In the late 1800's and early 1900's, many pioneer families came to Middle Park. Today the Middle Park Fair Board is proud to honor the sons and daughters of those pioneers.
2019 Pioneers of the Year
Drowsy Water Ranch
Lois Lynch has a demeanor marked with grace and humility coupled with a pioneering spirit that is based on a faith in God as well as the attitude of doing what it takes to get things accomplished.
She was born on July 4, 1934 to Jack and Dorothy Chase in Lookout Mountain, Colorado. The house in which she was born as well as her first grade school are located near the I-70 exit that leads to Buffalo Bill’s grave site. At a young age, Lois moved with her parents and her nine siblings to the Jack’s Mountain Lodge, a guest ranch that her parents owned and operated. The lodge was tucked against the Continental Divide above Rollinsville and just over the Divide from Grand County.
Jack’s cousin, Ben, owned and operated a ranch in Walden Hollow, which is located just south and a bit east of Lake Granby. One of the ranch hands who helped Ben travel to Jackson Mountain Lodge for visits was Jim Lynch. In the summer, those trips were sometimes made by horseback over the Divide. An acquaintance was made between Lois & Jim who displayed his musical skills with his guitar and voice, and a romance soon blossomed.
Lois and Jim were married in 1953, they moved to Grand County and started a life of ranch work as well as hosting and caring for guest ranch visitors. Through it all, Lois pitched in wherever she
was needed. Cooking, trailrides, laundry, cattle drives, milking cows and putting up hay were all part of her life and she navigated through it all with her optimism and grace.
After working for Ben Chase in Walden Hollow, at the Slash J Slash ranch between Granby and Grand Lake, and at a ranch renting out his horses at Arapahoe Valley Ranch 10 miles east of Lake Granby, Jim and Lois moved to the other side of Granby to work for Jack Orr. At that time, Lois started cleaning for Snow Mountain Ranch and developed a cleaning business that she owned and operated for 22 years. Jim continued to sing and play his guitar and formed the Lynch Mob, a popular singing group that entertained at guest ranches, weddings and other special occasions. Lois says she loved to travel with the group to support her husband and because she loved to listen to them sing.
Jim was also a handyman and took a job with DMJ Contractors in Kremmling. Looking for a way to cut down on commuting, a chance meeting with Con and Gladys Ritschard in Kremmling led to housing on the Troublesome and then to the ranch on Hwy 40 where they lived and worked for Norm Carpenter until the ranch was recently sold.
Jim and Lois raised seven children, Doug, Dana, Lynette, Kerry, Sandra, Wanda and Brenda as well as a grandson, Cory. One of the highlights for Lois was a three-week Hawaiian vacation that she, Jim and Cory were able to enjoy. One of her goals while she was cleaning for those 22 years was to remove all family debt and to take a trip to Hawaii. She and her family were able to realize both goals. Lois said she wants to stay in Grand County but she isn’t worried about how things will work out. “I know that God has my back,” Lois says.
Congratulations Lois on being selected as a Pioneer of the Year for 2019. Your selection continues a family tradition as your husband Jim as well as your cousins Jim and Bob Chase have also been selected as Pioneers of the Year. Thank you for what you and your family have done to make Grand County a great place in which to live.
Drowsy Water Ranch
Recreation has been an integral part of Grand County’s heritage since the early part of the 1900s for people looking to ski in the winter or to vacation in the summer with pursuits like
fishing in mountain streams or experiencing a taste of the cowboy lifestyle on an authentic Western ranch. Drowsy Water Ranch, which is located off of Hwy 40 between Hot Sulphur Springs
and Windy Gap, was established as a guest ranch in the late 1930s when Dean “Pops” Gleasner, a salesman from Chicago established a business on a homestead on Drowsy Water Creek. He increased the size of the ranch with land he purchased from the Hitchin’ Post near Windy Gap to the Sheriff Ranch near Hot Sulphur Springs.
Ken and Randy Sue Fosha purchased Drowsy Water in 1977 and, after 42 years as owners and operators, they are the longest tenured dude ranch owners in Grand County. They raised two sons, Ryan and Justin, on the ranch and it remains very much a family operation to this day. Justin is an electrical engineer and Ryan is a commercial pilot and both chose to come back to the ranch and help their parents with a business that has been satisfying guests for over four decades. Justin & wife Gretta have two children, Peyton (11) and Chase (8). Ryan and his wife Ellen are parents to Scotty (2). The whole family gets involved as the family tradition continues at Drowsy Water Ranch. For their role in Grand County history, Drowsy Water Ranch and the Fosha family will be honored as Pioneers of the Year at the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo this August in Kremmling.
Ken grew up near Callhan, Colorado on a ranch that had been in his family since the 1860s. Randy Sue grew up in Denver. She was an X-ray technician and he a civil engineer when they met as ski instructors at Geneva Ski Area, which was located on Guanella Pass.
Between the time that Pops Gleasner owner the ranch and 1977, the ranch was owned by numerous individuals, some of whom sold off portions of the ranch. For example, Gleasner’s stepdaughter sold the Hitchin’ Post and adjoining Colorado River land to the Chimney Rock Fishing Club. Ken notes that Roger and Mary Forester bought the ranch in the mid 60s and were the first to update and modernize the ranch and the amenities offered.
Parts of the guest, or dude, ranch experience have remained unchanged over the decades. Horseback rides, western music and dancing, hearty meals, campfires and fishing are staples of the week-long vacations. Swimming pools, raft trips and playgrounds are also part of the experience. The influence of Ryan and Justin resulted in a Zip line being installed over the valley in which the ranch is located. Drowsy Water also features swing and square dancing, a carnival, and an entertainment night featuring staff members. A good portion of the week is centered around horses with instructions, competitions, and trail rides.
However, in talking to Ken and Randy Sue, you realize that the real magic of a guest ranch experience can be observed by watching people unwind, relax, connect with family and new friends, and develop an appreciation for the great outdoors. Driving up the lane to the ranch, several fence posts are adorned with old and tattered boots. In a metaphorical sense, guests are invited to “kick of their shoes” before they even arrive. It is a brand new experience for many people, the Foshas note, one that many people repeat with family and friends several times; one couple from Florida have been guests of Drowsy Water 25 times.
The guest ranching business also provides an economic boost for the area. Not including family members, Drowsy Water employs over 25 seasonal workers. The 100 horses necessary for a guest ranch that has 50 to 55 guests each week are fed with hay that is grown on one ranch near Granby and another in Jackson County near Walden. Drowsy Water is open from approximately the last week in May to the middle of September. That means over four dozen people each week are exposed to an unforgettable Grand County experience.
Ken and Randy Sue still love the guest ranch business and find it to be very rewarding, with one of the main reasons being the relationships they build; they have several lifelong friends that started as guests. They have been blessed with great staff members over the years and the experience has been rewarding for them as well. Mostly college students, the staff members serve as wranglers, cooks, housekeepers, counselors and hosts. Ken noted that over 20 marriages have occurred between people who met as staff members at Drowsy Water.
The Foshas have also been active members of the community. Both have served as presidents of the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association as well as holding offices with the national association. Ken was on the East Grand School Board of Directors for 16 years and has been a member of the Grand County Tourism Board since its formation in 1992. Justin is a member of the Mountain Parks Electric Board of Directors and Ryan owns a plane hangered in Granby and teaches flying around the county.
Congratulations Drowsy Water and the Fosha family. You have been gracious hosts to our visitors for over 40 years and have provided a wonderful Grand County experience as you have shared your love, lifestyle and passion with your guests.