Listen to this post
Take a quick look through the Meeker Herald archives from the 1960s to the early 2000s, and there’s a good chance you’ll come across a reference to Sleepy Cat.
From birthday celebrations to weddings, reunions, retirements, seminars, retreats, Sunday dinners, and of course the famous scones, Sleepy Cat was the place to be, well worth the 18 mile drive along a beautiful stretch of the White River.
That wasn’t always the case. Sleepy Cat was built in the early 1940s, and enjoyed some popularity with celebrities, politicians (Dwight Eisenhower loved to fish at Sleepy Cat, according to area lore) and locals alike. Despite it’s renown, it was tough going. Several business owners walked away with nothing to show but bankruptcies prior to the purchase of the property by the Wix family in 1962.
It was no easy task to rebuild the reputation of the place, according to Steve Wix, who was eight years old when his parents, Clark and Charlotte, purchased Sleepy Cat. “Dad really pinched pennies. But it became world famous, really,” he stated in an interview with the HT in 2010.
World-famous, indeed. Sleepy Cat’s golden years in the latter half of the 20th century brought in tourists from all over the world to stay and play in the White River Valley, and also became a favorite with locals.
It wasn’t all scones and sunshine for the Wix family. For one thing, management of the place was a ton of work. Even with four kids helping out on the property and later taking turns overseeing the place, “everybody would get burned out on it. There was never enough time and money to do it. It’s hard on you, physically and mentally. But, boy, we made a lot of friends from everywhere,” Wix said.
Then, the lodge was completely destroyed by a gas explosion and resulting fire in 1991. Two men were injured; both recovered. A Herald article detailing the damage highlighted the timing of the blast could have been much, much worse. “Officials shudder to think about what could have faced them had the explosion occurred on New Year’s Eve when over 200 holiday revelers were inside the restaurant/lounge,” the article states.
The lodge was rebuilt and reopened within the same year, and continued to be a favorite for travelers near and far until its sale.
“People really miss it, and we do, too. It was a hard decision to sell, but we all grew up and mom and dad got too old,” Wix said in 2010, after reiterating the family was not interested in buying the property back (much to the chagrin of locals).
The Wix chapter of Sleepy Cat history was closed in 2002, when the property was sold to Rich and Ellen Dawe.
“I was always in love with Sleepy Cat,” current owner Bob Regulski told the HT in 2010, but the path to ownership wasn’t a straight shot.
First, Regulski purchased the neighboring property along the west end of Sleepy Cat and fixed it up. Next door: one step closer.
After about a year at that place (formerly owned by the Chambers family), Regulski struck up a relationship with Sleepy Cat owners Rich and Ellen Dawe, who happened to mention they might be interested in selling. “Lo and behold, I ended up buying it (in 2008). I traded them the Chambers place for Sleepy Cat, plus some cash as well,” Regulski said.
Regulski devoted time and energy to fixing the place up, tearing down most of the cabins and completing other repairs. “When I do a project, I usually do it myself and it takes me years to do it,” he told the HT.
“It’s more a labor of love than anything else. You don’t do projects like this for money. You do it from the heart. If you put all your heart and passion in it, it usually works out.”
Things have indeed worked out for Regulski, but after 12 years, it’s someone else’s turn to own the “Crown Jewel of the White River Valley.” Sleepy Cat has been listed with local agent Suzan Pelloni of Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty for $7.9 million.
“Bob has really fixed up and improved the property in the years that he has had it,” Wix said when asked about the sale. “He has put a lot of work into the lodge building and the landscaping.”
Pelloni is excited to find potential buyers for the much-loved place. “I am honored to represent Sleepy Cat Ranch. It’s easy to share my passion for the property simply reflecting on my childhood memories. This property is truly a hidden gem: riverfront, lush meadows and a grandiose lodge.”
Sleepy Cat adjoins the Oak Ridge State Wildlife area on the north, and comes with approximately 40 acres, including a half mile of river frontage with great fishing. There’s also the option to purchase additional land on the south side of the river. The lodge itself is 10,000 square feet. Furnishings are included in the listing. A cabin and ranch quarters are included, as well.
View the full listing at https://www.suzanpelloni.realtor/real-estate/16064-county-road-8-meeker-co-81641/164721/95654760y
By Caitlin Walker | firstname.lastname@example.org