The next big step – buying Hanson Ranch
The Hanson Ranch consisted of a large barn and an old white farmhouse next to a small spruce tree. It was on the north side of U.S. Highway 6. The ranch was a mile and a half in length and about forty acres in width, with national-forest boundary on either side. The land included an irrigated meadow for a distance of a mile and a half on both sides of the road. It extended to the national-forest boundary on both the north and south sides and to the Katsos Ranch on the east, closest to Vail Pass. The Hansons and the Katsos had all the water rights on both sides of Gore Creek and both sides of the highway. It was a choice piece of land with a beautiful view back into the Gore Range, which, of course, you can still see today.
“When I went over to Hanson’s place, he was inside the gate with his dog and looked inquisitive as I drove into the yard,” Conway said. “He didn’t bother to come outside the gates, so I stopped the car and went in and he asked what I wanted to know.”
John Conway told him, “Well, I’ve been coming up and down this valley for many years since about 1940, and I dearly love the place. I thought it was the most beautiful valley in Colorado. I have some friends in Denver who want to get a place over here to fish and hunt. I wondered if you would consider selling this ranch?”
Hanson said, “No. My son and I bought this place a couple years ago. We love it and I’m a widower and I don’t have any desire to sell it.”
After a friendly conversation, Hanson told Conway, “I’ve enjoyed visiting with you, Mr. Conway, and anytime you’re over this way, drop in and see me.”
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Every month from September 1957 through October 1958, John Conway stopped by the ranch to visit with Hanson, who was always pleasant and seemed pleased to see Conway. They didn’t talk much about buying the ranch – they just talked. That’s what you did with the ranchers.
The following September – 1958 – John Conway was on his way back from Grand Junction with a friend who said, “I just heard the price of cattle is down a bit. The hay got wet, things are looking a little tough, and my hay baler has broken down.”
Conway replied, “By golly, let’s just stop in and see Mr. Hanson.”
Hanson seemed happy to see them and invited them to dinner. Hanson’s son Jim was there, too. They all had a drink and a nice dinner, and they sat and talked into the evening. Finally, John Hanson said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about what you asked me concerning the sale of my ranch. My son and I have talked about it a little, and I’m not so sure we wouldn’t be interested in selling.”
Conway said, “Gee, that sounds great. Why don’t you let me get hold of my friends who are interested in this and have them come over and really look the place over. If they feel they really want it, we’ll sit down and talk some more.”
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 10th installment, an excerpt from chapter 3, “The Next Big Step.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.