Family 4th still on for Rock Ledge Ranch

       Although Rock Ledge Ranch is currently closed as a precaution for the Waldo Canyon Fire, Manager Andy Morris said this week that the historic site's annual Family Fourth event is still on.
       “I've got to believe we will have it,” he said, with an optimism that included not pulling a paid ad for the event in this week's Westside Pioneer. “Hope-fully, they'll get done with this fire soon.”
       The 230-acre, city-owned facility off Gateway Road at 30th Street has been closed since noon June 23, when the fire was becoming visible in the hills west of the Garden of the Gods.
       Family Fourth is scheduled Wednesday, July 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Similar to past years, it will have historical reenactors as Abraham Lincoln (reading the “Gettysburg Address”), as Katharine Lee Bates (reading “America the Beautiful”) and as George Washington. Patriotic music will be played by the Fountain Creek Brass Band, an encampment will illustrate the gear and lifestyles of Civil War and Revolutionary War soldiers. Children's activities will include carnival games in the barn, a candy “scramble,” wagon rides and watermelon-eating contests.
       Admission is $8 for adults, with discounts for seniors and children and no charge for active military and ages 5 and under.
       Also, all the historical areas on the property will be open, the ad states.
       As a current precaution, Morris has taken the ranch's five horses to barns at the Norris-Penrose Event Center at 1045 Lower Gold Camp Road.
       The center took the horses, along with large animals from other fire-evacuation areas, through a contract the center has with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office in case of emergencies, according to Julie Baxter, a volunteer with that office.
       The barns are called “special event barns,” meaning they are typically used only when rodeos and other horse events come to Norris-Penrose. There should not be a conflict with the Ride for the Brand Working Cowboys Rodeo Saturday, June 30 because sufficient stable space still exists for that event, Baxter said.
       Morris and his foreman, John Winters, plan to go back to Norris-Penrose daily to exercise the steeds.
       As for the other ranch animals, the chickens have gone elsewhere, and a trailer is “on hold” in case the cows, sheep and pigs need to be moved, Morris said. The geese don't actually belong to the ranch and, if a fire did come, “a smart duck would go out to the middle of the lake and ride out the storm,” he said.
       The ranch as a whole is as ready as possible for the worse-case scenario. “We've got any valuable items out of the homes and important records off-site,” Morris said. Also relocated is the restored old-time sprinkler wagon. As for the historically restored houses, “If I could pick them up, I would, because they're the most valuable things at the ranch.”

Westside Pioneer article