A Tough 100 Years And Then Some
One of the best collections written about ranching in the North Park area comes from late author, Oley Kohlman. Kohlman was an amazing gentleman who penned several books about the pioneer history of ranching in North Park, some fictional and some not. He is well known for his comic relief that graced the Jackson County Star as well in his "Whiff of Sage" column series. His historical recount of the history of the North Park Stockgrowers Association was a labor of love to Oley and one he took great pride in.
The legacy of early cowboy life sets the tone for Kohlman's anthology of ranching here in the Park. Authentic speeches shared at early day pioneer reunions to the stories of the first newcomers of North Park in 1815, the historical depiction of ranching he's portraited is intriguing. Many already know the story of how this area was referred to as the "Bull Pen" by Native Americans, but do you know where the reference of "Cow Lodge" came from? This great story of our ranching tradition also leads to the incredible legacy Kohlman spent years preserving for generations to enjoy.
One can read and find the answer to many mysteries of our mountain valley raising. The name sakes for our local communities are included, as well as pictures of cattle sale bills dating back to 1889. Historical accounts have been recalled that share not only the formation of the cattle and hay industry, but how North Park was involved in so many larger issues that shaped our great state. For instance you can find how the Meeker Massacre was so instrumental in the history of Jackson County.
Stories told in A Tough 100 Years offer a great representation of life at the time Jackson County was being settled, but the pictures are the icing on the cake. My favorite is one on page 44 where a picture of the Livery Stable stood on Main Street. Next door you can see a building that still stands today and is a vibrant piece of our modern day Main Street. Kohlman did an unbelievable job of creating a chronological order of events starting in 1899 that share the history of the Stockgrowers through 1999.
The name of the book describes North Park well from 100 years ago to modern day. It recounts the involvement of the US Forest Service, problems of wolves and range wars. It also shares the history of our local Cattlewomen, the organizing of our North Park Fair and early day rodeos. Ranching and the pioneer days of North Park have intrigued many. The beauty of this place, as well as the vast and rich natural resources have inspired many to put down roots. It lit a fire in Oley Kohlman to share his wealth of knowledge of the Park with people across the world. We are so fortunate for this gentlemen's talent and pioneer spirit that he dedicated so much energy to sharing the story of North Park ranching.
If this brief synopsis of Kohlman's book has sparked an interest in you, I encourage you to pick up a copy. The North Park Pioneer Museum has them as well as the CSU Extension and the Jackson County Library. If you can't find one still, knock on the door of any rancher in the Park and I'm sure they have one on their coffee table you would be welcome to kick up your heels and enjoy!
A Tough 100 Years, by Oley Kohlman, Copyright 2000 The North Park Stockgrowers Association
Mr. Kohlman wrote several additional books which can also be found on the North Park Pioneer Museum website. He gave me Cowboying The Way It Was and Uphill With The Ski Troops as a gift that I will forever cherish. Check out his additional works online North Park Pioneer Museum.