Today I would like to share with you a hidden gem. One that is nestled at the foot of Mount Baldy, in a lush meadow. It is so tucked away that unless you had directions or knew the way you would not know it exists. I am referring to 31 Mile Ranch, which is a privately owned historic site and rental property. As you enter the property you are greeted by a striking Duch-colonial barn set against the backdrop of a sun-soaked valley and a modern cabin with all the high-tech amenities you could need. I had the pleasure of staying on the site and was fortunate to be able to speak to the landowner, who provided us a wealth of information about the property’s history and its potential future.
The ranch has a sorted tale complete with debutants, cowboys, and heartbreak. One that is well documented in the local newspaper and by historical records that the property owners have kept and passed down as a family heirloom. I was fortunate to be granted unprecedented access to these documents and look forward to sharing the story of 31 Mile Ranch.
The first mineral rights records on the property date back to a claim that was made in 1883. The original settlers continued to renew their mineral rights until 1942. But no major mining operation was ever developed on the land. Rather a 600-acre plot of land was homesteaded by Charles V. Corliss on June 16th, 1921.
To the best of recollections, the two-bedroom log house that stands today was built in the 1880s by the original mineral rights owners. A large 5-bedroom log house was built in the early 1900s by ranchers who leased the area from the government. The architect who built the windmill and house was an artist and builder from Colorado Springs named Benjamin Lefkowsky. The windmill that we see today is all original except for one replaced blade. It once pumped water into a tank inside the attic of the log house, supplying it with running water. The attic of the home used sawdust as insulation and unfortunately, in 1950 a hot stove pipe caught the sawdust on fire and the house burnt to the ground. Today we can still see remnants of the stove that caused the fire amongst the foundation of the home.
Before the house burnt; in 1925, Barbara Monell-Glaze purchased the ranch from Charles V. Corliss and constructed the 5-bedroom log house. Barbara was known to be a very social lady, who held dance parties once a month on the top floor of her barn. Barbara's father: Ambrose Monell, was very wealthy as he was the president of the International Nickel Co and a director of several important banks. Her father afforded her a lavish lifestyle with a $1,000 a month allowance. Which in today's currency would equate to over $15,000 a month. But Barbara shunned the glitz and glamor of her father's lifestyle in New York City, she was a self-described “Horse Woman”. Hence why she made her home at 31 Mile Ranch.
Her love of horses was a lifelong passion. She had won many ribbons in both the Western and Southern horse circuits. She described it as her favorite pastime; however, others said it was a full-time love affair. Before becoming an accomplished equestrian, when Barbara was only 16 years old, she completed a 2-mile swim in Newport. Astonishing the doubt-filled Newport elite.
Though she was not all grit-and-spit and occasionally used her wealth to indulge her decadent side. For example, when she was not enjoying her horses, she was known to drive around the county in her Rolls Royce convertible. And before moving to the ranch she lived in an exclusive Colorado Springs Resort, the Broadmoor; but more on that later.
ile frequenting the local rodeo she in-passing met Kenneth Glaze who was a rancher and rodeo performer. But they were not properly introduced until she needed a bridal (for a horse) repaired, and she found herself in Colorado Springs at Kenneth’s harness shop. During this exchange, she discovered that Kenneth was an expert horseman and romance bloomed rapidly. Interestingly, this was not her first time in his shop. Before moving to Colorado Barbara visited and brought her dogs with her. Not realizing that her dogs were required to be on a leash in the city of Colorado Springs and as a result, she found herself in Kenneth's shop. Their chance encounters were almost serendipitous as if it were a match made in the heavens.
The local paper described Kenneth as “a cowpuncher, wild west performer, and harness shop proprietor.” They went on to say, he was the picture of “physical perfection, six feet, and one-quarter inches… weighing 176 pounds. He is of the type that would fit well in a ranch picture… he is of the great brand of westerners.” Kenneth was only 13 years old when he moved from Illinois to Colorado, with his parents. He rode the ranges of South Park County for 7-years. Until he decided to drive his herd of horses 66 miles away, to Colorado Springs. Where he sold the horses and used the proceeds to purchase his harness shop. Where he remained for another three months before meeting Barbara Monell.
For a time, the couple resided in a modest first-floor apartment in Colorado Springs. The Colorado Springs Gazette peered its nose down on Barbara by saying she had undergone a “metamorphosis from gilded lobbies and refined drawing rooms to a three-room apartment and preparing her own meals with a grace that only a newlywed can muster”. However, their long-term plan was to wait until spring and move to “a ranch in Southwestern” Colorado. As Kenneth put it, he was “enthusiastic over the prospect of a free and untrammeled life in the open”.
Their relationship was watched closely by residents of the fashionable and high-end community, the Broadmoor. This is because before moving into their simple Nevada St. apartment, Barbara lived in the Broadmoor, where suiters fell upon themselves to catch her eye. She only stayed for four months at this posh location and her quick departure led to all sorts of speculation. However, the stay was always intended to be short-lived, as she was recovering from a surgery that she had undergone that fall. At the recommendation of her mother, she decided to recover in Colorado; however, to her mother’s dismay, she loved the area so much that she decided to stay permanently.
On February 21, 1928, the couple was married 5-weeks after she purchased the bridal and 3-years after Barbra having arrived in Colorado. He was 27 and she was 23 and they were said to be madly in love and to have a romance that “bloomed rapidly”. The Colorado Springs Gazette and Telegraph reported that their relationship was “love at first sight between one of New York's best-known debutants and heiress to millions and a bronzed giant cowboy of Colorado Springs”. They went on to say it “culminated in a wedding that gave Gotham something to gasp over”. The ceremony was shrouded in secrecy and only close family members attended the small gathering in the Monell home. Barbara intentionally registered for their marriage license using her Colorado Springs address rather than her New York City address, to avoid raising media attention ahead of the ceremony. It took the local paper a full 10-days before they realize and reported on the uncommon marriage.
Barbara's father had little to say regarding his daughter's choice of husband. But he did deliver an ultimatum to her on her wedding day. Reportedly saying “if she were to marry again, he would disown her”.
Shortly after their marriage, a local man named Franklin Nash recalled Barbara negotiating with his father (W. Nash) to purchase six head of registered Herford cows. According to Franklin, Barbara did not want her husband (Kenneth Wilson Glaze), to know she was purchasing the cows. That same year: in 1929, they had the Gambrel roof barn built, which stands nearly 100 years after its construction. I speculate that the purchase of the cows was an attempt to make the construction of the barn a necessity. Regardless, Barbara's ranch was very elaborate for the inter-war period in this area of Colorado, because most ranchers of the era could not afford an investment of this scale.
In a 1999 interview a local woman; Ruby Ankrum-Werley, spoke about some of her times on the ranch when she was 20 years old. Rudy had resided in Fremont County since 1931 and recalled when Barbara Glaze moved to the house on what was at the time called the “Skyline Ranch” or "Green Mountain Ranch". Ruby attended Barbara’s housewarming party in 1934. During the party, one guest spilled a glass of wine on another guest. Without hesitation, Barbara took them to her closet and told the wine-soaked guest to choose any dress they like. It was a gift to the guest; however, Barbara had little need for the multitude of fancy dresses that she owned. This is because she never wore them. Ruby stated that Barbara preferred to wear trousers and men’s style lace shoes. She elaborated by saying, “in the 1930’s women always wore long dresses, so Barbara Glaze was quite a gossip among the local women”.
Nearby newspapers reported on the housewarming party and the home, saying, “the beautiful mountain home of Mrs. Barbara Monell-Glaze… The home built of logs was recently completed and opened at the housewarming to which many Canon City people were invited. The home contains 11 rooms and three baths. A two-car garage in the basement houses her Rolls-Royce and Auburn cars”. In other words, this house sported a size and amenities that were not common in most American homes at that time. 18-20 years after its construction, in the 1950s, it was common to see homes of this size, with attached garages. I suppose Barbara had Architectural tastes that were ahead of her time. The home she built was in sharp contrast to the other homes in Guffey Colorado. It was described as “the finest of its kind in the state”. She made a splash with the locals by bringing her own breed of Park Avenue flair to Southern Colorado.
The article went on to describe an immense living room with two fireplaces, plush leather seats, and built-in bookshelves. The walls were lined with fine beads and animal skins. But this was not what Barbara choose to showcase during the interview, she led the reporters to the front entrance. Where just outside sat her dog kennels and an opportunity to share with the community another one of her hobbies, raising huskies/sled dogs.
This housewarming party was just the first of a regular series of ‘open houses’, or what we would call today, house parties. Residents from the area were said to dance the night away and eat what was called a “midnight lunch”. Or in other words, they partied all night and had a late-night meal. Barbara’s party dress was described as “Canon City Trousers, a shirt open at the neck, Indian moccasins, and a jaunty tam (or beret)”. Her close friends would joke that she was just a “regular guy”.
Unfortunately, the romance and good times did not last, and they were divorced in 1931. The headlines read, “Marriage of Heiress and Harness Maker May End in Divorce Court”. However, to get divorced at that time was not that easy, especially for a woman. This is because the accuser was required to prove they had grounds for divorce. Which in most cases came down to a case of he-said-she-said. There was no guarantee that the courts would grant a divorce. It’s no wonder so many people who faced a lengthy, arduous, and uncertain divorce opted to go to Reno Nevada. Where they advertised themselves as the “divorce capital of the world”. This is because they had an expedited divorce system, that after only 6-weeks of residency, they could rubber-stamp a divorce in minutes. Fortunately for Barbara, had the means and wherewithal to establish residency in Reno. In March of 1931, she announced that she intended to establish residency in Reno for the purpose of initiating a divorce.
The firstborn son of Kenneth, Kenneth Richard Glaze; recalled in a 1999 interview that Barbara gave the ranch to his father after the divorce in 1932. But according to his recollection, his father lost the land one year later to what he called “fraud paperwork by Colorado Springs lawyers”. His last recollection of Barbra was that “she was living off on Highway 115” with a new lover, “Bob Ford”. He went on to say that “they may or may not have been married”. Which I can imagine only added fuel to the townsfolks' gossip and the Manhattan-based scandal.
However, it seems the fraudulent paperwork that Kenneth R. Glaze recalled was legitimate. This is because shortly after the divorce Barbara Glaze sold the ranch to Jim Luthi on October 22nd, 1932. Meaning; Kenneth W. Glaze would have been evicted from the land.
During the same year, an unlikely friendship was started between Barbara, and a young lady named Cleota Dunbar-Bell. The friendship blossomed rapidly and added to the townsfolks’ speculation that Barbara was a homosexual. To add to the evolving town scandal Cleota was only 18 years old and Barbara was 32 years old, literally twice Cleota’s age. Regardless of the locals’ suspicions that was a large age gap for a friendship or relationship, especially at that time. Cleota had attended Barbara’s barn dances multiple times and had been acquainted with Barbara for some time. Even though Cleota had spent several nights visiting with people in the “big log house” she did not find herself in the same social circles as Barbara.
They were not formally introduced until Barbara moved to Canon City and began shopping at the Canon City drugstore, where Cleota worked as a clerk. Barbara had become a regular at the store after having purchased a home on the corner of 7th and Main (in Canon City). Cleota recalled Barbara pulling up to the drugstore in her Rolls Royce, being freshly divorced, and being the “talk of the town”. On December 28th, 1932 Cleota was married to a man named George Bell and her friendship with Barbara faded as the time came to pass. Little was heard of Barbara Glaze in Guffey or Canon City after this. She did resurface, for a time, in Denver Colorado. She was remarried and Barbara’s father kept his word and disowned her. Unfortunately, she was last seen in 1935 driving a beer truck in Denver.
31 Mile Ranch found its way into the hands of a man named John Robinson, who owned the ranch for much of the 1940s. He held parties for school children in the barn. In a 1998 interview one of the students, Rose May White; talked about her times on the ranch, as a 6-year-old who attended his parties. She mentioned a time when a friend of hers fell from a horse and broke her pelvis. Shortly after this incident, the ranch was sold for a time to a gentleman named Louis Greer. It was during his tenure on the land, where we lost the home built by Barbara Monell-Glaze.
Later in 1950; the ranch was acquired by Wilbur and Larraine Sigler. They Purchased 3,000 acres for $10 per acre. This purchase equates to $335,097 in today’s currency, which even with that lens on is a particularly good deal. The 5-room log building that was built by the original settlers served as a temporary bunkhouse for the Sigler’s. It remained this way for a decade, until 1960; when Wilbur Sigler had the existing and modern house built by a man name, Mr. Lafferty. The house features a stately, yet rugged fireplace that was handcrafted with local field stones, by a gentleman named Wilbur Earhart. The home is built with a traditional tongue and groove log cabin style and the timber came from the nearby town of Howard Colorado. The home was powered by a modest 110-volt Onan Generator that sat in a shed behind it. It was supplied water by a spring that sat just a quarter-mile up Paris creek. Three years later Wilbur commissioned local men; Bob and Don Ankrum to construct a pond outside the front door of the cabin. Setting the tone for a picturesque mountain retreat that remains in place to this day. Wilbor and Lorane lived in the house during the summer months, where they raised cattle. During the winter, the home and ranch were left to the elements as the Sigler’s returned to their Permanent home in Boone Colorado. The couple sold the land in 1977 and continued to lease the ranch until 1989.
Eventually, 31 Mile Ranch and its surrounding lands were acquired by the Bureau of Land Management. This is where it remained for 7-years until late 1999 when Mr. R.W. "Curley" Reynolds acquired the property through a land swap with the Bureau of Land Management. Upon receiving a grant from the State Historical Fund in 2000 and providing a 50% cash match, he undertook a majority of the repair and restoration work on the barn, the windmill, and log cabin. The exterior cladding of the barn was repaired, new wood shingles were installed on the barn and cabin. Additionally, the ground around the barn and cabin was regraded for better drainage. The windmill was repaired by replacing a single blade. Additional labor was provided by the Park County Historical Society, which gave considerable effort to this project.
Today the home, bunkhouse, and surrounding property is a rental location. Popular with hikers, photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, and people who are looking to escape the busyness of their day-to-day. The beautiful landscape combined with the old-world-ranch charm makes 31 Mile Ranch one of the most authentic Colorado experiences you can have. If you are looking to step back in time and get away from it all, I highly recommend booking a trip to 31 Mile Ranch. You can find information on how to book your mountain get-a-way using the links below:
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The former townsite of Apex Colorado is nestled into a shadowy, narrow, and windswept valley. Only a few of the city's buildings remain today and few people come to visit. It’s best viewed after the winter snow melts off the roads and Pine Creek is flowing behind the former main street. April or May is an ideal time to avoid snow and for viewing wildflowers and wildlife.
During my visit I spoke to an elderly gentleman who claimed to be the last resident of Apex; however, he also gave me instructions for the best places and methods for BigFoot viewing. He is the self-proclaimed mayor and sees himself as the watchmen of the land. Considering the source, he did have some interesting facts about modern-day Apex that were not cryptozoology related and was able to show me some of the gems in this hidden valley. Today I would like to share with you some of what he showed us during our journey while expanding upon the history of Gilpin County Colorado and Apex.
When making your way up Apex Valley road and entering the townsite you will see very few buildings but will notice the tree line has been pushed further away from the road. Giving way to lush meadows and a view of Pine Creek. While it may not seem like it, you have entered the former city. With the exception of several buildings, the Meadows are all that marks the land where Apex Colorado stood. Today it can be hard to imagine over 1,000 settlers living in this valley. The valley is not very hospitable with the aid of modern technology, let alone over a century ago.
One of the most noticeable buildings is a swaying false-fronted building. This building boasts a large brass medallion that lists it as the first site (Site #001) in the Gilpin County Historical Society Register. The Juxtaposition of the new and heavy brass affixed to an old and fragile building is striking. The marker indicates a desire by this organization to preserve the structure. And this is made evident by the temporary buttresses that have been added to brace the building from falling. Many people would look at this structure and assume that it cannot be saved. However; I have seen larger and worse off structures that have been brought back from this condition. You can see an example of a similar building being brought back from the brink in my Ohio City video and vlog. That said; this particular structure in Apex Colorado served as a hotel and boarding house during the city's boom period, the 1890’s.
The area was first prospected by, Richard Mackey in the 1870s when he stumbled on an outcropping of gold. Shortly after his claim was sold, and resold until a man named “Mountz” purchased the claim as a partner. In need of money, Mackey sought a partner and found it in Mountz. After clearing out the easiest to reach gold and making $30,000, Mackey vanished. Shortly thereafter Mountz ran out of money again and began to live in squalor. Weary and upset, he planted his last two sticks of dynamite at the mine opening with the intention of closing it off. The next morning as he ate his last bit of food and prepared to leave, he noticed the shattered pile of debris from his explosion was all gold ore and behind the ore-pile was an exposed vein of Gold. Mountz once again stumbled onto Gold, but this time he found an extremely rich vein of Gold. This claim became known as the “Pine Mining District''. This load was the largest acquisition in the area and produced ore at a value of $1,800 a ton. Which in today's value would equate to $110,500 a ton. Mackey’s find continued to produce ore and it justified the creation of a mill in the town, this was a rarity for a community of this size.
The Colorado Bureau of Mines; in a 1919 report, describes the community of the Apex mines:
“The Pine Mining District, six miles north of Central City, is where the Evergreen Mines Company properties are located. During the fall and winter of 1917 and 1918, they erected a 100-ton flotation mill, which is equipped with electric power. This company gives employment to a great number of men year-round. The Pennsylvania and Colorado Mining Tunnel and Milling Company's mines and mills are located in this district and several other smaller properties.”
With such valuable ore, the mining camp quickly blossomed into a city and was established as a town in 1891. It’s worth noting that this was 30-years after the nearby communities of Central City and Nevadaville were established. This means that many prospectors combed through these mountains during the Gregory Gulch Goldrush and were not able to find gold. But thanks to the patience of Mountz, Apex continued to grow until the early 1900s.
A small cluster of cabins and sandy streets is all that remains of a once-bustling metropolis that served as the Capital of the Pine Creek Mining District. A newspaper from the nearby town of Idaho Springs reported throughout the boom years and produced several photos of the town's construction. At its peak, it featured over 80 businesses downtown and housed over 1,000 residents in the surrounding community. Although the railway never made it to town, several stagecoach lines ran from Nevadaville and Black Hawk. The stage line brought with them a daily stream of mail; which was a luxury for most mining communities. They had several saloons, a dance hall, grocery store, hotels, a schoolhouse, and eventually, its own post office. It operated intermittently from 1894 to 1932.
The districts’ mining companies were well represented on the main street, with multiple offices dotting the street. By 1897 the town achieved its next milestone by producing its own weekly newspaper, called “The Apex Pine Cone”. The first volume was printed on July 3rd, with the intention of the first run being ready to read on Independence Day (July 4th).
Like many of the communities in this mining district, it did not have a cemetery of its own. Rather they choose to inter their residents in the nearby Central City Cemetery. Which created a massive set of cemetery plots in the nearby town of Central City. Despite being a substantial mining town, the lack of a cemetery makes it difficult to discover details of the town and its citizens. Unfortunately, some of the most interesting details of this wealthy mining town are lost to history.
It took its architectural secrets and history to the grave when Apex lost large swaths of buildings over the course of two separate wildfires. Much of the business district was destroyed and we are left with only the open meadows we see today. The residential areas of town have been reclaimed by the woods and are mostly collapsed. Except for a handful of cabins, illegal mining operations, and homes.
Apex is mostly abandoned, with the exception of the aforementioned “Mayor” and his “visiting kin”. I had the pleasure of speaking with the Mayor and although it was hard to get a word-in with him, I was able to get his permission to record our conversation. This was of course only if I agreed to hear him out about his tall tales of espionage, Nicola Tesla’s ongoing work in Colorado, radio waves in his teeth, and his uniquely insane worldviews. As you might be guessing, this man is as crazy as they come but is generally harmless and well-intentioned. He is extremely verbose and can be found on the top of Elk Park road in a set of trailers that are surrounded by snowmobiles and ATVs. Do not seek him out, but if you are lucky enough to meet him and decide to engage with him in conversation, be prepared to spend 20-30 minutes chatting.
While the Mayor is about as friendly of a schizophrenic as you’ll find, his dog, “Dummass”, is not. This white Pyrenees dog guards the mayor and his property with extreme prejudice. He feels like it is his job to direct traffic and he personally owns the road. Don’t be surprised if Dummass attempts to herd you or your vehicle away from the Mayor's property.
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