Devereux brothers made an agricultural experiment out of West Glenwood | PostIndependent.com

Devereux brothers made an agricultural experiment out of West Glenwood

Frontier Diary
Willa Kane
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical SocietyElk at the Devereux Ranch, ca. 1905. From the 1890s until about 1908 the Devereux Brothers owned a large expanse of land in West Glenwood Springs. Used for agricultural purposes, one of the ranch's attractions was a herd of elk kept at an elk ranch located near the mouth of Mitchell Creek.
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“And that’s why I sing the praises of the Devereux Brothers – they did not take up a homestead out in California – they spent a lot of good silver dollars right at home.”

– “Saga of Memories,” George Gibbons Hayes, Glenwood Post, Feb. 23, 1928

When Walter Devereux and his brothers, James and Horace, invested their time and money into the development of Glenwood Springs, they had more on their minds than profit. For the Devereux brothers, the vast expanses of undeveloped land to the west of Glenwood Springs seemed to provide unlimited agricultural possibilities.

While Walter purchased the Pray Ranch at what is today known as Glenwood Meadows, his brothers purchased several hundred acres directly across the Colorado River in what is known today as West Glenwood. Brother Horace, a strong promoter of agriculture, advocated the planting of crops as unique as Horace himself.

In the 1890s the Devereuxs purchased hundreds of young apple and pear trees for their newly established orchard. Irrigation water from Mitchell Creek nourished a large alfalfa field. With the sport of polo a Devereux passion, a pasture kept and fed numerous polo ponies. As sportsmen, the Devereuxs developed fishing ponds along Mitchell Creek. The wooded shady creek itself allowed for the importation of several elk for the establishment of an elk ranch.

As the years progressed, the Devereux Ranch attracted tourists staying at the Hotel Colorado. For many tourists, undoubtedly this would be their only encounter with an elk. For some, the fragrant apple and pear blooms in the spring uplifted spirits held down by winter dreariness.

This agricultural endeavor required management. At the turn of the 20th century, passionate farmer Frank Selhorst oversaw the crops produced at the Devereux Ranch. He also introduced a new experiment to the ranch – celery. However, the crop failed when, as George Gibbons Hayes recalled, “The frosts sent down by the old man of the mountain, old Storm King himself, would put a crimp in the experiment and Mr. Selhorst would survey the frost bitten celery tops in somber mood.”

Not long afterward, blight set in on the pear trees, blackening the leaves. The apple trees likewise had outlived their usefulness. Hayes, whose family lived adjoining the Devereux Ranch, had played on the grounds and observed the ranch come to maturity and end. With horse teams, he and others extracted the dying trees from the ground.

By 1908 the Devereuxs’ agricultural experiment ended. The large tract of land in today’s West Glenwood was sold by the brothers in small parcels to those seeking to own a little farmland of their own.

“And so the past glory to the old Devereux ranch has dimmed,” wrote Hayes. “The vision and faith of the Devereux Brothers, who saw possibilities in sage brush, cactus and scrub oak lands, and visionized an Empire in the making. It was the likes of them that made the great Western Slope of Colorado great.”

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. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.


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