Last weekend, Merrit, Trey and Tish Linke along with life long friend and neighbor Ethan Fuchs shared the history and memories of a by-gone era on a historic horseback ride over Cottonwood Pass.

This years event was a fundraiser for the Grand County Historical Association (GCHA) and Colorado Headwaters Land Trust (CHLT).  The original Cottonwood Ride was conceived by Linke to help raise funds for the Highway 9 project in 2013. Linke said, “We wanted to do something that could help both organizations and share some of our community and family history.”  

The Linke Ranch was homesteaded in 1883 by Emil Linke, who along with his pregnant wife, came to Grand County with all their belongings in a covered wagon while driving six head of cattle from Denver. The area is rich in history as Cottonwood Pass was part of the Stagecoach route back in the day.

Event participants experienced some of the rich history of the first homesteaders on the back of a horse, or in the relative comfort of a horse-drawn surrey. The surrey wagons followed County Road 55 and were guided by Colorado Headwaters Land Trust Director, Jeremy Krones. Riders on horseback followed the old trail system and were guided by the Linke siblings.

Crones said, “We didn’t set out to make a huge profit on the event. The social capital from an event like this is priceless.”  This was one of the first collaborative efforts between the GCHA and CHLT.

Merrit Linke said, “We couldn’t have done it without the help of Flintstone Sand and Gravel, Powerworld Sports, Lions Head Coffee, Dean Public house and our family.  When asked if it was going to become an annual event Merrit raised an eyebrow and said, “We’ll see.”