Diane Prather

Diane Prather

Diane Prather: 2nd Mantle Ranch book available now


Diane Prather

Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.

— This week's column reviews "Last Ranch in Hells Canyon: Further Adventures of the Mantle Family," Queeda Mantle Walker's second book about the Mantle Ranch.

Walker's first book, "The Mantle Ranch, A Family's Joys and Sorrows in the Beautiful, Remote Yampa River Canyon," begins with Charley Mantle's homesteading land in Hells Canyon, located in the very northwest corner of Colorado.

In 1926, Charley married Evelyn Fuller, and the couple moved from the homestead to the ranch.

The Mantle Ranch was isolated, and without roads, electricity, running water, or telephone. Besides that, one of the biggest challenges throughout the years was dealing with the National Park Service.

Since the Mantle Ranch was located in the middle of Dinosaur National Monument, the government imposed regulations and restrictions, which made it difficult to raise cattle.

But, nothing stopped Charley and Evelyn. They raised five children: Charles Jr. (Potch), Pat, Queeda, Lonnie and Tim. And they saw to it that their children got an education, too, even building a schoolhouse on the property to do it.

In 1951, Tim began eighth grade at Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah. Lonnie, a junior, was there, too.

Queeda was a sophomore at CU-Boulder, Pat was working at a neighbor's ranch, and nobody knew for sure where Potch was.

But, suddenly Charley and Evelyn were alone. The Chews, who had been the Mantle's closest neighbor, had moved away, and their next nearest neighbor lived 40 miles from the Mantle Ranch.

Charley and Evelyn weren't in such good health. Charley's old back injury was bothering him, and his hearing was poor. Evelyn was overworked, trying to take care of both of them. So, the chapter's title "What Now?" says it all.

Eventually, Charley decided to leave the ranch for good, after 34 years. He wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream and travel to Brazil. The book includes chapters about his travels there and to other places, such as Australia.

Chapters are devoted to Evelyn, too, who spent summers on the ranch and winters with Queeda in Boulder. She even got a job.

The reader of this second book gets to follow the Mantle children during their high school years. Three of them graduated from college. Other adventures include marriages, grandchildren, rodeo experiences, work pursuits, Lonnie's horse shoeing invention, wild horse drives, the beginning of the Sombrero Ranch and a lot more.

The children held the ranch together, too. The National Park Service intended to put the Mantle Ranch out of business. Of particular interest to the Park Service was 160 acres in Hells Canyon, the proposed site of a ranger's station.

Finally, the Mantles took the government to court. Walker credits her brother Lonnie for a chapter in the book that recounts the court proceedings. "Mantle Ranch vs. United States Park Service, et al" is an incredible story. It includes the closing argument by attorney Stanley F. Johnson and Judge Kane's "Memorandum Opinion and Order."

There were sad times, too. Charley was killed in Mexico in 1969. Potch, Pat and Evelyn died, also.

This is a very interesting book that answers questions readers might have had after reading Walker's first book.

"Last Ranch in Hells Canyon: Further Adventures of the Mantle Family" is published by Lifetime Chronicles Press (2009) and may be ordered through the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

The book costs $15.95.


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