Sunday, January 14, 2007

Jack Shoe Ranch

We set out a bit late today with our friends Larry & Jean with the intent of trying a road marked as a "Jeep Trail" on the map...uh huh...can't trust those maps. The road started out fairly good, passing Jack Shoe Ranch, some rocks to traverse, some ditches to cross, just the kind of thing a Jeep was designed to do. Then as we progressed, we could see a canyon ahead, as we drove on further, the "Jeep Trail" quickly became something more designed for a Mountain Goat. The trail headed along the edge of a very deep canyon and became tippy, off camber, and downright Jean and I were protesting loudly, it was decided to cut the trip short and turn around ...whew...that's a sigh of relief. After some stealthy maneuvering, Larry and Ralph got the Jeeps turned around (try turning around on the edge of a canyon sometime...yikes)! and we headed back from whence we came.
We stopped at Jack Shoe Ranch to catch our breath and while Larry and Ralph were chatting about the Jeeps, Jean and I decided to crawl under the locked gate leading to Jack Shoe Ranch and go take a look around. What a neat place! Not much can be found about its history, we've heard that it was connected with Sunset Mine, it's located at the base of the mountain that Sunset Mine is located on.  (see earlier post on Sunset Mine) and now it's apparently used only as an occasional weekend retreat by the fortunate owners. Jack Shoe looks like something cut from the pages of history of the old west. There's a bunkhouse, small ranch house, several outbuildings and a general feeling of a once busy working ranch. It's located on the edge of a steep canyon with the canyon walls rising behind the ranch like a huge stone sentry. You can imagine the inhabitants felt reasonably secure from surprise Indian attacks, only having to guard the entry road because the natural terrain would protect them from sneak attacks. Peering through the windows was like looking back in time, the inside was furnished by period pieces, old iron beds, antique cabinets and wood burning stoves. I can imagine the lady of the house ringing the dinner bell on the front porch calling the ranch hands and miners to feast on homemade bread and beans. Scattered here and there throughout the property were saddles, ropes, branding irons and steer skulls.
We can only speculate on the hardships these people endured, but it's nice to take the time to ponder it all.