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The History of the Ranches

John V. Peterson Carves A New Life
In Wild And Beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado

     In October, 1895, John Victor Kronholm departed the port of Bremen, Germany, on The Fulda, headed for a new life in America.  He arrived at Ellis Island, New York, on November 5, 1895 -- all alone and just 17 years of age.  Immigration authorities at Ellis Island changed his last name to Peterson, because it was more "American".

     John's brothers Fred, Gus, and William would join him later, but all eventually returned to their native Jakobstad, Finland.

     Reportedly, there was a woman at Ellis Island who was handing out pamphlets about Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  John took one and decided then and there that he would live in that beautiful place!

Click here to see a copy of John's actual Ship's Manifest.
Peter Kronholm, Father of John V. Peterson
Peter Kronholm
Father of John V. Peterson

From the Original Tintype
The Brazos Cliffs near Chama, New Mexico
John's first job in America was at a sawmill on the Brazos River south of Chama, New Mexico.

The image to the left shows a stunning view of the Brazos Cliffs, one which he surely enjoyed.

John could speak no English, but thanks to a cook named Mrs. Brazza, who spoke Finnish, he was able to learn the language.

It wasn't long before John headed to the San Juan Mountains for a lucrative job in the silver mines at Silverton and Telluride, Colorado.  He was a miner and blacksmith at the Gold King, Silver Lake, Minnie Gulch, and Tomboy mines.

Tomboy Mine as it appeared when John V. Peterson worked there
Shown to the right is the Tomboy Mine, above Telluride, as it appeared around 1900 when John worked there hauling rich silver ore down the steep and treacherous road to town.

Tomboy was a self-contained community, complete with houses, stores, and even its own school.  Today, Tomboy is a ghost town.

Image courtesy Denver Public Library, Western Collection

John would enjoy his days off by walking to Telluride to celebrate in all of the diversions provided by a wild-west mining town 100 years ago.  Then he would rent a horse for the ride back to Tomboy.  Once back at the mine, he would turn the horse loose and it would find its way back to the stable in Telluride.

Around the time of the violent Miners' Strike of 1905, John moved to Durango and hauled grain to Thompson Park, then later worked for Foy Thompson at his ranch on the Florida River.

Narrow Gauge Log Car The Pagosa Springs area (including Pagosa Junction and Edith, NM) was John's next move.  He took a job as a blacksmith and logger for Newton and Sullenburger where he became well known for the high-quality Ox Yolks he made.  One is on display in the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, and another can be seen in the museum at Pagosa Springs.

This image shows John (4th from the right) atop a carload of logs loaded for market.  Click it for a larger view and more information.

John and Goldie Peterson on their Wedding Day in 1910
John married Goldie Gregory on December 20, 1910, in Pagosa Springs.  The image to the left was taken on their wedding day.
Click the image for a larger view and more information.

Goldie was born in McLean, KY, on the Fourth of July, 1889, and moved to Pagosa Junction with her family in 1901.  They moved to Pagosa Springs in 1905, where Goldie's father worked with John at Newton and Sullenburger's mill south of town.

Sullenburger's Pagosa Lumber Company circa 1904
In 1914, John and Goldie moved their sawmill shack from Edith, NM, to the Bayles Community near Pagosa Springs.  They set it by the old Durango Highway on land they had purchased from the lumber company.  The ranches shown on this web site are part of the original 1,600 acres that John and Goldie bought for fifty cents an acre!

Sullenburger's Pagosa Lumber Company (right)
Image courtesy Denver Public Library, Western Collection

The old Ranch House circa 1935
In 1925, John and Goldie built their new house from timbers harvested on the ranch.  The old house was dismantled and re-fashioned into what is now the garage/shop on the Victor Ranch.

There were six children born into the family.  The youngest, Jack, was born in the downstairs bedroom of the ranch house.  His daughter, BilliJo, was later born in that same room.

All told, four generations of Petersons have lived on the ranch over the past 87 years.

Check out this video of Glen Canyon before the dam was built! Two of BJ's uncles rode there on horseback to take one last look at it before the waters covered thousands of years of history.

Glen Canyon video

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