Tommy loved horses, people and the great outdoors |

Tommy loved horses, people and the great outdoors

By Willa Soncarty

Registrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum

Tommy had a warm smile and an open heart. She loved horses, the freedom of the outdoors, the rugged beauty of the back county and the companionship of people. She put all of these passions together to make successful trail rides.

Tommy Thomson was born Pearl Etta Ellis in 1894. Her mother, who was a passionate horsewoman, introduced the infant Tommy to the joys of riding.

As Tommy grew, she gained confidence tending to cattle and horses on the family’s large Telluride ranch. Horses served as her transportation to and from classes at the nearest one-room school.

In 1916, Tommy married Rich Thomson, a man sharing her passion for horses.

The couple moved to Glenwood Springs in 1923 where Tommy taught riding at the Hotel Colorado and Rich worked for the U.S. Forest Service. They and their sons later operated Thomson’s Horse Haven, “Outfitters for Trail Riders of the Wilderness.”

In conjunction with the American Forestry Association, on Aug. 2, 1938, the Thomsons began a 14-day trail ride to what is now the Maroon Bells-Snowmass wilderness. Fifteen camp assistants, 80 horses and 30 guests soaked in the sights of Ashcroft, Cathedral Lake, Taylor Pass, the Maroon Bells, the Crystal River, Avalanche Creek and Snowmass.

Of the 30 guests, two-thirds were women and nearly all were from the eastern United States.

It was the western hospitality shown by Tommy to her guests that made her annual trail rides legendary for the next two decades.

Horses, wilderness and beauty. Tommy Thomson blended all of her passions to give hundreds of visitors a lifetime of memories.

“Frontier Diary” is provided to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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