By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
One of the last historic ranches between Aspen and Glenwood Springs recently sold for $7.2 million, according to records at the Garfield County Clerk & Recorder’s office.
Variously known in recent years as the TCI Lane Ranch and McClure River Ranch, the 100-acre parcel sits on the south side of Highway 82 along the Roaring Fork River, just upvalley from Catherine Store.
Marc Ganzi, who co-founded the Aspen Valley Polo Club at Catherine Store with his wife, Melissa, according to published reports, confirmed that a partnership affiliated with the club recently acquired the Ace Lane property.
“Our goals with the land are consistent with the goals we had when we bought the Aspen Equestrian Estates barn/facility next to Catherine Store, which is to grow and introduce this great equestrian sport, namely polo, in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Marc Ganzi told The Sopris Sun in an email. “The (new) project has plans to plant two new polo fields and a few barns for stabling; thus ensuring open space and more equestrian activities can grow in the valley.”
Continuing, Ganzi said, “The impact of the polo club after 4 years of operations we believe has been a real positive to Carbondale, El Jebel and Emma broadly, as we host kids’ polo camps, teach lessons and host many charitable events at the polo club that benefit local charities … this theme will carry forward in the new property as well.”
The Garfield County Commissioners approved a PUD to build 89 homes on the property in 2009, but the parcel was never developed.
“We have NO plans to build the 89 homes the original developer sought to build,” Ganzi said. “In terms of home site development on the property we would prefer to keep those terms to ourselves for the time being, as we continue to dialogue with the county on the best way to utilize the additional land and introduce a limited number of housing units.”
A bit of history
The property, which sits between the Blue Creek subdivision to the west, and Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork to the east, has a long and somewhat storied past.
The most recent owners, before selling the property to TCI Lane Ranch LLC in 2006, were Oscar and Wilma Cerise. Like other local Cerises, Oscar’s ancestors emigrated to the U.S. from northern Italy not long after Colorado achieved statehood in 1876.
The property’s ranching history started in 1892, when Thomas McClure homesteaded it, according to a document provide by Toni Cerise. McClure went on to fame (not sure about fortune) when he developed his Red McClure potato on the property.
According to a 2004 article by Willa Soncarty in the Glenwood Post Independent, McClure left his native Ireland on his 21st birthday on Oct. 21, 1869, looking for a better life in the United States. He had heard of work to be had in the mines of Colorado. Within a few months of his arrival, he had moved westward, settling in Georgetown. Later, he moved west to Leadville, where he continued mining. He married Sarah Jane Montgomery (also from Ireland) in 1874. The McClures saved their money and ultimately moved to the Roaring Fork Valley to farm. With potatoes quickly becoming a lucrative cash crop in the Carbondale area, McClure began an experiment. Focusing upon the Early Rose variety, he eventually developed a new potato, which he named the Red McClure. It was perfect for baking or boiling, and the new potato’s taste made it a success. Other local farmers began growing Red McClures, and in the early 1900s at least one railroad passenger line made it their official potato offering. Despite his local farming success, McClure eventually left the Roaring Fork Valley in 1896, returning to Leadville to work the mines.