Pioneer museum honors Summer family

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— A 112-year-old ranch eight miles south of Steamboat Springs is getting recognition at the Tread of Pioneers Museum for its heritage and history.

Every summer, the museum exhibits a local founding family that has survived the improvements to the Yampa Valley through decades, or in this case, more than a century.

"Foundations of Steamboat: The Summer Family" is on exhibit at the museum from now until the end of the year.

Up the Victorian-style staircase at the museum is a room that holds vintage photographs and artifacts of the Summer family, who moved here from the high-peaked mountains of Austria.

The room takes visitors into a circular time line outlining where the ranch began, who founded the land and the progression of life until the present day.

John and Philapina Summer and their 12 children lived on a ranch in 1889 raising cattle, growing hay and plowing the crops of oat, barley, wheat and potatoes.

When the children grew older, son Louis Summer stayed in the valley to tend the ranch between Colorado 131 and Routt County Road 14. He married May Redford, a local rancher's daughter, and they had two children.

Louis purchased 160 acres of land that is now Emerald Meadows, but soon ran back to the Summer Ranch after crickets killed his grain crop and the cattle market collapsed in 1927.

Louis' son, Vernon, eventually took ownership when his father died in 1955.

Vernon married Edythe Chritton in 1962. Museum biographies show that Vernon has maintained and preserved the Summer Ranch until today.

In 1981, Vernon won the Conservation Award and The Goodyear Award. In 1989, he won the Colorado Centennial Farm Program Award at the state fair in Pueblo. In 1994, he won the Leckenby Award and in 1995, he was honored with the County Centennial Award.

Vernon, 84, still resides at the ranch.

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