Meet our current board members who are helping to define and grow our mission statement as volunteers. Each and every individual person brings different skills to our board. We look forward to meeting you at the museum or on location throughout our community as we continue to preserve, educate and share in our rich ranching heritage.

Joan Chismire, President

Joan, a Colorado native, thoroughly enjoys connecting with the community of ranching families in and around Ouray County. She fell in love with Ridgway after marrying her husband, Kevin, who had purchased and built a vacation home here in the early 1980’s. After retirement from the military in late 2001, Joan, Kevin and their young family moved to their home in Ridgway and became involved with the schools and with several non-profit groups.  Joan developed an admiration for ranching after spending all her summers at her grandfather’s homestead ranch in South Dakota as a young girl. Shortly after settling in Ouray County, she joined together with a handful of  others to collect oral histories from families of the ranching community. The non-profit ranch history museum was created in 2006 after the publications of oral history books were produced and a wish for a ranch museum was made. She is one of the founding board members and has been volunteering on the Board for 13 years. She brings a love of history and family stories to the museum as part of her desire to preserve the valley’s ranch heritage. During her time in Ridgway, Joan has been on multiple community boards (Mt. Sneffel’s Education Foundation, Ridgway Community Pride, Ridgway Creative District). In addition to leading the effort to support ranchers looking to preserve their family history, she shares that sense of community, neighbors helping neighbors mentality, which she finds important and fulfilling.


We applaud her for her efforts as she guides the Board to its future expansion and intended preservation goals. Come join the museum for a thrilling ride and volunteer!

Elaine Brown, Treasurer

She was born in Ridgway and raised there until she became 17 years old. She married Gary Brown from Montrose in 1966.  She worked her entire adult life in Durango, CO where she also graduated with a B.A. in Accounting at Fort Lewis College in 1988.  Her ensuing career focused on finance and bank accounting where she worked for twenty-four plus years. She also partnered with Gary in his small businesses for forty-two years.


In 2012, she and Gary retired to Arizona.  Given the heat in summer, it didn’t take long to know they needed to move “back home”.  So, they were blessed with an opportunity to move to Montrose, Colorado in 2015 and they plan to keep it as their permanent home.


Her focus now is all about being involved with Ridgway and giving back.  Her Hockley grandparents were homesteaders and her parents were Lyle and Martha Hockley Barrett.  The Barretts built the original Texaco Gas Station at the corner of Highway 550 and 62 along with the Cabazon Cabins in the 1930’s.  Lyle and Martha built the Sunset Corner, which replaced the Cabazon’s with a small motel and added a café and welding shop in addition to a new Texaco Station from the 40’s to the 60’s.  Growing up on the Corner in Ridgway, knowing all the ranching families and making lifetime friends is the essence of her entire life. She joined the Board in mid-2016 as Treasurer of the museum in the hopes that she can contribute to and preserve the history of the Ridgway area, because it belongs to her family heritage.

Karen joined the Board in 2013. She represents the 50% ownership on the Board that belongs to ranching family members. Her family owns the Fournier Ranch that is preserved under the Colorado Centennial Ranch Preservation. Having grown up on a ranch in the Ridgway valley, Karen brings authenticity with her "voice" by guiding us with her memories of growing up in this valley. Karen is the thread to our colorful cloth as she interweaves and tells the real stories of the valley's ranch heritage. Her insight is invaluable to our preservation and education of future generations.
Lanah HuTt, Rancher
Lanah joined the Board in 2014, bringing her cowgirl attitude with real-life experiences to the Board. She is the rancher among us who continues to raise cattle and horses on her ranch in Montrose County. Lanah spent her childhood learning the ins and outs on her family's ranch in Ridgway. Lana guides us to ensure we stay authentic to the history and lifestyle of our ranching heritage.
Ken LIPton, Rancher

Ken has been part of the Board since 2018. He loves to work with fellow board members to ensure that the ranching history of the area is preserved for future generations. He became a board member because OCRHM is a valuable and important project for the Ouray County community. He brings business, marketing, agricultural and organizational experience, and extensive volunteer work to the museum board. He has served on the County Planning Commission and several county advisory boards. He has been president of Shavano Conservation District serving Ouray County and he serves on the Right to Farm Agricultural Review Board.


Family ranching is rapidly disappearing.  He feels that future generations need to know and understand that the pioneers and those that came after were an important part of the economic and social development of the county. By preserving his own ranch that he and Carol bought in Ouray County after moving there from Paterson, NJ in 1999, he hopes to preserve the county's ranch heritage. They settled there as part of their dream to retire to a place where they can live amid natural beauty and enjoy a rural lifestyle.  They raise registered Angus cattle and primarily sell breeding stock, bulls and heifers.


What he has hoped the patrons will pick up from their museum experiences is an understanding of historical ranching operations and knowledge of the ranch families that played such an important role in the rich history of Ouray County.

I joined the Ranch History Museum board in 2019.
And one of the things I like doing is working on old tractors. So when one comes in here, I love the challenge to get it running if possible.
I lived on a dairy farm in Wisconsin during the 50’s. I love this old equipment; I worked on it when I was a kid.
And one of the things I really enjoy about volunteering here is meeting people from all walks of life and from everywhere. I really enjoy talking about how life was in the 1900s and (hearing about) their experiences with all the equipment or the old washing machines. I love doing that.
Open PositionS
We are currently looking for additional Board members to join our museum in an effort to grow into the future. We are looking for volunteers with an educational, banking and philanthropic background. If you are interested, please contact Joan Chismire directly at her phone number, 970-316-1085, for an interview.