Vol. 33, No. 1, Spring/Summer 1995- "The Pennsylvania Geographer"



Sandra F. Pritchard

West Chester University


Ranching began in the early 1860s when herdsmen drove their cattle and sheep over the Continental Divide in the summer to graze on the lush grasses of the Blue River Valley. Ranches tended to be large because of the acreage needed to raise sufficient food for winter feed. Because of Summit County's dry summers, a steady water supply was a necessity. Water was purchased through local courts. Ranchers dug water ditches to irrigate as well as to drain pastures and meadows. Residents experimented with a variety of crops, choosing those that could mature in the short frost freegrowing season. Markets for local produce such as mountain head lettuce stretched across the country. Cattle and sheep left Dillon daily by rail for Denver feed lots. The biggest problem facing ranchers in Summit County was not the weather, which they had learned to deal with, but the prices they received for their agricultural products. In this, they were at the mercy of situations beyond their control.

The Pennsylvania Geographical Society exists to promote effective geographic teaching, research, and literacy.

Click here to contact the webmaster

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software