More than a century of history on the Twin Buttes Ranch

The Twin Buttes Ranch Company LLC is located in the beautiful northwest corner of Colorado. This fifth generation family-owned ranching operation dates back to the late 1880s. Dave and Cheryl took over management of the ranch in 1981 and now the ranch is managed by their sons Scott (second from left) and his wife Mikki, and Owen and his wife Michelle. The Robertsons’ daughter Karen and her husband Troy are also pictured.

RANGELY I Twin Buttes Ranch has come a long way in five generations. It has not only adapted but flourished through the years. Dave and Cheryl Robertson have been a significant reason for that success. Cheryl’s grandfather, James W. Rector, traveled “The Goodnight Trail” during 1884 and 1885. This was the famous trail running from southeastern Wyoming down through New Mexico and into Texas. Rector was trail boss on the last drive. After arriving in Wyoming he received word to gather the 3,000 head he had delivered and take the herd to Douglas Creek in Colorado. They went down the Snake River, out through Lilly Park, down Wolf Creek to White River and up Douglas Creek to West Creek.
It was late fall and J.W. decided to spend the winter of 1885-86 here. In 1886 he brought another herd from Texas into Grand Valley. The next year these cattle were gathered and moved north into the Douglas Creek area. From 1888 to 1896 he was foreman of three large free-range outfits running from the Utah line to the top of the Bookcliffs at Rifle. The best year 10,000 calves were branded. During that time he had acquired the Winchester Hotel in Rifle and he used this hotel as a down payment to buy the Brick Ranch below Rangely. Additional land on the White River and summer range up West Douglas were added. In 1899 Rector returned to his birthplace in Missouri to marry Myrtle McNew. They had three children. Ruby, the oldest, was Cheryl Robertson’s mother. She married Albert Kirby and the two took over the Rector ranch in the 1940s, adding to it over the years by purchasing other homesteads and ranches in the area.
Dave was raised on a ranch near Hugo, Colo. He joined the United States Army right out of high school during the Korean War and was assigned to the Ordnance Depot, spending more than two years in Alaska where they feared a potential Russian attack. When he returned in 1954 he entered college. Cheryl and Dave met in Boulder at Colorado University. They were graduated in May 1958 with bachelor’s degrees in business administration and were married in December. They lived in Greeley for five years and their two sons were born there. In 1963 the family moved to the ranch to help Cheryl’s parents. Dave spent most of the first 20 years on horseback tending to the cattle. In 1981 he took over the management. They have continued to add parcels of land and BLM permits to the ranch.
Currently Twin Buttes Ranch covers about 140,000 acres, with 15,000 of those acres deeded. Their two sons, Scott (Mikki) and Owen (Michelle) are the managers. They can summer about 1,200 head of cattle in West Douglas, West Creek and Missouri Creek and winter about 900 head in the Park country south of Rangely during high moisture years. They also provide quality deer and elk hunting.
Daughter Karen Latham and her husband Tory have an oil field trash service, but she remains active in the ranch.
All three children were graduated from Rangely High School and attended college. Scott and Owen were graduated from Northeastern Junior College. Owen went on to Colorado State University to earn his bachelor’s degree in general agriculture. Karen attended Colorado Mountain College where she earned an associate degree in veterinary technology. Dave and Cheryl have six grandchildren. Tyler has graduated from CSU and is back at Twin Buttes, representing the fifth generation.
There have been amazing changes since J.W. Rector’s first trip to the area. Back in a day that all travel was by horseback and the chuckwagon carried all the supplies, to the next generation having two track roads but no electricity or running water, to dirt roads and automobiles, to this new era of technology. One thing has remained the same through the years, work ethic. They have worked hard to keep the ranch thriving in a time that is not always conducive to agricultural success. It can be a tough business, but with tough people going back more than a century, they have made it.

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