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History of the T Lazy 7 & Surrounding Area

T Lazy 7

The T Lazy 7 Ranch has been owned and operated since 1938 by the Deane family, whose local roots extend back to Josiah Deane, one of the 5 members of the original party to establish the town of Aspen in 1880.

The ranch is the last outpost before being surrounded by a quarter of a million acres of White River National Forest—the largest National Park in Colorado.
  • T Lazy 7 operates under a special use permit from the US Forest Service and has been running snowmobile tours since 1968 to treat visitors to wilderness that no vehicles can access during wintertime.

Surrounding Area

Pyramid Peak is visible—elevation: 14, 018 ft. One of the 54 peaks in the Colorado Rockies over 14, 000 ft. Along with the Maroon Bells, Pyramid Peak is said to be one of the most photographed mountains in North America.
  • The picturesque scenery has served as the backdrop for several movies including: White Fang 2, The Red Stallion of the Rockies, Gypsy Colt, Devil’s Doorway, and Tall Tale. The first ever Marlboro commercial, photo shoots for Playboy, American Eagle Outfitters, and commercials for Budweiser and numerous car companies were also shot on location.
Ute Indians claimed this area as their home until gold and silver drew settlers into the area around 1879.
  • Prospectors and miners moving from Leadville over Independence pass moved into Aspen to discover one of the richest silver lodes the world has ever known.

Aspen History

Josiah “Judge” Deane was a “founding father” of Aspen. He surveyed the town, was instrumental in the decision to change the name from “Ute City” to “Aspen”, and after Pitkin County was organized in 1881, he served as County Judge until his death in 1930.
  • The 5 founders divided the town into 5 sections. Judge Deane held what is known as the “Deane’s addition”—a tract of land 3 blocks deep and 6 blocks wide that spanned the base of Aspen Mountain.
  • The Deane family later lost this land in 1948 due to Colorado law that allowed the land to be seized for overdue property taxes. The total price owed the state? $51.00
Aspen was extremely rich with ore, and miners constructed miles upon miles of tunnels beneath the town and the mountains. The mountains are jokingly referred to as “Swiss cheese” and the Little Nell is so full of mining stopes that it is nearly completely hollow inside.
  • In fact, an entire train full of ore disappeared into the ground in 1918, at the location known as “Glory Hole Park” –near the current site of City Market. The train remains buried there to this day.
By 1893, Aspen’s population peaked around 16,000 residents (compared to the current year-round population of around 6,000), and the town hosted 6 newspapers, 4 schools, 3 banks, 2 theaters, an opera house, modern hospital, electric lights, and a small red-light district.
  • Prosperity in Aspen came to an abrupt end, however, in 1893 when the government repealed the Sherman Silver Act and returned to the Gold Standard.
  • Silver prices plummeted—from around $400/ ounce to only around $1.00/ ounce
  • The town quickly became a virtual ghost town and in 1935, only 700 people called Aspen “home”

Maroon Bells

The Maroon Bells: they are sometimes counted as 2 peaks, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, but geologically, this is actually a single mountain with twin peaks. The elevation is 14,156 ft. at the summit. They are among the most challenging of Colorado’s 14ers to scale.
  • They’re named for their bell-like shape and for the color of the rock, which is an unusual maroon color in comparison to Colorado’s typically grey mountains.
Wildlife you may catch sight of in Maroon Creek include:
  • Ermine: long, white, ferret-like member of the weasel family that inhabits burrows under the snow
  • Marten: another weasel family-member, brown, larger than Ermine, and tree-dweling
  • Beaver
  • Deer and Elk
  • Black Bears
  • Porcupine
  • Mountain Lions
  • Coyotes

The Quiet Years & Skiing

After the return to the Gold Standard in 1893, Aspen hit a slump known as “The Quiet Years”. Mining continued on a very limited basis, but potatoes became the cash crop in the valley.

By 1936, plans to develop a ski resort were underway. The first attempt at a ski area was up at Castle Creek, and a primitive six-passenger boat tow was built to transport early skiers up Aspen Mountain.

WWII put a hold on development plans. Instead, during this time, the 10th Mountain Division used the terrain for training exercises. Upon completion of the training, the division marched all the way to Vail.
  • You can hike the same route (or many other trails) and stay in a series of the 29 back-country huts maintained by the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association
  • After the war, survivors from the 10th Mountain Division returned to Aspen to help develop the first ski resort.
Aspen Mountain officially opens in 1947, and Lift 1 is dedicated as the world’s longest ski lift

Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands both open in 1958
  • Highlands Bowl (first opened in 1997) is the destination of choice for skiers looking to test their skill. Access to the bowl requires a 45-minute hike that ascends to 12,382 ft.
Snowmass Mountain opens in 1968

T Lazy 7

Had and Lou Deane married in 1938 and moved from Chicago back to Had’s homeland Aspen where they purchased the T Lazy 7 and established it as a cattle and horse ranch.
  • Had Deane was the grandson of Judge Deane, and father of the current owner/ ranch manager Rick Deane. Had was working as a salesman for Tamstone, a product he invented that adheres concrete to concrete and is used by contractors to this day.
  • Lou was a former Broadway actress who later had a contract with Universal and starred in silent films with icons such as Fatty Arbuckle and Ginger Rogers.
Had was accustomed to hosting his clients at the ranch, and Lou, weary of providing all of the meals, housekeeping, entertainment, and hospitality for this endless string of guests, one day traveled to town, and had rate cards printed up. Just like that T Lazy 7 transitioned from working ranch to guest ranch.

Had and Lou purchased one of the oldest brands in Colorado—the “T Lazy L”, but Lou wanted to change it to “7” so no one would mistake the lazy “L” as a reference to her!

Lou managed nearly every aspect of the ranch after Had’s death in 1960, until she passes away in 1993. At this point, Rick and Landon Deane took over full management of the ranch.

In 1991, the main lodge burned completely to the ground and everything, including 80 years of irreplaceable photos and family history was lost.

T Lazy 7 is once again a working ranch.
  • In the winter, the buildings host ranch employees and snowmobile tour guides, and also great private parties in the main lodge.
  • In the summer months, the ranch operates horseback riding tours and the buildings provide housing for the many music students who flock to Aspen annually.
  • T Lazy 7 also gives back to the community by serving as a fundraising venue for many local organizations, particularly supporting non-profits that have children as their focus
T Lazy 7 makes an effort to be as environmentally conscientious as possible in its practices
  • All of the beef served on the tours comes from grass-fed Maine-Anjou cows that are organically raised on the Deane’s “Eagle-Butte” ranch in Paonia, Colorado.
  • On-site “recycling center”
  • Biodiesel used since 2005 for all diesel trucks and Snow cats
  • Most ATVs have been switched to electric “gators” and golf carts
  • The snowmobile fleet is currently transitioning over to low-emission 4 stroke machines

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