I recently had a great discussion with Stan and Charlie Searle concerning their local history and the history of Gwillimville.
Stan and Lorna Searle came to Monument in 1987 and purchased Tri-Lakes Cable and owned it until 2000. They also started their ranch on land that was originally the town of Gwillimville. Searle Ranch was founded in the mid-1990s, having relocated from Evergreen then Walsenburg, and is on Highway 105 between Roller Coaster Road and Highway 83 (the Cherry Springs Ranch neighborhood was created on a 40-acre portion of the ranch’s original 230 acres). Some of the family members are involved at the ranch. Their son, Monty, runs the ranch. Daughter, Sharon, helps with events and their son, Charlie, is involved in marketing the beef. Their grandson, Elijah also helps. All the cattle are grass fed and free of antibiotic feeding, hormones and steroids.
In the summer, anywhere from 35 to 50 cattle graze on the property near 105, but in the winter, they go to their Silverado Ranch near Ellicott, as the winters are too harsh for the 105 property. The blizzard of 1997 scattered the cattle everywhere. Meat is processed and packaged at a plant in Westcliffe.
Stan told me the ranch is a working ranch where they brand the cattle. It takes about three people to get the job done. The cattle must be roped and dragged to the fire for the branding, and then two people hold it down while one does the branding. Occasionally, neighbors chip in and help with the branding.
The ranch is not set up as an event center, however, they host the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce after hours in June. Charlie has hosted musical events in the barn, such as a hospital benefit. At one time, they had an event for wounded warriors in which they helped to bring the cattle in, rope, brand the cattle and vaccinate the calves. Stan felt that this was one of the most worthwhile projects in which they’ve been involved. He said it really helped the men and women involved. Kit Haddock brings his 100-year-old chuckwagon to feed the crew.
The Searle family also created and published the Texas Longhorn Journal from 1976 to 2001. Lorna was the sales manager. She also founded the Fibromyalgia Recovery Foundation in 2011. For her story and more information, go to fibrohelp.net.
The Silverado Ranch Texas Longhorns lead the National Stock Show Kickoff Cattle Drive in January. They start at Coors Field in downtown Denver, go past Union Station and end up in the business district. It is referred to as the “Downtown Cattle Drive.” Castle Rock has a Western Heritage Week in July. The cattle drive starts at Rock Park, goes along Perry Street and ends in front of the Castle Rock Police Department.
Stan told me that about eight miles east of the property is the site of the Goodnight-Loving Trail where longhorns were brought up from Texas to the Denver Stockyards and on to Cheyenne Wyoming.
The site of the ranch was at one time the town of Gwillimville. It was established in 1869 by the Gwillims and other families from Wales. The town consisted of a hotel, blacksmith, post office, creamery and cheese factory, schoolhouse and community church. There was also a stage stop, where the wheel ruts are still evident. A diphtheria epidemic claimed the lives of one of the Gwillim brothers and two of the founder’s daughters. The town’s main industries were dairy, ranching and timber. The town was abandoned after the potato blight of 1895. The school house was moved to the Presbyterian church in Monument and then later was moved to 105 near the Village Inn and used as the Chamber of Commerce. Charlie lives in one of the homes that was still standing and has been refurbished and has all the modern conveniences.
Linda Saulnier Case is a third-generation Monument resident. She enjoys researching and sharing about the history of the founding of Monument. Contact Linda with feedback and questions on Tri-Lakes life and history at email@example.com.