mining claims owned by George Seal: Black Tiger Lode (1877), Croesus Lode (1880), Audophone Lode (1885), Potosi (1885), and the Recluse Mill site (1888). Edith said, “My father didn’t work the mines. Dick worked at Kikionga some, but not a great deal.” Now there is an overlook on top of the Kikionga site just below the four-mile marker (Figure 24: Kikionga Mine.
Dick recalled, “Most of the mines around Magnolia were gold mines with a certain amount of silver: Kikionga, American, Mountain Lion, and Keystone Mines. I suppose they started in the 1870s and were going when Dad came here in 1889. I worked in ‘Old Kiki’ [Kikionga]. It ran more than any other mine in Magnolia, and I don’t know why ‘cause there wasn’t nothing in it. I shoved muck into a corner. I was twenty or twenty-one. I got $1.50 a day and machine men got $3 a day. I walked from home to Kikionga, put in eight hours a day, and walked back. They didn’t pay me, so I took their old Ford tractor and that wasn’t what I wanted, so I traded it for a steam engine. It’s really an antique. We’d have to shovel wood into it and get the steam up. We used it mostly just to cut firewood and cut poles. You’d get the steam from the boiler to the engine, then you’d put a belt on the engine over to your saw.”
Dick described the uncertainties of the Magnolia mines. “There were a few around here [who] got quite a little money, but they turned around and put it right back into the mines.” Sharing her observation of the mining, Edith said, “Oh yes, that was a dream of so many people . . . The next shovel full would be it, you know. Some of them spent their life and what little they had, and never found it.”
Dick continued his history of mining in the area. “They mined for gold and silver here. Up around Nederland, they were mining for tungsten. There was quite a lot of prospecting during the tungsten era, and even during the gold era up on top of Magnolia. Up behind Poppe’s and McGinnis [west of the Scates’ Ranch], there was a road going to a tungsten-prospecting hole. There used to be tarpaper houses back there. That was during WWI (1918). They were really hunting for tungsten and Nederland really ‘boomed’.”
Figure 24: Kikionga Mine
Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, Boulder Historical Society Collection
Cattle ranching is a gamble. To earn a living is a boom or bust situation. Edith gave her own account. "Well, in the spring of the year when you’re calving [cows giving birth] it’s a real challenge because if you don’t get the cows into where it’s fairly dry, why, when the little calves are born they’ll chill [chilled calves often cannot get up to nurse so they just give up and die]. We might keep in the cows we thought were going to calve and the one we haven’t even thought about would have the calf. We got paid once a year when we sold the cattle, but we had to make it last all year."
The money that a cattle rancher receives at sale time depends on the cattle market. For instance, during a drought many ranchers have to sell their herds. Therefore, the cattle market is flooded and prices drop. The opposite is true if grazing is good (lots of green grass) and the hay crop is abundant. Following a drought ranchers want to restore their herds, but then cattle are scarce and prices rise.
In the early days, Sherman Scates sold his calves to “speculators.” They came to the ranch in the fall to bid on the calves. When Sherman learned how much profit these cattle buyers made when they sold the calves, he began driving the cattle to the Denver Stockyard to sell them himself.
Dick spoke of driving cattle to Denver, “It took two and a half days in cold weather. In hot weather it took a long three days down Coal Creek Canyon and up and over. Most of the road is the same today as it was then.” Edith added, “and when we drove them it took several riders. Oh, they got so sore-footed going. Of course that was just a gravel road. Oh, they’d lose weight when they drove them. By 1940, when they started to have so many truck gardens [farm or garden to raise vegetables for sale or barter] and homes around Arvada, why, that wasn’t a popular place to have our cattle, especially hungry ones. You’d do the best you could [keeping them out of the gardens] and hope those Italians didn’t shoot. But it wasn’t fair to them you know? Soon there was so much traffic and highways it just wasn’t possible.”
Delivering heavy, healthy cattle to the sale barn is key to making money for the cattle rancher. Over the years, as he drove the cattle to the Denver livestock auction, Sherman became keenly aware of their weight loss, fatigue and sore feet. He decided to hire a big semi truck to haul them. It was clear that trucking held more advantages than disadvantages. Edith often emphasized, ”My father was a very good business man. Cattle trucks became more useful and easier. Father hired them later on [to haul the cattle]. First it was the Yackeys and then Oliver Klinky who had the trucks to truck cattle. It certainly paid to truck, although there is some shrinkage [weight loss] even in hauling. If you could wait to later in the fall [for weight gains and fewer cattle at the sales] why, you’d get a better price. But then you couldn’t be sure of the roads. They didn’t plow very much.”
"We didn’t have vacations," Edith exclaimed. "That was out of the picture. In summer we had them [cattle] on the range. We put them in the forest up toward Tolland. We had to take care of them so we did a lot of riding [horseback]."
Dick Scates recounts, “We built four barns over a period of five or six years. Just when the weather got so bad you couldn’t do anything else, why, then you’d work on building barns. We used to keep our weaning calves all winter [and] feed the little rascals. The weaning barn [at Pine Glade and Magnolia] Uncle Rome, dad and I built it in 1935–or 1936. We hauled that lumber all the way from Walker’s Ranch on South Boulder with a team and wagon. There used to be good fishing down in there, before the reservoir. My dad bought the old Dan Matthewson Ranch [lower Scates’ meadow]. One barn was built at the bottom of the meadow under a tree. Edith and I would go down in the winter to the lower meadow and feed the cattle. She’d ride Big Red and I’d ride Cuppy. It took about four hours to ride down, feed, find water for them [sometimes they had to break ice], and ride back. The snow would get so deep I couldn’t drag the hay bales, so I’d ride up beside the barn window and Edith would push a bale of hay onto Cuppy’s back. I’d ride out and cut the bale wires. The hay would fall off either side. Then I’d go back and get some more. We had about 100 head.”
There is no sick leave for ranchers. To put it in Edith’s own words, “Well, we just took it as it came. If we got sick, we’d go right ahead anyway, because there was nothing else to do, you know? I remember one time my mother and brother both were in the hospital with pneumonia. I should have gone, but there wasn’t anybody to do the work. Part of the time I could hardly see and had a high fever. I guess I’m just tough! I had about 200 head of cattle to feed. I don’t know what ever I’d have done but for my neighbor John Hendricks, you know? Then, I had Lita Chase [a close neighbor]. She was sure a big help to me. She drove the truck while I fed the cattle. I always enjoyed cattle. It was hard work but also fascinating. We don’t expect much reward.”
Lita Chase remembers helping Edith:
It was in the spring of 1968 when Dick became quite ill and was unable to work for several months. My five-year old daughter, Angela, and I helped Edith every morning for several months to feed the 100 head of cattle, which were then kept at the lower Scates’ Ranch. This meant that Edith drove the old International truck several miles down County Road 68 to the old barn that still stands today. The three of us would load 100-pound bales of hay onto the truck there. I slowly drove the truck into the meadow as Edith and little Angela dropped the bales here and there with cows patiently following. In time, Dick recovered and was well enough to resume his morning chores of tending the cattle and the ranch with Edith. However, the presence of that little girl was requested to continue “cowboying” alongside the Scates.
Edith said she liked twine-tied bales [not wire], “Forty or fifty pounds or a little less. We’d get them in the barn when they were dry. We needed about 1,200 to 1,500 bales.” When asked if she wore pants, Edith’s response was immediate and clear. “Of course working on the ranch it was always quite necessary. I always did work just as much as the men. I wore overalls or slacks or something like that. I had a pair of lace boots but they hurt my ankles. Also, I had really nice suede riding boots with high heels which were much more comfortable.”
It’s important to note that ranchers want to feed hay in a field or pasture and from a moving vehicle (as Edith and her neighbors did). The cows follow the horse drawn hay wagon, or tractor with a trailer, or pickup truck. Spreading the hay in this manner gives the cows separate hay piles, therefore an equal chance to eat. The hoof action on the land creates little pockets that will hold moisture. Hayseeds that fall to the ground are trampled and quickly buried to sprout and grow later. Soils where cows eat are tilled, seeded, and fertilized.
Some cattlemen believe that leaving the horns on cattle is a protection against predators. However, buyers will not pay top dollar for cattle with horns that hurt and injure. Horned calves or cows quickly learn that they can bully and butt the other cattle away from feed out of the shed or away from the herd. Calves can be dehorned with dehorning tools or dehorning paste. Both methods are risky and painful. At the Scates’ Ranch they used a Barnes dehorner, a tool that cuts into the flesh around the horn button and scoops it out. Bleeding is controlled by cauterizing the blood vessels that once nurtured the soft tissues to the horn button. Dehorning paste is potassium hydroxide (caustic potash) or sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) that burns away the horn button. The burning is painful to the calf and the paste could run down into the calf’s eyes. Cattle can be polled (dehorned) genetically. For example, breeding Angus bulls to horned cows will always poll (dehorn) the first generation of calves.
Cattle ranchers are primarily in the business of raising and selling calves for meat (beef calves). The market demands that male beef calves be castrated (steers). These altered calves gain weight faster, are calmer, and more easily managed. Edith made it clear that, even though necessary, dehorning and castrating calves was “a bloody business, mostly done by Dick and the men.”
The Scates raised Hereford cattle. The family found that this breed, from Western England, took care of their calves, produced enough milk to raise a calf, and foraged very well on high altitude pastures leased from the National Forest Service. Edith recalled, “The cows would come home from summer range fat and hardy. Rarely would a calf be missing, although lightning sometimes took its toll.” The Scates viewed this misfortune as part of the cattle ranching gamble.
President Theodore Roosevelt was instrumental in building the system of public reserves called national forests. These public lands were set aside to be used and developed in the permanent interest of the whole nation and are today rendering this service. The Scates paid fees to the national forest system for permits or allotments. The allotments permitted them to graze their cattle on forest grasses during the summer months. Edith explains, “We were able to lease a good many acres from the Toll family [the area now known as Tolland] as well as from the National Forest Service.” The Toll property borders national land and provided a huge summer range for livestock. While the cattle grazed the rich forest grasses the ranchers cut their own hayfields and stored the hay for winter feeding. The allotments and the Toll property is still being grazed by cattle every summer.
Ranchers often worked together, driving their cattle to the summer ranges. They would move the cattle on horseback. Ernie Betasso and his older brother, Ray, would drive their cows and calves straight from the ranch corrals and down Sugarloaf Road, across Highway 119, then head up Magnolia Road. They stopped at the Hendrick’s ranch (Marie Mozden’s) to add the Hendricks’ herd to the cattle drive then continued to the Scates’ Ranch. Edith recollected, “We worked with our neighbor down there, John Hendricks, and when the three herds merged at our place, they would be driven [via CR 97] to Bob and Dan Young’s pasture across from Beaver Creek and next to Highway 72. In that pasture, we kept them overnight and [next day] drove on to Tolland.”
Edith was about sixteen on her first cattle drive to summer range. “I did ride sometimes but mostly it was my responsibility to drive the truck. Probably the hardest part was stopping traffic, a job that I certainly did not like. You drive ahead with a flag and slow the traffic down and tell them that cattle are coming, you know? No one was ever anything but interested and never anyone objected. I guess you’d call me the lackey. I carried lunch. I got their [riders’] coats when they were too warm and gave them their coats when they got cold. Then the young calves would play out and become so tired they couldn’t keep up. With mainly strength and awkwardness, the riders tossed them up into the truck. I hauled them until we stopped for a rest, and then they’d take them out. We had to watch very, very carefully because those little calves would try to hide to rest. In that way we might go off and leave them. Then we’d have trouble when we got there [summer range], because when a mama missed her baby she started to hunt. They usually found them all right.”
If a mother cow is unable to find her calf she just naturally starts back tracking. Once that happens, it is always difficult — sometimes impossible — to bring the cow back into the herd. With a very distressed, bellowing cow the herd has been known to back track along with her. Edith told us that at Tolland, “We stayed for quite some time waiting to see if they ‘mothered up,’ to see if all the cows claimed their calves.”
During the afternoon, while the cattle were settling on the summer range, the riders and their families met for picnic lunch. This was a very gratifying and social event for the ranchers. The women fried chicken, made sandwiches, salads, lemonade, and desserts. Everyone sat or stretched out on the grass to eat and catch upon latest news in their lives. Perhaps they amused themselves with a few jokes. The horses were put into a specially fenced pasture. Some riders loaded their horses up the loading ramp and into the truck to take them home.
Ranchers would take turns checking the cattle on summer range. Sometimes a rider would saddle one of the horses from the horse pasture and ride out to check the cattle. Often a man or woman was hired to stay with the cattle. Art Weaver had a big old paint horse he called Circus, and they stayed up there and watched the cattle.”
Until 1942, the Scates made hay with a team of horses. Remembering the rhythmic clack of the cutter blades, and the sweet smell of the newly cut hay prompted Dick Scates to say, “I loved to cut hay with a team.” On the other hand, Edith recalls doing lots of hay raking, but she “never much cared for driving the team.”
Here’s how to make hay with a team: cut the grass and let it cure in the sun (dry until grass stem breaks); rake the cured grass, spinning it into windrows (rows); with a horse on each side of the windrow, drive the buck rake over the windrow to make the hay shocks (separate piles); with pitch forks, and strong backs, pitch the shocks of hay onto hay wagons; and haul it to hay stacks or to hay barns and unload.
Edith recalled, “One time we had a stationary baler. You brought the hay to the stationary baler and fed it by hand. It seemed it was the very coldest weather. Of course, you couldn’t move, so it was really difficult. You had to put blocks between the bales [as they came out of the bale chamber]. One person on each side would run the baling wire through, and the person on the other side would tie it, my brother or my uncle Jerome [Wing]. Later we got a pick-up baler.”
In 1942, the family bought a Ferguson Ford tractor. According to Edith, “It did just about everything. It took the place of the horses.” The Ferguson Ford had a power-take-off (PTO) built into the transmission of the tractor. It could be turned on and off. For example, a mower attached behind the tractor and connected to the PTO to cut the grass. A pick-up baler attached behind the tractor and connected to the PTO to drive over the windrow to make the hay bales. Owning a tractor with a PTO made putting up hay easier. Despite its advantages, the tractor could get stuck in meadow bogs, or run out of fuel, or have flat tires, often at the most unfavorable time while making hay.
Have you wondered where those wheel tracks that are familiar to many of us, end? Some go directly through tenacious, muddy bogs. Some, now faint and overgrown with grass, run through the pine woods. On steeper mountainsides, deeply eroded wheel tracks remain to tell of an ancient wagon road. Beneath the dead fall one might discover a narrow road held in place by a hand built stone retaining wall. Who labored here so long ago? Who drove on these roads?
“I was fifteen,” Rome (Edith and Dick’s uncle) said. “My brother Joseph and I drove a two-horse team and wagon loaded with heavy pine logs down Magnolia Road. The coal mines [at Superior] bought the logs to mill into ties for the mine car rails. The road was steep, rutted, and treacherous. We prayed there would be no wagons coming up because we could not pull out of the ruts just any place. There were no switchbacks like today. It was very hard on the horses. It took a whole day to get down to Boulder. We kept the horses at Cobbs’ stable across from Merle’s machine shop [Merle Reynolds’ shop on Walnut, east of 9th Street, in Boulder]. Cobb’s sold feed for the horses but we had to feed them. We stayed at a nearby boarding house. One night it started to snow and was still snowing at dawn. We harnessed up and started home anyway. Not far up Boulder Canyon the snow reached the horses’ chests. It was such a struggle and snowing every step of the way. We decided to turn around and head back to the stable. I never seen one snowfall last such a long time. It was said that this storm set a record depth . Everyone had to dig out. I was unable to get home so I took a job with on old farmer and his wife out near Hygiene. I chopped wood, shoveled snow to get to their haystacks, helped feed and water stock and just about anything they asked me to do. They were able to pay me twenty-five cents a day plus board and room. After fourteen days I could leave the old couple and think about heading home.”
On older maps you can find the broken lines that indicate unused old two-track roads. County Road 68 was part of one of the oldest stagecoach roads in the area. Wagons and coaches heading for Blackhawk came up from Boulder via Gregory Canyon and Flagstaff Road, along County Road 68 to Magnolia Road. The horses pulled loaded wagons and stagecoaches over washed out switchbacks filled with loose boulders, and through muddy, wet meadows. In winter, they hauled through snow-drifted draws and across icy creek bottoms.
Edith explained, “From there [Magnolia Road at Joe Bosco’s driveway], they’d go on up, not the road [CR 132] that goes to [Hwy.] 119, but rather the one [CR 97] that hitches to the Beaver [Creek]. Go up [Hwy] 72 a mile or two from the junction and then you take that road called South Beaver [Creek] Road.”
Wagons were used to deliver freight (hay, for instance) to the work animals at the mines in Central City and Blackhawk. Today, hikers can see faded two tracks running through Reynolds’ Ranch Boulder County Open Space. It is believed that, each summer, 100 tons of hay was cut and freighted by horse and wagon to Blackhawk from these meadows (Hockaday’s homestead ranch from 1860 to 1876). Before the turn of the century, mining equipment was hauled to the gold mines from Boulder. Fresh meat, produce, and staples had to be delivered by horse drawn wagons. These crude, poorly maintained, and steep wagon roads were extremely important to the miners and to people homesteading the Colorado Territory.
For us, the wagon tracks are a mysterious and fascinating legacy. Wheel tracks can be found going through our backyards, through our National Forests, and through our parks and open spaces.
Some say that when Hiram Fullen discovered tellurium ore , he staked a claim calling his mine Magnolia. The discovery caused miners to scramble to the area in search of riches. The town that sprang up nearby took the same name. The area eventually had several gold mines, including the Dunraven, Mountain Lion, Keystone, and Ben C. Lowell. While surface gold mining had been an attraction for the early “gold rushers,” underground mining took over at the Magnolia mines.
When Sherman W. Scates came to Magnolia he reported that the town extended on both sides of the road and 500 people lived there. It’s said the residents voted in 1876 to forbid saloons. Dick disagreed, “There were three saloons in Magnolia, so they tell me, but no church.” Edith gave her account, “Magnolia was a booming town. They had a post office, a store, and a boarding house [for the miners]. My aunts ran the boarding house, you know? Of course, they had bedrooms and a dining room. And naturally, they did all the cooking.” Dick added, “There was a big hotel just below that big rock [Decision Rock – near the 3-mile marker]. The hotel would be about in the middle of the present road. The road used to take off straight up in front of the hotel. A single track road, too! The men came and boarded. Their families stayed in town. They couldn’t go back and forth, and the families couldn’t come [to the mine], and [so] they needed more boarding houses. The second hotel was less than one quarter of a mile below the mine east of Magnolia on the right. You’ll see a pile of ashes that came out of the [stoves of the] hotel. There are [also] yellow roses like a wild rose, but yellow with double petals. I believe they come from Wales or Cornwall, ‘cause nearly all the people that worked in mines and ran mines were from Wales or someplace like that, and they brought these roses.”
There were two different Magnolia schoolhouses. The earlier school was a brown house, probably a private dwelling. The second school was designed by the school district. It was a one-room, three-window school, with white clapboard siding, a roofed-over porch, and cement steps. The bigger schoolroom required three windows on each side. (The Pine Glade School that Edith and Dick attended was the same design, but smaller and required only two windows on each side. The Silver Spruce School is a good example of schoolhouse design from those days) (Figure 7: Magnolia Road and Surroundings). Edith explained, “The Magnolia School was located about a mile down the road from the old town site sign, and on the north edge of the road. It’s moved over to Nederland too [as is the Pine Glade School]. I don’t know how in the world they got that building around those turns going to Nederland.”
“We didn’t go to Nederland much. We went to Boulder. And, well it would be, at the very best probably just in a wagon. Of course, I didn’t go down there too much. The women
folk usually didn’t go to town in the wintertime. The men who hauled potatoes and coal props [milled timbers to line the coal mines] went in, but that was it. They could make the trip in a day, leaving at 4:00 a.m. and returning at 10:00 p.m., but it was hard on the teams. The original Magnolia Road was very steep, with narrow cuts that filled with ice and snow. It was not the [precise] route the road follows today. The roads then were made to cut distance rather than to have a good grade. A two-horse team could haul down hill, but if they were returning with provisions, it required a four-horse team. Somebody, usually me, took another team to the foot of Magnolia Hill where the men would hitch up the extra horses.”
At that time, it was approximately seven miles from the top to the bottom of the road. Edith was still a child, but she harnessed up two big draft horses. To mount the big horse, she would first have to climb on a rock or wooden fence. She would then ride one horse bareback, while she led the other one by a halter and lead rope. She admitted, “I had my hands full and they were usually cold as well.” Edith said with a little chuckle, “I walked back home, taking a shortcut and beat the wagon home by hours.”
Edith remembered, “My father used a team to haul goods up and down Magnolia Hill. We needed flour and sugar [winter’s supply]. They had hardware stores [in Boulder] and they’d get other supplies they needed, like horseshoes and hardware, things like that. Usually they’d get a load of grain [for horses]. Of course, the roads were not like now. They were very, very steep and dangerous. In the wintertime the snow would blow in there and freeze. The horses [shod] with shoes that had calks [metal spurs welded to the horse shoe] would stick in the ice so the horses could hold or pull. You needed that, otherwise, it was too slick and they would just fall.”
Dick estimated that “the [team] horses were big horses, 1,500 to 1,600 pounds. We had five team horses here and the person who worked the lower fields had a team. There were lots of farmers with big horses, and they were easy to get. To teach a young horse to pull, we’d take an experienced team and hitch them to the hayrack. Then we’d tie the youngster’s halter to his mama’s mane for about half a day. He could get used to the rattling, and when he got big enough, why, he was ready to work.”
The riding horses that were used for checking fences or working cattle were of a lighter build than the team horses. Edith pointed out, “If we didn’t have some cattle to ride to, we didn’t care to spend a whole day just riding around on a horse. Oh, you got so attached to your horses! I had one horse, Big Red. He was partly gaited. Oh, he was so easy to ride. I had another horse I liked very much. He was a roan colored quarter horse. I preferred a smaller horse. Roany and Big Red were tall. My legs weren’t long enough to reach the stirrups if I didn’t have a stump or a fence. But I liked them so much. They were so intelligent. Of course, they were much harder to get on.”
Sherman bought a black pony, Cricket, for the children to ride to school. Someone would hold Cricket by the reins while the tiny riders mounted. When everyone was ready Cricket was released. Edith said, “As quick as lightening, he would bolt for a fence or ditch and plant all four feet into the ground. No child could stay on. My uncles could ride him, but no one else (Figure 25: Edith and her pony ‘Cricket’ (unknown rider)).”
Figure 25: Edith and her pony ‘Cricket’ (unknown rider)
According to Dick, “There was a time when they’d haul the mail from the Tungsten by a ‘bus route’ of Stanley Steamers [F. E. Stanley and his twin brother introduced the steam powered car to the United States in 1897]. If you look sometime, you can see a road going perpendicular [from Tungsten], why, that was the county road coming right up. I don’t know how they ever got an automobile up there, but they did.” This “bus route” on the county road from Tungsten came to Charles Hockaday’s homestead, which is known today as the Reynolds’ Ranch Boulder County Open Space.
The Scates picked up their mail at the Magnolia Post Office, which was established May 16, 1876, and was closed December 31, 1920. In the beginning, the mail was hauled by the stagecoaches. But, Edith remembers from her childhood, “A postman drove a little light wagon with a span of mules to the post office in Magnolia. We’d walk there for our mail, and that was seven miles, but probably not more than a couple times a week, and sometimes not that. The post office was where the Scohys’ house is now, and the post mistress lived in the building.” Dick added, “The old lady who ran the post office was so nearsighted she had to get her nose right on the paper to write. Us kids got quite a kick out of her. She wasn’t using a pen to write with, she was using her nose. We changed our mail from Magnolia up to Pinecliffe when they did away with the post office in Magnolia.”
The mail was hauled to Pinecliffe Post Office by train. Edith exclaimed, “Well, it depended on the time we had each day as to how often we’d go to Pinecliffe to get the mail. We’d sometimes cut through the fields and over the hills, but [usually we] went much the same way as we do now.” Sometimes a significant amount of time would pass between the Scates visits to the Pinecliffe post office. “Dad’s sister and his mother [from Missouri] sent us a note telling us they’d be here at a certain time. They came and walked to the post office and brought the note to us because we hadn’t been [there in time to learn of their coming]. We were probably eleven, twelve, thirteen, [or] fourteen years old. I was two years older than Dick. Mrs. Andrews had a little kind of store in Pinecliffe. She sold candy and a few other things. If we had an extra nickel, which would buy quite a little bit of candy, she’d give us a little more, you know? It seems to me we had those jawbreakers or candy-on-a-stick suckers. I can’t remember that we had chocolates.”
When the Star Routes were established in the 1930s, the Scates’ mailing address was transferred to Nederland, and they were responsible for picking up their mail in town. Bob Roney was the carrier and hauled the mail from Boulder to Nederland in a car. The residents on Magnolia Road wanted a rural mail delivery. Dick recounted, “Bob Roney said he’d be happy to come down through here if we changed the road up at Reynolds’ place. See, at the time the county road came through that west meadow and right down in front of the old log house. There was a gate where you started, and there was a gate at the house, and there was a gate at this end, which made three gates. So old man Hetzer and I went up there and brought the road down the way it is now. We had a little horse drawn road grader. It’d take two or three swipes to get the road wide enough. It didn’t take long at all to clear the road, but it took a long time to build that two miles of fence along the road. All the split cedar posts are original. The county bought them somewhere.”
Dick Scates had bought a Model-A Ford while Edith was a high schooler at Mt. St. Gertrude’s, and Edith had commented on how convenient it was to get home from Boulder in the car. She also revealed one problem the Model-A had: “Anyway, the gas tank was so situated that if you were going up a steep hill, it would drain the gas out, so you had to turn around and back up, so you could get some place.” That got tiresome for mountain residents, but when Edith, Dick, and Eva wanted to buy a new car, Sherman was “pretty much against it.” That was his usual attitude when it came to new-fangled things, so the three progressives in the family “all pitched in.”
The three began to figure how to make and save the money they’d need to buy a new car. To quote Edith, “I believe we paid $700, although we must have been a long time getting that. “Dick worked at Kikionga and sold props to the coal mines. Well, we sold cattle, and we did sell some hay. Mom and I milked the cows and made butter and sold the butter, milk, and eggs at a little store in Pinecliffe.” The three also sold potatoes at Brady’s, near 11th and Walnut in Boulder. Perhaps they had been eyeing cars at the Nash dealership near Brady’s when they were delivering the potatoes.
Edith told it this way: “Well, Dick and I went to Boulder. I don’t remember just how we got there to get the car from Henry Lawrence. [The car they chose was] “a 1927, seven-passenger Nash touring seat. The back seat laid back so you could carry things. I drove it home, up Magnolia Hill.”
When asked how she learned to drive, Edith reported, “I think the dealer was supposed to teach me to drive, but he just turned me loose and said, ‘You shift, and you do this, and you do that to shift, you know.’ It was a gear-shift, of course, and I think it even had a double low [gear], much more for bad mountain roads, you know.”
Though it’s hard to fathom, Edith told us that the first trip they took, so she could get some practice driving, was “on Virginia Canyon, between Idaho Springs and Central [City].” That same courageous woman told us, at age ninety, that it was the “worst road you could imagine. That was really a road! They used it for horses and wagons . . . with the horses, why, they had bells on them, so they could hear them coming, and the person that was the nearest the turn-out stopped and waited for the other. With a car, it was different. You just hoped you’d be to a wide place if you met another car. There were just a very few places where you could turn out and wait [for another vehicle or wagon to pass], and I wasn’t too good at backing.” Edith laughed as she continued, “It was pretty touch-and-go, going down there.” That road has been widened to two slender lanes. To the present, that road is still known as “Oh My God Road!”
Edith exclaimed, “That ‘27 Nash was a snazzy-looking car! We had a lot of pleasure with that car, and we used it a lot, almost like a truck. We hauled potatoes to sell and grain and horse feed; and after we got that Nash, we went to town more often.”
Figure 26: 1927 Nash
Illustration by Bill Border
(Co-authored by Alison Border)
It’s three o’clock in the morning,
We’ve danced the whole night thru,
And daylight soon will be dawning,
Just one more waltz with you.
That melody so entrancing,
Seems to be made for us two,
I could just keep right on dancing,
Forever, dear, with you.
Ranchers, saw mill workers, miners, and other mountain folk did not have much time or money to take a vacation or simply a day off to play. Monthly dances were thus a highlight that Edith and her neighbors looked forward to with great anticipation. Without electricity to light the night and provide the sound, the dances were small and simple by today’s standards. However, the music and merry-making did not lack for cheer or enjoyment. Folks would come from as far away as Pinecliffe, all on horseback, to the Pine Glade or Magnolia Town schoolhouses.
The dances were, of course, dependent on good weather and generally attended by about six to twelve adults, maybe more. The small one room schoolhouse made for an adequate dance hall. With a twinkle in her eye, Edith recalled, “They used to have the dances in the schoolhouses, you know? And they’d turn the desks with the backs to the wall and then they’d put the little youngsters on the desks to sleep while the parents danced.” Even though a fire would be lit in the wood stove at the front of the house, the air was often chilly. So, the ladies could often be found wearing slacks, although some did delight in the chance to wear high heels and long skirts. Edith preferred her oxfords and a pair of slacks for the comfort and warmth.
According to Edith, the dances would start, “oh, usually about nine o’clock [at night] and [go] until about three o’clock in the morning. [We] made a night of it.” The music was also simple. At the least, someone could always be found to blow a tune on a mouth organ. If they were lucky, they’d also have an accordion or fiddle. Emory Schlick was quite an accordion player. Dick Yates could weave many a tune on the fiddle. On occasion, the revelers would be graced by the Perkin’s band. One of Edith’s favorite tunes was “Three O’clock in the Morning.” She also fancied a few waltzes and “of course the polkas . . . I was never a very good polka dancer, but I enjoyed the polkas.” She also enjoyed square dancing.
Edith enjoyed dancing with Emory Schlick, who often did the calling for the square dances. She would also dance with her brothers and uncles. Edith recalled that May and Ernie Betasso were good dancers, and so was Ernie’s sister, Mable Clark. Of course, girls would often dance together. Around three o’clock in the morning, folks would be just about tuckered out and ready for breakfast before “it would be time to go home and do the chores.” Typical breakfast would be eggs, biscuits with jelly, and coffee.
Edith spoke of other fun at Pine Glade School, “We always managed to go to the dances at the schoolhouse, and do you know, we used to put on plays? We had a couple of neighbors
who just loved these school plays, especially Wesley Hetzer, who lived at the Hetzer Ranch. We put on drama or comedy where you had to memorize [your lines]. It was a lot of fun!”
(Co-authored by Lita Chase)
When Edith and Dick were younger, the Scates usually went to their grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Dick recalled, “The whole family would go to one house for Christmas Day. Of course, with only a wagon, we didn’t go very far from home. We had a sleigh, but we didn’t use it much ‘cause of the wind. You’d go someplace and by night there would be dry ground.”
Edith described what she and Dick would receive in their Christmas stockings. “Well, we got the usual candy and nuts . . . always some toys. Sometimes, there was not a great deal because we just didn’t have the money. My Dad wasn’t too keen for that anyhow.”
The family also went to the home of their Uncle Rome Wing and Aunt Pauline on County Road 68 for Thanksgiving, then they’d come to the Scates’ home for Christmas.
Edith and Dick recalled, “We didn’t often have a turkey. Usually, we had a couple of baked chickens, or something like that. Later on, we came to use turkey more, when it was easier to get.” The Scates did not raise turkeys because cattle do not like turkeys. Edith and Dick said, “We’d always have something on hand [for the holidays] in case a big snow came, which was not unheard of.”
Early on, the Scates family would generally cut a Christmas tree for the house and make their decorations. However, Edith recalled, “I so disliked chopping down a tree. You’d know that was the end of it. I used artificial quite a bit.” Edith and her Aunt Pauline used to make wreaths out of the spruce boughs. Then, the wreaths would be sold in Boulder.
After the Hendricks moved to the area in 1947, the Scates spent many holidays with them. After much of their property had been sold for development — about 1967 and forward — Dick and Edith and their mother Eva began to make friends with the newly arrived neighbors.
Lita Chase, a neighbor, recollects holiday celebrations with the Scates:
Over many years, these gatherings became a wonderful gift to the Chase Family. Lita, Gordon, John, and Angela Chase, having been adopted by Edith, Dick, and Eva into their extended group of family and friends, including Vera Wing, Rome and Pauline Wing, their good friends from Sugarloaf (May and Ernie Betasso), George and Blanche Giggey, and the Pyles of Golden (Eva, Patrick, and their sister-in-law, Annie), as well as Dick’s girlfriend (Herta Pechacek) and her young son (Bernie). All these folks were close friends of Dick and Edith and yearly celebrated Christmas, New Years Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving together at the Scates’ anch home.
Visions of Thanksgiving might include the first snow of the season as seen from their huge living room window looking out at Mount Thorodin, otherwise known as “Big Chief,” an overfed squirrel that Edith named “Fatso,” and perhaps a few cows eyeing Edith’s bean garden. Cars began to arrive about nine a.m. with all those folks bringing homemade delectables. As one walked in, cheerful voices greeted each with a hug and kiss on the cheek. Tantalizing aromas emanated from the two kitchen stoves, one a modern gas stove, the other a gas and wood burning one, where turkeys and hams and marsh mellow cinnamon sweet rolls were baking. All the ladies were whipping up potatoes or yams or setting the long table, and the men might be carving the turkeys or gathered by the wood burning stove in the parlor recounting old or new times. The little children delighted Grandma Eva and Uncle Rome with their childish ways and anticipated with wide eyes and hopeful palates the delectable dishes about to laden the welcoming table.
We need to stoke the fire. “Come on Bernie, come on John, let’s get some wood.” And out they’d go, Dick or Ernie and the boys, to fetch some kindling and store away some memories.
These noonday dinners always began with a blessing, sometimes several contributing. Food, humor and laughter was passed many times up and down the table, and there was always mounds of food left to wrap up for grateful guests to take home for tomorrow’s lunch. One could not sit at the Scates’ table and leave with anything but an overfull belly from their huge array of food, and also a nourishment of their very souls.
After dinner, the men watched a football game and chatted or snoozed if they could catch a wink, while the women chatted and cleaned up the kitchen and refrigerated the food. By the time that was done, it was time for dessert, again — pumpkin pie, ice cream, upside-down cake, coffee, tea, and more! That served, everyone settled down in the warmth of the fire and friendship for a while. Few left until late in the afternoon, but not before Edith brought out turkey sandwiches and dressing and more leftovers.
Many a holiday, if the roads were not bad, after spending the whole day at their home, Dick, Edith and a few of us would load up a couple of cars and follow the Pyles down the mountain to their home in Golden where we would finish the holiday with more food, stories, and laughter.
Holidays, or any day, at the Scates’ was home away from home. The Scates were warm, generous, and loving people of the land whose friendship and these memories are a cherished gift.
Dick and Edith fished together at Gross Reservoir. Edith told about how, “We used to work all day in the hay, and then go fishing in the evening, you know? So much ambition.” When someone offered to bait Edith’s fishing hook her retort was, “If I was going to fish, I was going to bait my own hook.”
Edith recalled, “My brother went hunting every year. I think it was more to associate with the other hunters. He wasn’t given to doing the cooking, but some of the other men did cook, and he enjoyed that. They weren’t a drinking bunch.”
Dick always endeared his family and friends by telling amusing stories such as this one:
Titus Creek follows [County Road] 68 down from Magnolia [Road]. Where the little pond is, there used to be a house. That’s where I learned to
smoke a pipe. Titus’ wife would go to Boulder in the wintertime when it’d get so cold up here. He’d stay and timber and what have you. I’d go over and keep the man company and smoke a pipe and drink his home made brew (beer). Some of it was pretty good and some of it . . . I tell you! Working there, one day in front of the cellar, I heard something boom. It sounded far off. The old man said, ‘I thought I heard somebody shoot.’ And I said, ‘I did too.’ So, I stepped out of the door, and about that time it sounded like machine guns. He’d just made a batch of brew, and it all blew up. We opened the cellar door, and you never seen so much foam in all your life!
Figure 27: The Barn and Mt. Thorodin a/k/a Sleeping Giant and Big Chief Mountain
Edith enjoyed the beauty of flowers and plants on the ranch. She especially liked the columbines she had planted by the house. The beautiful rose bush in front of her house was planted by Eva Scates from a cutting she got at the boarding house in Magnolia. Edith recalled that “Lady Birds,” which are big moths that look like hummingbirds, were attracted to the yellow rose bush in the summer. She was also proud that her honey locusts flourished, although the blossoms would last only a few days. Edith loved to take pictures of sunrises, sunsets, and rainbows. Photographing sunrises with Thorodin Mountain (Figure 27: The Barn and Mt. Thorodin a/k/a Sleeping Giant and Big Chief Mountain) in the background gave her great pleasure.
Dick reflects on the loss of wildlife in the area:
There used to be lots of bats, and then we had nighthawks. I haven’t seen a nighthawk, since I don’t know when. We used to call them bull bats ‘cause they’d go out in the evening and bawl like a cow . . . They used to live in the barns and caves in rocks. There aren’t as many places for them to be now. There used to be lots of pack rats! Every place you go, there’d be pack rats. Now, there are just enough left to chew the saddle strings off my saddle. Some animals we’d like to lose, others we’ve lost and we’d like to have back.
Those rascals [badgers]! They’ll go after one of those squirrels and dig a hole right down a foot and a half around. You’ve got to be pretty careful riding around those holes ‘cause you can break a horse’s leg. Up on the hill behind the meadow, they’ve got it mined! I haven’t seen a fresh badger work in years. I’ve had a badger chase me. I think she had some babies. She was pretty ugly. They’re not very tall, but about 3 feet long.
Edith remembered when some elk were brought into the area, and this information was verified by the Department of Wildlife. “I think they brought [about thirty-five head of elk] in from Wyoming, and turned them loose here, trying to establish a herd.”
Edith had a big place in her heart for animals. “A guy over on Gross Reservoir wanted to shoot my coyote for me. I told him, I’ve only got one and I want to keep him, and if I decide he needs shooting, I’ll do the shooting. He doesn’t bother anybody, and I sure like to watch him hunt mice. They do you a lot of good, too! They eat lots of mice, gophers and Wyoming ground squirrels [prairie dogs].”
Dick remembered more about wildlife:
There used to be quite a few bobcats, but I haven’t seen any in a long time. I used to trap bobcats up in the rocks by McGinnis’s house. When people moved in, those bobcats moved out. They don’t like civilization as much as coyotes. Bears seem to come and go. I haven’t seen where they tore up logs and turned rocks over for quite a few years.
There aren’t as many birds around as there used to be. There used to be lots of big red-tailed hawks. You see most of them in the fall when you mowed the hayfield. The hawks would come in and catch mice. In the lower big meadows, I’d see ten or twelve hawks. They’d either sit in the field and eat them, or take them away and sit on stumps and eat them.
The owls, you don’t see them much, except at night. You used to hear them all the time. For a long time, there were two horned owls that lived down there [at the barn on Pine Glade]. They wintered there every year. We’d put our calves down there after we weaned them, and we fed them down there. We’d go into the barn and if the owls didn’t think you’d seen them, they’d just whisk out so gently you wouldn’t even hear them. But, if they thought you’d seen them, they’d make the awfulist racket with their wings to scare you. They were big fellows!
Magpies have always been around here. But, these big black raven/crows, they didn’t used to be here. They got to following the troop trains during WWII, carrying soldiers. Of course, the soldiers just threw their garbage out along the tracks and the crows got to following the railroad. I guess they liked it, so they stayed.
We used to get, in the early spring, red-winged blackbirds. They would drive you crazy! And every weed in the meadow, the tall weeds, would have a blackbird nest.
Dick described how there came to be a lot of foxes around Tolland and Jenny Lynn Gulch. “Art Crow [Jerry Ward’s father] had a fox farm up on [Hwy.] 119. At the time he started, a silver fox or a black fox was very valuable. One pelt would bring $500 and that’s more than two or three head of cattle. He got to where he just started making money, and then the depression hit. The foxes weren’t worth skinning, so he turned them loose. He then went and bought the Stage Stop Inn and ran it for ten years. Not many of them foxes lived, but the ones that lived crossed, and you’ll see all kinds of funny mixes.”
Edith told how “there was a trail from New Mexico to Cheyenne that went through what used to be our lower place. We used to find arrows and artifacts left by the Indians.” Edith said some of the artifacts were studied at the University of Colorado, and it was said they dated back to about the 15th Century. Edith described, “It’s pretty hard to find a perfect arrowhead. Most of these have been shot and where they hit, why, they would break.” She further recalled “Up Jenny Creek, they’re quite a few Indian relics, ‘cause to start with that was where the Indian trail used to go from one side of the Continental Divide to the other.”
During a 1984 audiotaped car tour Edith and Dick told about their involvement in community:
Our neighbor, John Hendricks, persuaded us to join the Grange. We spent many holiday nights at the Grange Hall. The Grange is a national organization began about the time of the Civil War. They sponsor legislation and these co-ops [cooperatives]. They have all kinds of insurance. They have a good membership, but not a good attendance. The Grange Hall was north and east of Boulder. You know where the Pleasantview School is? That’s it! We’d go down there by car every other Saturday for the dances. We used to be on dance committees a lot. They haven’t had a dance out there for ten years. It’s a shame, but we got so many of those damn drunks from out of town. When we used to run the dances, alcohol was not a problem. And they had regular meetings and a ritual, you know, with officers: a president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer, and a lecturer. I [Edith] was a lecturer. Lecturers were the ones who arranged programs, and made announcements, and some things like that. Quite often we brought in outside people, usually from some farm organization.
The Grange was quite beneficial to farmers and ranchers. They really sponsored the rural mail routes. We got into quite a controversy with the U.S. Forest Service about regulations [concerning] the time you could put your cattle on [forest grass], and the time to take them off, and how many you could put on. Of course, you paid for your grazing permit! Considering the price of cattle revenues, it was expensive. While we all realize it [forest] needs management, why, they were pretty dictatorial sometimes.
The Scates were also members of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. Edith sighed with nostalgia, “Well, the ranchers got together from Gilpin, Boulder, and Jeffco [Jefferson County] for the annual picnic. There aren’t too many of the old timers left. I belonged to the Cowbells [women’s auxiliary]. Now [that] there is no cattle . . . there is no social thing [anymore].”
Dick Scates was a member of the Nederland Lions Club, which helped sponsor the Nederland Jamboree. Edith recalled, “Every summer they’d have a parade. At one time there was quite a bit of work put into it. It was quite spectacular, but was just too much work for the people who were willing to do it. They used our truck [decorated to depict hard rock drillers]. They put a large boulder on it for the miner’s hand-drilling contest. They had real Indians dancing, and a calliope playing. They had a rodeo. The corrals and arena were down by the [Barker] lake.”
Figure 28: Edith Scates - Grand Marshal of Miners’ Days Parade 1999
Photo courtesy of the Mountain Ear
After joining the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church, Edith became a familiar and admired person around town. The Mountain Ear honored her by featuring numerous biographies and news-clips about her life. In July of 1999, she was chosen Grand Marshal of the Old Timers’ and Miners’ Days parade. She wore a kelly-green straw hat and rode in a red Cadillac convertible at the head of the parade. She was ninety-one years old (Figure 28: Edith Scates - Grand Marshal of Miners’ Days Parade 1999).
Edith was earnest and thoughtful about her spiritual life. She shared this life with the congregation at the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church. She started attending this church in the early 1930s. It was shortly after she became a member, that she was baptized into the church.
Her religious beliefs were shared with and influenced by her mother, but not her father. “My dad was not a religious man. I think he was forced to attend religious schools — and he was contrary anyway — so he kind of resented it. They couldn’t smile during the Sabbath, and they couldn’t play. My mother was devoted to the church and enjoyed going. Mom always loved it from the very start.”
Edith and her mother would attend church together. They would always sit in the same pew to the right of the aisle, second row from the front. After Edith’s mother died, Edith just scooted herself over to the left and sat in her mother’s place. Her favorite hymns were “Blessed Assurance,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “Amazing Grace.” She made many good friends at the church and felt especially warm towards Lois and Brownlee Guyer.
She witnessed the congregation grow. When she first started attending church, it was small and had a minister, Ernest Betty. “We shared the minister with the Valmont church. The minister preached up here and after that he rushed as fast as he could down to Valmont and preached there. For quite some time, we shared the minister.”
She enjoyed Bible studies and talking about beliefs. We spoke once about heaven and what it must be like. She spoke sincerely and eloquently that “[Heaven] must be a place of infinite intelligence. We can’t even conceive of it.”
Edith and Dick did not share the same religious conceptions. “He always said the outdoors was his church.” Although she and many of her closest friends did not share the same beliefs, she did not take to proselytizing. She told me that people have to decide for themselves what they believe and that no good comes from trying to change them and [trying] can in fact have the opposite effect.
The ranch was a gathering place for many social and family times. One popular place to gather was in the back meadow, under a small stand of aspen trees. The view from this spot was peaceful, beautiful, and shady in the hot summer months. It has been the setting for any number of weddings and picnics, in particular, the annual picnic of Nederland Community Presbyterian Church.
The preparations would begin the Saturday before — mowing the grasses, baking, and cooking for the picnic. Early Sunday morning, trucks would arrive with tables and chairs to be set up. Soon after, the congregation would start to assemble among the aspens in the back meadow and begin their worship service, singing with the chickadees and ravens and thanking God for the beauty of their world. After the service, all would gather to feast together and to enjoy the fellowship.
Edith cherished the times on her ranch when family, friends, and neighbors would gather for celebrations. Her pleasure in being the hostess and welcoming folks to the ranch was genuine.
Figure 29 The Headstone for Richard S. (Brother) and Edith R. (Sister) Scates
In the fall of 1998, Edith Scates restricted future development rights of the ranch in perpetuity by giving a conservation easement to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. However, the underlying ownership of the property is held privately, and could change. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association will monitor the property annually to preserve this extraordinarily beautiful ranch land. Edith said, “I feel it is what Dick would have wanted.”
The conservation easement designates the area surrounding the existing ranch structures as the Ranch Building Area. These structures may be repaired, reasonably enlarged, or replaced at their current location. The 1920s house can be enlarged using western log-style timbers, but cannot exceed 4,000 square feet in total size. Another portion of the property is designated as the Caretaker Building Area that shall not be greater than five acres in size. It allows for the construction of a Caretaker Dwelling as long as it does not exceed 4,000 square feet in total size. This area would be accessed from the east through the existing Aspen Meadows Subdivision.
The Scates family, though more successful than some, was a fairly typical family from the early days on Magnolia Road. As you drive along Magnolia Road and look at the Scates’ Ranch, you will be able to bring to mind some of the daily events involving the family that lived on the ranch for over a century.
 John Feinberg, Historic Structures Report for: The Scates Homestead, (Boulder: University of Colorado at Boulder College of Environmental Design, 1991).