Glenwood Springs’ Margaret Morgan’s passion was horses, and she rode them for 86 years
May 8, 2013
The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible.
— Judith Regan
At the age of 92, lifelong Glenwood Springs resident Margaret Morgan put pen to paper and wrote her autobiography. In her straightforward style, she talked about her family, her life and her biggest passion — horses. Through her book, "As Near As I Can Remember — My Life History," she recounted her life in a mere 38 pages, but her words spoke volumes about her life in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Morgan was born Oct. 13, 1896, on Divide Creek near New Castle. She was the oldest daughter and second child of Louis and Annie Reynolds. In time, Louis and Annie's family would grow to six children, and Margaret was close with her siblings.
Life on the Reynolds' Divide Creek ranch centered on horses, and Louis loved to ride and hunt. It was on a hunting trip that he discovered a beautiful valley on Three Mile Creek. He filed a homestead for about 140 acres in 1903 and brought his family. Morgan recalled, "I still remember slowly moving up that steep rocky hill. The team of horses was straining to move the heavily loaded wagon. When we came over the top of the hill in sight of that beautiful valley, we were all spellbound. There was a large meadow with a spring in the center. The grass was as high as the horses' knees. On one side of the meadow was a large grove of aspen trees. On the east side was a mesa."
With singing birds, wild columbines and roses, and the hard work she did daily on the Reynolds ranch and dairy farm on Three Mile Creek, Morgan declared that her time there was the happiest of her life. She received her first horse at the age of 4 and rode daily to school in Cardiff and Glenwood Springs.
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Morgan graduated from Garfield County High School in 1916. On May 6, 1917, she married Guy Erval Roberts in Glenwood Springs. Their daughter, Catherine, was born in March 1918. For most of her marriage to Guy, they lived near Edwards. She not only did the household duties, but also packed head lettuce raised by her neighbor, drove a horse-pulled bull rake during haying season, and cooked for the haying crews. She, Guy and Catherine moved to Silt in the early 1920s, where she picked up schoolchildren on Silt Mesa in her "bus" — a wagon and a team of horses. It was while living in Silt that her marriage ended in divorce.
On June 1, 1926, Margaret married Raymond Morgan, who she met while working for John C. Osgood and his wife at Redstone. Ray worked in area coal mines while Margaret got sporadic work dude ranching and cooking for hunting camps. In 1933 she was hired to deliver seven head of horses to government surveyors, riding 238 miles in a week — alone and armed — to make the delivery. In the late 1930s she was hired by New York stockbroker George Sumers, who owned the property at today's Glenwood Park, to ride with his children and guests, maintain his stable, and select and care for his horses.
Margaret and Ray lived for more than 50 years in a log house they built near Glenwood Park. You would think this would be the end of their story. But it isn't.
Margaret's last horseback ride was at the age of 90. She stopped when arthritis made it too difficult to climb into the saddle. She and Ray eventually moved to today's Grace Health Care facility, where Ray passed away on Dec. 25, 1999 at the age of 98. Margaret continued through the years to receive guests even as her eyesight faded and her hearing diminished. On Sept. 6, 2003, Margaret passed away, about a month short of her 107th birthday.
"It is not worth the effort to put the saddle on if you don't ride at least 20 miles," Margaret was overheard to say. Every day of her 106 years, Margaret lived that philosophy.
Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. "Frontier Diary," which appears the first Tuesday of every month, is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.