EDITOR’S DESK: Rock Ledge: Making a name
Some people still know Rock Ledge Ranch as “White House Ranch,” which is interesting in the light of a local history
book I just read, dated 1972, stating that the latter name had, at that time, become official “only recently.”
It's an authoritative book, having been authored by Emily Johnson, whose husband, Ed, was caretaker of the ranch from 1943 until the city bought it in 1967.
Unfortunately, her book does not state if the ranch had a special name before that, but it does report that locals started calling it "White House Ranch" only after the distinctive manor that General Palmer built there for his wife's half-sister (now known as the Orchard House) received a white paint job in the early 1940s.
For what it's worth, I'm glad the city decided in the last few years to give the historic site a name more intrinsic to its colorful past. "Rock Ledge" was what the Chambers family called the solid house they built when they had the ranch in the 1880s. So, when the city decided to make that the theme period for working-ranch operations, it made sense to apply the Rock Ledge name to the entire 220-acre spread.
This is all a long-winded lead-up to saying what a fine job the Rock Ledge Ranch people did in preparing the old place for the bluegrass and tasting (Fiddles, Vittles & Vino) festival Aug. 27. The first-time event seems to have been a real hit - which is good news, considering how tight finances are for the facility. If this festival turns into a major annual fund raiser, it could ensure that the ranch continues to be an educational public visiting place, and maybe even take a little load off the volunteers who do so much there.
That would be real good news. Maybe even better than when they removed that white paint from the Orchard House.