Bear Trap History

Clay Briggs was one of the first homeowners in Bear Trap Ranch. He has offered to give us some history and stories about the early days at the ranch.

April 25, 2012

I have been asked to write a little about the early days of Bear Trap. I first became aware of Bear Trap in 1970 when my ex wife and our two boys were out looking for some land to buy. We bought lot 93 and came down to Bear Trap in the summer. Then due to a divorce I found myself with two boys to raise and less time to spend traveling from Denver. So there is a time period when I was unaware of what was going on the ranch. I had to quit Police work and started teaching. Teaching allowed time in the summer to spend on the ranch.

There were a few more people on the ranch by this time. The big problem was the roads. Lower Twin Rocks, Teller 1, Teller 11 and Teller 9 were all dirt. The ranch roads were either packed hard or mud. If there was a hard rain you might not get off the ranch. Just west of Apache and Sioux on Apache there was a mud hole right about where the little stream crosses the road. Many a car did not make it across. There was another mud hole at the bottom of Dugger Hill. That was the first hill coming in on Sioux from the Guffey Gate. Cars going downhill hit the mud and sank. The roads in general were narrow and uncrowned. As the years went by we had a few good roads people and a few who thought they knew what they were doing. They all did the best they knew how. The roads got better and better. The interesting thing to me is that living on the ranch where everything is voluntary, people from all walks of life get a chance to do things they could not have done before. They could be on the board, on security, on the fire department, in charge of roads, or many other jobs they might not have been able to do otherwise. They could also live out a dream and turn twenty acres into a ranch. Next time I will talk about some of the early people and the problems they caused security.

April 27, 2012

I have been told that the first couple of security people charged hunters to hunt on Bear Trap. This may or may not be true but I know hunting season was a free fire zone. Hunters came in pickups and shot at anything that moved. Lance was the first security person who tried to put a stop to the war like goings on. Lance did a good job but he was out numbered. Sometime in the late eighties I started helping with security. There were still hunters that thought anybody could hunt Bear trap like the hunter I found by the spring on Sioux. He was sitting in his car smoking with a rifle thrust out the driver’s window. I ask him if he lived on the ranch. He said no but this was about the only place he could see a deer without getting out of his car. You see he must have weighed 300lbs. I helped him find his way off the ranch. Soon Lance stopped doing security he had had enough of strange people. We did not have any communication expect C.B. radio no phones. Later I was able to use the fire dept radios. If you look around for homes with C.B. antenna they will be homes that were around during this time. The number of people grew on the ranch and they began to fit the bell shaped curve. The middle of the curve were just good hard working people the right side were people who went out of their way to make the ranch a good place to live. The left 7% were the ones security had to deal with. I am not going to use their names but if you lived here you will know who they are. There was the man who lived in a chicken coop. This party did not own land on the ranch but claimed a family member did I could never find out for sure. There was the mechanic who lived in the first house at the gate and had several kids that were always into something. There was the joiner who tried to join two trailers together. There was long haul and his son. I am not sure how it all started. One side said the other stole something from them. Anyway sides were formed and we had a feud. The mechanic and the man who lived in a chicken coop were one side and the joiner and the cat lady were the other. The cat lady kept from 20 to 30 cats. Somehow the mechanics kid started a fire in the cat ladies house. They ran home and told the mechanic and the man who lived in a chicken coop who went to the cat ladies house and let it burn. The house was just a basement but still it was the cat ladies home. A Park County deputy and I worked on the case. We found people who knew what had happened and the children were charged with Arson. A few nights after the kids were charged I got a phone call from the mechanic stating he was on his way over to my house to kill me. I was somewhat taken back and all I could think of to say was to ask him if he needed directions. I never heard from him again. Soon after this the mechanic moved off the ranch.

The man who lived in a chicken coop stayed around. The man was well liked by most but I cannot remember him having a job. I think he may have done some odd jobs. About this time Lance and I started finding deer kills along the road. The kills would have very little meat taken. I think we found 12 or 13 total. One night the man came to my door with a badly cut hand. As I was trying to stop the blood and fix him up he said to me Clay I just shot a deer and an elk. Lance saw me cleaning the deer and I ran. I told him he was under arrest and called Lance and the game warden. The man was charged by Fish and Game. The next thing I know he is building a home on land he does not own. Not only did he not own the land he was building 80 feet over on the next lot. When the owners found out he was forced to tear the building down.

The joiner stayed around for awhile but he too left after getting in trouble for shooting at a hill top a Deputy Sheriff and I were standing on.

The cat lady moved away then moved back to the ranch where she passed away.

Long Haul and his son were brought to my attention when homes were found broken into. I found 13 homes broken into. They all followed the same pattern. Then an ATV was stolen and we were able to trace it to Long Hauls trailer. His son told me he had broken in to the homes looking for guns. At this time there were two dogs missing. The son told me he had shot the dogs to find out the best way to kill himself. The courts got him some help. Long Haul had a meth lab and the sheriff Dept got him some help. This was one of two meth labs I found.

Things were starting to get real quite on the ranch. I did patrols twice a day. Each patrol covered all 19 miles of ranch roads. I looked for unknown people, fires, strange cars and anything that did not seem right. All the different Sheriffs seemed to be glad we had an active patrol. The sheriffs knew my background and that helped. Next time I’ll talk about the fire dept and the ranch.

April 30, 2012

Fire Department

These articles are about the early days at Bear Trap and so I will speak to the early days of the fire dept. The first meeting I went to there were Lance, Top, Andy, Junior, and myself. We met in the old Grange Hall. The only fire truck was an old Army one ton (I think ) with a 100 gal. tank and a reel hose. Andy was made fire chief and I was asst. chief. We agreed that all positions would be nonpaying. The fire Dept was supported by the ambulance. We continued this way for several years. We had a lot of fun and did the best we could. When you have little to work with and little training strange things happen. We were asked to burn down a shed. Little did we know the shed was full of hornets. The fire got going and so did the hornets. The firemen were trying to hit the hornets with a stream of water. We were getting stung and looked like the jelly stone fire dept. Another time we were called to aid on a fire on the side of Pikes Peak. I took the little fire truck up through Cripple Creek. I thought I had turned the over heads on but no one was reacting. After I got to the fire I found I had turned on the heater. Well the heater sounded just like the overhead lights. Soon a citizen bought a real fire truck and gave it to us. This became Lance's truck and he became Fire Chief and I left the dept soon after.

Social Life

Early on we had a special group of people that understood that the ranch was different from the city. They enjoyed the wildlife and did not need to shoot everything in sight. Most summers we would have five or six bears in our yard. Yes, they made a mess sometimes but this was their land. Then too there were fewer people here. We knew we had to plan ahead to go to town and get done what we needed in one trip. Most of all we looked out for each other. Parties oh yea … we had great parties. Thanks to Kathy and Jock, Bill and Dana, Norma one and two and all the others. When someone was sick people stepped up to help. Then People began to die or move off. They were replaced by people who feed the animals killing the deer and killing the bear. People who had far too many animals on their 20 acre “ranch”. People who made it a point of killing every bear they saw. People who were self made experts that saw grizzly bears all the time when Colorado has no Grizzly Bears. We still have good parties thanks to Zimmermans, Schreckengost, and the Scheffels.

Well, remember as you read this I am an old man. I have been as honest as I can remember, if I have made mistakes let me know. As most old men, I don’t like change. I don’t understand most of today’s world. I like best yesterdays’ world when I was younger, younger is better. Say did I tell you about the lady that ran naked through the woods just east of Apache. No, well, stop by and have a cup I will tell you all about it.

May 2, 2012

From the time period I talked about in the recent days, a lot of years have gone by and I am happy to report that the new people seem to care about the land and respect the animals. The ranch belongs to them now and I see no reason it should not become the place to live. I want to thank Sue for the web site and I will see you all in August.

August 12, 2012 - The Dutcher Murders

At the annual meeting, I was asked about the Dutcher murders. It is hard to go back and look at what happened that New Years. The Dutchers were good friends of mine. Carl was a decorated hero from Viet Nam, Jody was just a kick in the pants and Tony was their grandson. I miss them all.

The whole thing started with a phone call from one of Carl’s sons. He had been trying to get hold of his dad for several days with no luck. I was asked to check on the family. The Sheriff had an officer checking at the same time. The officer was at the Dutcher home when I got there. He confirmed that both cars were in the garage. We knocked on the front door with no results. We then went to the back door and the results were the same. We were standing on the back porch when I noticed what appeared to be a bullet hole low on the side of the trailer. When you have been a cop long enough you develop a feel for when things are about to go sideways and that feeling hit both of us at about the same time. We had to go inside. The S.O. officer advised dispatch as to what we had observed and that we were going to make entry. Even though it was daylight the house was dark. We found Carl on the floor on his side and we could tell he had been dead for some time. For some reason we went back outside to talk. We decided to clear the house. The S.O. officer cleared the rooms while I covered him. We found Jody in the bathroom shot several times. I knew Tony should be there so my first thought was that for some reason he had killed his grandparents. At this point we went back outside to wait for the crime scene people to arrive. I must admit I lost it for a short time. My friends were dead. I wondered if I could have stopped the murders. I had driven by their home on New Years but had not stopped. I knew Tony had a friend staying with him a young man name Grimes. Where were they? The crime lab people arrived and I was left to guard one end of the driveway.

My home was used as the command center for a few nights. That marked the end of my involvement. Time went by and arrests were made. It turned out that a young man, named Simon Sue, had formed a club to steal guns and someday go to South America to fight. Two of the boys in the club were Grimes and another whose name I cannot remember. These two boys had stolen money from the club so Sue told them they would have to kill two people who hated Blacks. Tonys body had been found in the rocks above the Dutcher home where the boys had a fort. Tonys throat had been cut from ear to ear. Grimes had killed Tony and then Grimes and the other boy killed Carl and Jody. Carl trusted Grimes so he had free run of the home. The two boys went inside and gunned Carl down. Jody must have heard the shots and ran out into the hall way. She then went into the bathroom and held the door closed. She was hit several times by shots fired through the door. She did not die easy.

All three boys are doing life in prison.

Clay Briggs