(We have chosen two ranches to highlight below.)
Harry McClure. At the young age of twenty-five with only an eighth grade education, Harry began composing what would ultimately become a 13,000-plus acre cattle ranch, legendary for its high country Hereford cattle.
He attended school at both the Dallas School, on the East Dallas, and the Pleasant Valley School. He stopped attending after his eighth grade year as he felt he would be more useful on the ranch. His brother also only had an eight grade education. However both of his sisters attended through the twelfth grade and continued on to business school.
As a young man he was involved with every aspect of the ranch along with his brother. When the cattle were gathered in the fall by all the local ranches in Ouray County and San Miguel County, it was his task to ride to Placerville in the afternoon to acquire the camp’s whisky for the evening. He would pad the bottles in gunnysacks and tie them across his horse for the ride back to the Mesa. Having asked him why they sent him, he would say it was because he was the only one they could trust not to drink it.
Labor Day weekend was the only time he thought it was all right to leave the ranch work undone and go to town. …The Labor Day Weekend in Ridgway was the big time of year. The town was open to gambling, along with the fair and rodeo.
He was not just a cowboy or a rancher; he was a cattleman. A cattleman by our definition is a man who not only has the skills to tend to cattle and the duties of a ranch, but he also has the civic mind to give to the community his knowledge, time and service.
He passed away in the late 1980s and later the ranch was sold. He spoke of change and how hard it was for the Indian people when the pioneers came in. He said some day more change would come and that we would have to go through change just like the Indians. He spoke of it as part of the natural process we must all go through in life. Change is inevitable.
For more about Harry McClure and other Ouray County ranching familes, please see Ranching History of Ouray County, Volume II.
Marie Scott Legendary rancher Marie Scott lived a hard – but well-loved – life. “Every morning I hit the floor at 4:30 and I don’t get back ’til ten. I work cause I like to.”
Her work ethic paid off. Displaying grit, determination, perserverance, and a strong business sense, her property ultimately stretched from where the Double RL is now all the way to the Utah border (and even a little bit beyond). Mario Zadra (now deceased), her long-time friend and ranch manager, remembered: “Trailing cattle over the Dallas to the [Lone] Cone in the spring, and back again in late October, took three days.”
Marie didn’t ask anyone to do work she wouldn’t do herself. She thought like a man – and worked like one too. When hiring a new worker, she would look at his hands first, and if she didn’t see hard-work calluses, she was not inclined to hire him. Another judgement call was belt versus suspenders: only wearing the latter could a man put in a hard day’s work.
Marie was one of a kind. Old friend Gladys Painter remembered: “She went around in her Levis and her boots and her hats and rouge all over her face. No one could ever been like Marie.”
Marie had the skill, foresight, and good sense to know that sound financial management was a key to a successful ranching operation. She was a shrewd trader, especially with the government, and extremely knowledgable about water management. (For more of Marie’s story, including details of her real estate acquisitions, see page 196, Ranching History of Ouray County, Volume II.)