The history of Eagle County stretches far before 1962, that famous year when the Vail ski area got its start. Virtually simultaneously, mining and ranching brought settlers to Colorado in the mid to late 19th century–spurred on by the arrival of the railroads. Ranching in Colorado was not without tragedy and hardship.
In order to make ranching viable, we learned from Western Colorado University professor Duane Vandenbush, the buffalo and the Native Americans had to be removed. Sheep and cattle operations were often at odds, sometimes violently. And weather extremes could wipe out entire herds. Despite all this, ranches continue to exist in Eagle County to this day.
Former Eagle County rancher turned ranching and agriculture industry lobbyist, Danny Williams discussed the modern ranching industry and recent mechanisms, such as conservation easements to allow ranch land to remain open and unspoiled. As all our speakers acknowledged, ranchers have always been keen stewards of the land.
Following this fascinating and entertaining program, audience members were able to view paintings and photography of Eagle County ranches by the Vail Valley Art Guild.