In 1858, a miners discovery near present day Denver,
triggered the "gold rush of '59". Hundreds of gold seekers began pouring into Colorado, then part of the Kansas Territory. Their cry was "Pikes Peak or Bust!". During the 1860's and 1870's cattle were brought to Colorado in the great trail drives from Texas. The plains and mountain valleys that once fed the buffalo herds now provided free grazing land. By 1867 Lost Valley was one of a number of roundup headquarters for cattle heading to the stockyards and then East. Through this period "stock raising" was big business!
From 1878 to 1888 rancher George Tarbell
operated what is now Lost Valley and claimed ownership by squatter's rights. The remains of an old cabin, probably from his time, can be seen on the Hound Dog Loop ride out of the ranch. The two-story Ranch House and the barn under the Hayloft Theatre are the two oldest remaining structures at Lost Valley.
Sometime in the early 1890's, Jim Graham,
an immigrant from Scotland and his wife Rhoda moved to Lost Valley. By 1900, Jim had registered his brand, the reverse LVL and began buying 160 acre parcels from the state. From the earliest days, Jim Graham supplemented the family's income from cattle by working the mines in winter and taking in guests in the summer. Dorothy Roerig, born in Denver in 1903, recalls a family excursion by wagon to Lost Valley. "After breakfast, Mrs. Graham would give us some bacon, a frying pan and we'd go fishing. At noon we'd build a fire and fry the fish we caught". Dorothy also spoke of Jim Graham hitching up and driving his two-seat wagon to Buffalo Creek to pick up guests arriving on the train from Denver. "At the ranch, he had quite a few horses for riding and he would often let the 'dudes' go with him to check the cattle. In 1910 it was a lot like it is today.
After Jim Grahams death in 1934, Rhoda
sold the ranch to Hugh Graham (no relation) from Denver, who embarked on an ambitious program of expansion. In 1946, he built five cabins and began advertising 'Grahams Lost Valley Ranch' featuring modern accommodations, family-style meals, fishing and riding. Not advertised were a few illegal slot machines in the lodge basement.
In 1961, Bob and Marion Foster
began a new chapter in Lost Valley history. After a number of years coaching, business management and work with a Christian service organization, "Big Bob" longed for a change. Lost Valley gave him the opportunity he'd been looking for...and more challenge than he expected. His vision was to provide guests with a vacation experience like no other - in a wholesome family atmosphere likened to his own. He made most of the improvements you now see at the ranch and elevated the staff and operation to the highest quality level possible. Big Bob dedicated himself for the next four decades to establishing Lost Valley Ranch as the premier working/guest in Colorado. And he did just that.
Today, the operation of the ranch
is in the hands Tony Warnock and his family, whom we all know as The Ranch Family.