Fourth draws families to Rock Ledge

       Despite an afternoon rainstorm that cut into the crowd totals just a bit, Rock Ledge Ranch manager Andy Morris described the historic site's annual Family Fourth as successful and well-attended.

Perched on a wagon that was recently added to the Rock Ledge Ranch vehicles, “Bloomer girl” Rachel Tomaselli (a ranch volunteer portraying Julia Archibald during the Family Fourth) directs visitors’ gazes to distant Pikes Peak, which Archibald climbed in 1858 – the first recorded women ever to do so.
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       He estimated that 1,800 to 2,000 visited the city-owned site for the Fourth; last year's event, in perfect weather, drew 2,000-plus.
       The seven hours (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) of festivities featured speakers, bands, games, historical impersonators (such as William Palmer and Abraham Lincoln), and demonstrations of old-time skills . “The rain held off as long as it could,” Morris said. “It would have been nice if it waited till 5, but when it came about 2:30 p.m., people went inside and enjoyed themselves.”
       The Rock Ledge website (rockledgeranch.com) elaborates that during the rain “people gathered in the barn where there were plenty of carnival games and prizes or on the front porch of the Rock Ledge House where there was live music.”
       A new feature this year was a covered wagon that was recently made for the ranch and was used to augment presentations by Rachel Tomaselli and Beth Harmon (alternately playing 1858 “bloomer girl” Julia Archibald). The words “Pikes Peak or Bust” have been inked onto the wagon canvas by Jeff Cahill, a professional sign painter who volunteers with the ranch, Morris said.

Katharine Lee Bates (portrayed by volunteer Robin Sutherland, who provided onlookers with some background on the poet before leading them in “America the Beautiful”) was another Rock Ledge attraction July 4.
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       In all, he said, about 50 volunteers from the ranch's Living History Association (LHA) helped with the Family Fourth, which is one of the big events that Rock Ledge puts on every summer. “We couldn't do it without our volunteers,” Morris said.
       Reenactors set up two military encampments - one for the Civil War and one for the Revolutionary War. They also gave shooting demonstrations, using the weapons and military style of their respective times.

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