A blast from the past: Mother’s Day picnic shines light on historic women

Rock Ledge Ranch -- FOX21 News, Ray Harless

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo —  It was a blast from the past Sunday at the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, with a unique tour to the historic Rock Ledge Ranch.

The inaugural Mother’s Day Picnic in the Past allowed local families to learn about historic moms of Rock Ledge Ranch and Garden of the Gods.

“Not all of these women were famous, but they all had really interesting lives and they contributed a lot to their communities,” said Elizabeth Barber, Program Coordinator for Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center.

Barber used this Mother’s Day to share the rich history of Rock Ledge Ranch.

“People like Charlotte Sclater, who lived here in 1907, and Elsie Chambers, who lived here from 1874 to 1900,” said Barber.

Chambers helped to create Rock Ledge Ranch and a few other things along the way.

“Originally they taught school out of the parlors in the Rock Ledge house, but then later she and her husband, Robert, helped to build a little schoolhouse in this valley,” said Barber.

After the Chambers owned it, the land eventually fell into the hands of General William J. Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs in 1900.

Seven years later, Palmer built what’s known as the Orchard House for his relatives, like Charlotte Sclater.

“She actually had an interesting connection to the Chambers family because Charlotte Sclater’s sons were both taught by Elsie Chambers in the school district,” said Barber.

“The original Mother’s Day was called Mother’s Work Day and it was started in 1870 by Ann Jarvis. So her idea for the holiday was to go out and improve sanitation and conditions in the community,” said Barber.

All proceeds from the picnic benefit the Garden of the Gods Foundation.

“We’re kind of going back to that original spirit of the holiday by supporting a local park and at the same time having a beautiful afternoon experience,” said Barber.

In 1968, the city purchased the ranch and land surrounding the Garden of the Gods park. In 1979, Rock Ledge Ranch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Organizers of the event said they hope to bring the picnic and tour back for years to come.

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