May family’s historic S-S Ranch for sale |
Tamera Manzanares

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May family’s historic S-S Ranch for sale

History at the May S-S Ranch is more than the weathered, turn-of-the-century cabins or rusted antique farm equipment.

It’s the overgrown road Bill May walked to the old Fly Gulch school near Sleeping Giant or the lupine and sage brush-covered hills that inspired Cynthia May’s painted post cards. History at the ranch is a flighty glimpse of a spry young buck prancing over a knoll and the swift river that nourishes waist-high hay.

For the first time in more than 75 years, the well-known 380-acre ranch in the lower Elk River Valley is ready for a new chapter.

“It’s huge,” Realtor Wendy Fisher said about the ranch being for sale. “Every 50 years, you see a ranch like this come on the market. It’s a real opportunity for someone to own a piece of history.”

It’s hard to put a value on the ranch, where five generations of the May family grew up harvesting high country organic hay, watching over cattle and calves on the ranch’s upland pastures and fishing on a 1-mile stretch of the Elk River.

Generations of a new family can enjoy the same opportunities and lifestyle, thanks to conservation easements guaranteeing the ranch will never be split into ranchettes.

Unknowing passerbyers on Elk River Road hardly would suspect the expansive fields that lie on the other side of the bridge and giant cottonwoods along the river.

Two irrigation ditches with 18 cubic-feet per second of senior water rights feed 175 acres of continuous hay fields even in times of drought. The meadows produce between 300 and 600 tons of hay per year, Fisher said.

Balancing the fields are 173 acres of sagebrush hills that host wildlife and provide grazing and calving ground for cattle as well as two springs and seasonal ponds.

The ranch compound, about 32 acres, includes numerous houses and agricultural structures between 70 and 100 years old. The property includes a picturesque barn and remnants of a cabin built by the Cullen family, which homesteaded the property.

New owners may choose to restore the structures or build a new home and outbuildings. A total of 7,500 square feet of residential space is permitted on the property, which is about five miles from Steamboat Springs.

The S-S Ranch is being offered at $6 million or about $16,000 per acre — a value compared to most riverfront property selling for about $20,000 an acre, Fisher said.

The ranch is an ideal opportunity for an avid recreationalist, fisherman, outfitter and guide or someone interested in pursuing ranching.

For a new generation of educated buyers, that kind of lifestyle far outweighs development rights, Fisher said.

“We’re seeing a new clientele interested in keeping it open and not developed,” she said.

For more information, call Fisher at 879-9212.

— To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail