Saturday, August 10, 2002
Steamboat Springs Hi, Friends Halden,
It looks as though one of our fondest dreams may soon materialize. Well, within the span of a year's time, anyway. Our dream? our own automobile bridge across Elk River? Why now, when we've managed to get by for the past 10 years without? Well, yes, we have managed to "get by." But, can you imagine yourselves in our position?
When Fred bought this ranch (our present home place on Elk River), it did bring us within easy walking distance (just about .25 miles) of a winter public school. This seemed a great improvement over our situation at Mystic, where the nearest school was five miles from our place. You will probably recall I was home schooling Frances and Dorothy with the Calvert Course.
Well, that was in 1928. We moved down to the River Ranch from Mystic; the Mad Creek school right across Elk River from our house hadn't dismissed for the season, but our girls couldn't attend that school that spring because it was impossible to cross the river (which was still at flood stage).
I continued with the girls' home schooling via Calvert Course. School was temporally interrupted while Fred moved from Mystic to the river, and I stayed in town with our friends Lloyd and Jo Brown while I awaited the arrival of our sonny, Billy Bowie May.
Billy arrived May 20, and Billy and I came home to the River Ranch. What a shock! I had left my cozy little "picture book home" at Mystic and returned to a ramshackle old shell of a bachelor camp occupied by a horde of packrats.
Fred was frantically in cleaning the place up assisted by Frances, 10, and Dorothy, 7, and at the same time helping a carpenter construct a nice two-room addition plus front and back porches to the north side of the old "cracker box" two-story house.
The only automobile access to the River Ranch, was via a rough dirt road (impassable when wet, and totally snowed shut in winter).
Well, the water level in the river gradually fell until by mid-July Fred felt it was safe to ford on horseback at the old Bachman Ford .5 miles below our house. And soon afterward safe to cross with team and wagon.
Our first foot log served from Aug. 6, 1928, until April 17, 1929. On Aug. 8, 1929, Fred, with the help of neighbors and hired hands, installed our foot log (several single log spans from rock to rock, in a not very straight course). This, until April 7, 1930 (when our foot log went out with the spring flood), connected us with the outside world. The Mad Creek School term commenced the first week in September and our girls attended until the foot log went out the following April. All the other Mad Creek pupils lived east of the river and so were no affected by the high water. Well, what did affect our school situation was the fact that Mad Creek and Middle Elk school were both in District 33 and the 33 School Board decided to combine the schools (and eliminate the Mad Creek School). The Fly Gulch school, in District 9, was a summer school and was three miles down the river and was on our side of the river. The summer session at Fly Gulch had just commenced when the Mad Creek school finished. Frances and Dorothy enrolled at Fly Gulch and commenced riding double on a retired old cow pony. Well, I've just started on my account of the May bridges. Will continue with next letter.