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Frontier Diary

Willa SoncartyRegistrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical SocietyThis engraving from the Avalanche Echo Special Edition newspaper of May 1893 shows Morrisania Ranch near Parachute. Morrisanias founder, P. Randolph Morris, came to Colorado in the late 1880s, establishing a large cattle ranch. In addition to his service as Garfield County commissioner, he was instrumental in obtaining a rural mail route for Parachute, was endorsed for the position of game warden and was district representative for the local forest reserve.
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Four miles southeast of Parachute was a place called Morrisania Ranch. From Morrisania, the ranch’s founder, P. Randolph Morris, could enjoy the grand views of the Bookcliffs, Battlement Mountain, and the shimmering waters of the Colorado River 1,000 feet below. Morrisania was truly paradise.How Morris found this spot in Colorado is a mystery. Morris, a native of Morrisania, N.Y., came from one of the most aristocratic families in the United States. A great-uncle, Lewis Morris, had been a signer of the Declaration of Independence and had proposed establishing the federal capital at Morrisania, N.Y. His great-grandmother was related by marriage to President Thomas Jefferson.P. Randolph Morris came to western Colorado in the late 1880s with plenty of capital. With his affluence he established a true gentleman’s ranch – 500 acres – initially dedicated to the production of cattle. A broad, tree-lined avenue ushered visitors into the estate. A bunkhouse, storehouse, stable, and wagon and farm implement storage barn were built on the grounds. A large reservoir provided recreational opportunities. Bridle paths and groves of shade trees gave respite from the summer heat. His elegant house was modern for its time and included a conservatory, servant room and billiard room. The home was heated with hot water and was furnished to reflect Morris’ refined style.By 1889, after having established Morrisania Ranch, Morris entered into politics. He was elected to two terms as county commissioner. Upon leaving office in 1895, he received high praise for his sensible handling of the county’s financial affairs.Morris expanded his holdings and planted orchards. In 1898 he incorporated the Morrisania Fruit and Land Co. Small parcels of land were sold to individuals in order that others may own land and endeavor in farming and fruit growing. A promotional brochure entitled “Morrisania, the Home of Better Fruit,” enticed settlers to Morrisania Mesa.Morris married Louisa Hughes on July 14, 1906, and moved to Denver where he resided until his death sometime after 1930. However, his gentleman’s estate provided homesteading opportunities to many desiring to call Garfield County home.”Frontier Diary” is provided to the 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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