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RBC I The North Fork area is full of history, but it may not always be easy to piece together.
Frequently, the ties of one family lead to another family or one area school has family members who attended more than one area school and the search for one coherent history continues.
Lime Kiln, Piceance and even Powell Park have been the topic of discussion previously, but only the White River pioneers have been mentioned when talking about the Bar Bell history or, in the Jordan story, referring to the Rio Blanco Ranch.
A brief history of some of the ranches up the river will lead to specific stories on the Fritzlans, the Sizemores and others.
The area on the North Fork of the White River had its own community, as did Lime Kiln. There was a post office established at Marvine Lodge in 1885 which continued until the ranch sold in 1928 and was no longer a guest ranch. There were several area attractions and a stage ran from Meeker to Buford in the late 1800’s, providing the essentials area residents needed for survival.
The early days upriver seem to have many similarities to the large tourist-related businesses that exist there now.
The Rio Blanco Ranch, or 101, drew wealthy investors wanting to come to the area to enjoy the great outdoors while continuing to enjoy special treatment.
The Marvine Lodge was known as one of the best resorts for people wanting to visit and experience the Rockies. In the 1890s it did big business by bringing large groups of people into the area from all over the country.
The land was purchased by a corporation made up of Denver and Colorado Springs sportsmen and was originally called the Marvine Gun and Rod Club Association. Rueben Ball leased and managed the Marvine before buying it 1910.
The Marvine was not the only ranch to attract sportsmen, however. Perhaps it was one of the earliest ranches, but the original idea would be copied for more than a century, with such resorts as Elk Creek Ranch, the Rio Blanco Ranch and others capitalizing on the area’s wildlife and outdoor opportunities.
Another notable ranch was the Sizemore Resort, providing trail rides and guide services to visitors. It was run by Oscar Sizemore, who was in business originally with John Dade, his father-in-law.
Sizemore and Dade ran the mail from Meeker to Marvine for $3,600 a year. They hauled cream to town and carried groceries back upriver.
Sizemore moved to the resort in 1925 and the property is still in the Sizemore family. Mike Sizemore represents the third generation on the ranch.
Just up the road from the Sizemore Resort is the Fritzlan Ranch. It also provided guide services, cabins and a location for weddings, as well as the Fritzlan Cafe, which provided home-cooked meals for upriver residents and visitors for more than 30 years.
Arlene Fritzlan served as owner/operator, cook, cleaner, marketing director and everything else for the ranch.
It was a steadfast tradition for tourists to drop in at the cafe before heading downriver.
Trappers Lake, along with its cabins and lodge, have been a long-standing operation. Numerous individuals have tried their hand at running the place.
Perhaps it was the cold winters tied to the short summer tourist season that got the best of them.
Jack Nassau, father of Angela Sprod, Gerry Flaherty and Dick Nassau, ran the cabins at Trappers Lake for a time, and Mr. J. Colby had the boats. Although the ownership has changed, the attraction to the area has not. Trappers Lake continues to attract anglers from all over the globe.
Other names that may ring a bell for longtime locals are those of folks like Joe Langlass.
They had a place that was later sold to the Bar Bell, but the recent fire was in Langlass Draw. And there are names like Paltier, Ernst Mueller and a Mr. Crook, all of whom have areas named after them.
The way the pioneers upriver made their living may have been different but they certainly had plenty of challenges and persisted in spite of the difficulties they faced.