This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
The Rocky Mountain Land Library
The Rocky Mountain Land Library
Help transform an old cattle ranch in Colorado into a literary “home on the range” for writers, artists, and nature-lovers.
Help transform an old cattle ranch in Colorado into a literary “home on the range” for writers, artists, and nature-lovers. Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
About this project
The Rocky Mountain Land Library is excited to complete the renovation of the Cook’s House at South Park's Buffalo Peaks Ranch, the first of six main structures on a 60-acre property, leased to the Land Library for 95 years.
The finished building will include two bedrooms, a kitchen, a large classroom space, and the ranch’s first library collection, housing workshops, residencies and retreats.
As a small nonprofit, we need your help bringing this unique mountain home to life. Funds from the campaign will allow us to complete renovations in summer 2017, and welcome overnight guests soon after.
"We find our place in the world through land and stories, and the Rocky Mountain Land Library unites our passion for both."— Mark Fiege, historian & author
The Land & Our Story
The Rocky Mountain Land Library is a collection of over 35,000 books and the shared dream of two bookstore employees: to rehabilitate a historic cattle ranch high in Colorado’s Front Range as a live-in library celebrating the West — a place where people can camp and fish, study and explore.
It all started when co-founders Jeff Lee and Ann Marie Martin, who met while working at Denver’s Tattered Cover Book Store, took a trip to Gladstone’s, a residential library in Flintshire, North Wales.
Inspired by the experience of living among books, the couple began to imagine an overnight library of their own — one geared toward the American West and the Rocky Mountains. In 2013 the City of Aurora leased them Buffalo Peaks Ranch, a former cattle operation located 10 miles outside of Fairplay, Colorado.
The Collection & Locations
35,000 volumes that feature the American West while exploring the intimate ties between people and the land across the globe.
Lovingly collected by Jeff and Ann over 30-plus years, the Land Library collection will be housed in three library locations along the Headwaters to Plains Network which follows the South Platte River from its alpine origin just upstream of the ranch, to the mouth of Waterton Canyon and into the heart of urban Denver.
At Waterton Canyon, southwest of metro Denver, the Kids and Educators Library features 3,000 books hosted by Denver Water in the historic Kassler Center, Denver's first water treatment facility.
In 2016, an urban library location was identified in the heart of the historic Curtis Park Neighborhood at the old Puritan Pie Factory. After many volunteer hours cleaning the warehouse and an initial pop-up event, plans are underway to restore the Pie Factory as a multi-use, Urban Homesteading Library and learning center.
However, the bulk of the collection remains in storage, awaiting a home to facilitate public access.
"The stories of people and the land couldn't be told in a better place than this high mountain ranch, threaded by trout streams and elk trails, with traces of native tribes and early settlers still visible on the land." — Jeff Lee, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Land Library
After a long search for an appropriate property, and visits with many enthusiastic ranch owners, RMLL entered a long-term lease for 60 acres of the historic Buffalo Peaks Ranch located on the Middle Fork of the South Platte River.
The ranch is located one and a half hours from Denver at 9,196 feet in rural South Park, a 1,000 square mile grassland flat between the Mosquito and Park Mountain Ranges within the greater Rocky Mountains.
Developed by an industrious French widow during the mid-1800s, the ranch thrived as a sheep and cattle operation for over a century, but stood vacant for several decades, its tin-sided barn and wooden houses bearing the full brunt of South Park’s harsh winters. Channeling the spirit of rancher Marie Guiraud, Lee and Martin set to work cleaning up the property, and recruiting others to their cause.
The ranch has hosted two full summers of volunteer days, workshops, and events— in addition to serving as a home-base for extended field study programs for Colorado College in nearby Colorado Springs.
While South Park was made famous by the cartoon series, it remains little populated, with only 16,500 residents across all of Park County. While much of Colorado's high country has been both blessed and overstretched by ski-town tourism, Park County remains a quiet landscape dotted with historic ranches, mining claims, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation and retreat across the patchwork of protected state and federal lands.
The area's designation as the South Park National Heritage Area allowed the county to provide the Land Library funding to complete the major exterior renovations described in the Cook's House section below, in partnership with HistoriCorps.
Click here for a map of the ranch and plans for future restoration.
"The Rocky Mountain Land Library is like a gene bank for words, it's our way of saving the past for the future. The library fosters a sense of place too easily lost in our information age with virtual realities: instead it builds a world of words and stories we can get lost in — and find ourselves." — David Mas Masumoto, farmer & author
Press Brings New Waves of Support
While the Land Library's vision has captured nature and book lovers' attention for more than two decades, beginning work at Buffalo Peaks Ranch in 2013 brought a quiet frenzy of national coverage and an outpouring of support from new friends around the world.
Read and learn more about the Rocky Mountain Land Library by clicking on any of the links listed below:
- The New York Times - 'Envisioning a Colorado Haven for Readers, Nestled Amid Mountains of Books'
- Sunday Today Show - 'Small Colorado town rallies together to save a piece of history'
- The New York Times - 'Lending a Library a Hand in Colorado'
- Colorado Public Radio - 'How An Old Ranch In South Park Will Become A Home For 30,000 Books'
- The Los Angeles Times - 'Creating a unique library in Colorado'
- The Denver Post - 'Couple needs new home for 30,000-volume Rocky Mountain Land Library'
- The Fairplay Flume - 'Rocky Mountain Land Library, South Park's best kept Secret'
- The Christian Science Monitor - 'Jeff Lee and Ann Martin started a place to read about - and experience - the West'
- The Huffington Post - 'Rocky Mountain Land Library: Nature Lovers' Collection Of 30,000 Books Boxed Up, Readied For Permanent Home'
The Cook's House
Near the South Platte River headwaters sits the Cook's House: one of the primary structures at Buffalo Peaks Ranch and the focus of our Kickstarter campaign. Achieving our goal of renovating the Cook's House will provide library visitors, workshop leaders, artists, writers, and readers-in-residence with lodging and dining, as well as house a sizable portion of the Land Library’s 35,000-book collection.
Originally built in the years following World War ll to house the Buffalo Peaks Ranch cook, the building has remained dormant for much of the last 20 years. It still has solid structural bones and the aged interior is still in good condition. A successful Kickstarter campaign will provide the funds to fully renovate this historic structure. Any life-long learner will have the chance to immerse themselves in a quiet but powerful landscape while living at this rural, residential library with its wide-open skies and phenomenal view of the Rocky Mountains.
The Cook's House will serve as the ‘nucleus’ for activity at the ranch demonstrating, on a small scale, what the Land Library can accomplish on the 60-acre ranch as the project evolves. We view the renovation of the Cook's House as the first of several key stepping stones in revitalizing the ranch.
Work has already begun on the Cook's House thanks to the hard work of volunteers from a fellow non-profit HistoriCorps. In 2015, volunteers repaired and replaced the existing roof with cedar shingles chosen carefully to match those of the original roof. The project and HistoriCorps were featured in a segment Making A Difference: Giving a Facelift to Historic Sites in Ruins on NBC's Nightly News. In 2016, two more groups of volunteers returned to the ranch to paint the exterior of the building and repair and reglaze the original windows. Volunteers camped on the ranch grounds fully immersed in the ranch landscape during their days of service. Thank you to HistoriCorps and its volunteers for their efforts!
Despite this incredible start, significant work still remains to complete the Cook's House renovation. Hired professional services from licensed architects, engineers, contractors and scientists will be required to make the Cook House fully operational.
The Scope of Work Includes:
- Roof: Reinforcing the roof structure to meet current code requirements for snow and wind loads.
- Interior Walls & Ceiling: Demolish appropriate sections of the interior walls. Refinish and repair the remaining wood-paneled walls and ceiling.
- Floor Finishes: Restore the original wood floors and replace linoleum in the bathroom.
- Attic: Add new roof insulation and improve attic venting.
- Heating: Install a new heating system with a combination of radiant heat, a new boiler and solar powered pellet stove with a propane back-up.
- Plumbing: Update the water supply and septic systems. Add a new hot water storage tank. Repair the existing wells on site. Replace existing plumbing fixtures with ADA accessible fixtures.
- Electrical & Lighting: Repair and update all electrical wiring, switches and junction boxes. Repair and inspect the connection to the ranch's main power supply. Provide new exterior and interior lighting fixtures.
- Fire Detection: Install hardwired smoke and CO detectors along with a fire extinguisher.
- Millwork & Cabinetry: Repair or replace existing counters and install new appropriate counters, cabinets and shelving.
- ADA Accessibility: Provide necessary ADA Access improvements.
- Furniture & Appliances: Acquire or purchase necessary appliances and furniture to allow the Cook's House to become fully operational.
The construction costs and the funds for necessary professional and technical services are too high to be paid for from the revenue the Land Library currently generates as a young nonprofit. With the help of donors like you, we can complete this first essential step in revitalizing Buffalo Peaks Ranch while making a permanent home for the Rocky Mountain Land Library. Along with our crowd-funding efforts, we hope to share this opportunity, expanding our network of followers and friends and allow the Rocky Mountain Land Library to strengthen our connections to the land and each other.
Land Library Membership & The Founding Members Circle
The Rocky Mountain Land Library is excited to announce that Land Library memberships are available beginning with this Kickstarter campaign!
Join our community with an annual membership or become a Founding Member to receive additional rewards and recognition within the completed Cook's House. Additional RMLL Kickstarter rewards accompany each membership level during the length our campaign (see the panels on the right side of the page above for details).
All memberships received through the Cook's House Kickstarter campaign will also be active for the remainder of the 2017 calendar year in addition to the following year(s) allowing for an extra six months of membership at no additional charge!
Sponsor & Membership Levels:
Sponsor A Book in the Cook's House Library | $50: Your name printed on a unique book plate within a book on the Cook's House shelves.
- Annual Membership | $100: One Year Rocky Mountain Land Library Membership (thru 2018) + Additional KS Rewards: Sponsored Book, Digital Photo Collection, Outpost Correspondence
- Founding Members Circle: Ranch Hand Level | $250: One Year Rocky Mountain Land Library Membership (thru 2018) + Founding Member Recognition + Unique Founding Member Library Card + Additional KS Rewards: Land Library Bandana, Sponsored Book, Digital Photo Collection, Outpost Correspondence
- Founding Members Circle: Homesteader Level | $500: Two Year Rocky Mountain Land Library Membership (thru 2019) + Founding Member Recognition + Unique Founding Member Library Card + Additional KS Rewards: Land Library Book Bag, Land Library Bandana, Sponsored Book, Digital Photo Collection, Outpost Correspondence
- Founding Members Circle: Farrier Level | $1000: Three Year Rocky Mountain Land Library Membership (thru 2020) + Donor Horseshoe + Unique Founding Member Library Card + Additional KS Rewards: Land Library Book Bag, Land Library Bandana, Sponsored Book, Digital Photo Collection, Outpost Correspondence
A RMLL Library Card
20% Discount for all Workshops and Classes
Annual Newsletter Mailing
Participate in exclusive member events with the Land Library and its partners across Colorado and online
- Book borrowing privileges
Additional Campaign Rewards
Choose your campaign reward from the options listed on the right side of the page above. Our rewards have been prepared to bring the Rocky Mountain Land Library experience to anyone around the world!
While you can only pledge at one reward tier, many of the individual rewards are packaged together as you move up through the levels. See the pledge sidebar on the right for full details.
Join Us | $1: Welcome to our community! Every pledge counts and we look forward to staying in touch throughout the Cook's House project.
Digital Photo Collection | $10: Over the past few years, the Ranch has hosted several photographers who have captured images of the buildings and landscape in each season at all times of day. View these photos alongside historical photos, an area map and site plan.
Outpost Correspondence Postcard Set | $20: Send postcards from your own location featuring unique images of the rural outpost of the Rocky Mountain Land Library.
Grow Your Own Buffalo Peaks Sage | $25: Fringed Mountain Sage or Artemisia frigida thrives at the Ranch and flowers in the late summer and early fall. This sturdy shrub has a distinct floral sage scent and was historically used by Native Americans and early western settlers for its medicinal qualities in addition to stuffing for bedding and insect repellent when burned. Receive a seed packet with growing instructions to grow your own piece of the Ranch!
Land Library Bandana | $40: Whether it's used as a dust mask or a fashion accessory, we've designed this bandana with both Kickstarter backers and ranchers in mind!
Sponsor A Book in the Cook's House Library | $50: Imagine finding your name printed on a unique book plate within a book amongst the shelves of a library. These donors will be immortalized along with the books that house their names on the Cook's House shelves.
Land Library Book Bag | $75: Books, tools, produce: transport it within a screen-printed Land Library book bag featured the Library's cairn logo. This reward will be produced by Sox Place Screen Printing, a fellow non-profit that aids homeless youth in Denver.
Own A Piece of the Ranch | $100: The Ranch grounds abound with remnants of the past. These remnants can become keepsakes reminding us of the wild, high mountain plains they came from. Own a hand chosen piece of the Ranch as a reminder of an American West that still lives.
Embossed Print of Land Inspired Quote | $125: The power of the printed page is cherished at the Rocky Mountain Land Library. As a celebration of the printed page, own a limited edition embossed art print featuring your favorite of three quotes. These handmade prints include a unique design and quote embossed into 100% cotton rag, archival paper. Sizes range from 12"x7" to 8"x10". Upon completion of the campaign, you'll be able to choose from these quotes :
"The question is not what you look at, but what you see." - Henry David Thoreau
“At some point in life, the world’s beauty becomes enough.” - Toni Morrison
"Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them" - Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Land Library Books | $150:Home Land: Ranching and a West That Works and Landscape of Home are published collections of writings in the Rocky Mountain Land Series. Essays within these volumes foster an appreciation for the land we live on no matter where that may be.
Camp at Buffalo Peaks Ranch | $200: Spend the night under the stars at the Ranch with up to three friends during the summer camping season. Explore the Ranch and the surrounding areas of Park County in the central Rocky Mountain region.
Weekend Stay in the Cook's House | $1,500: Be one of the first people to stay in the completed Cook's House! You and a friend will have the opportunity to immerse yourselves in the full Land Library experience.
Manuscript Consultation with Author Ted Conover | $1,500: Colorado-raised author Ted Conover will review up to 200 double-spaced pages of your nonfiction manuscript at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. After discussing the manuscript, enjoy a drink at sunset on the porch with Ted.
Major Donor Opportunities:
- Sponsor a Cook's House Bookshelf | $2,500: Your name will be proudly and permanently displayed on one of the bookshelves in the Cook's House Library.
- A Seat at the Table...And the Table | $7,500: A finished dining room will provide a centerpiece for gathering at the Cook's House to share food and ideas. $7,500 will make this a reality while your generous donation will be forever remembered with the personal dedication of the Cook's House dining room to you!
- Everything But the Kitchen Sink | $10,000: Everyone gathers in the kitchen and much like the dining room, the Cook's House kitchen will serve as a nucleus within the building and the Ranch as a whole. This top donation will be forever remembered with the personal dedication of the Cook's House kitchen to you!
How Kickstarter Works
This campaign is all-or-nothing. If we don't reach our goal of $125,000 by Friday, April 7th, 11:59 PM, we will not receive any of the funding, and your pledges won't be charged to you. However, if we meet the goal, your pledges will be charged and we will begin fulfillment of rewards.
You can pledge at-or-above for any reward tier. When you click to pledge, you can enter any amount at or above the reward level.
You can change your pledge amount, or reward tier anytime while the campaign is live, from now until 11:59 pm, April 7th.
Beyond financial support, you can play a major role by sharing the Kickstarter link widely with your social media network, family, and friends!
We've assembled a team with a variety of skills, specialties and insights over the past years. We look forward to sharing more information about this project and seeing what we can create together with donors like you!
Credits & Recognition
Many thanks to everyone who helped us put this Kickstarter together providing beautiful footage and photographs of Buffalo Peaks Ranch!
- Lauren Winton, Molly O'Connell & Winton Media
- Jeff Hammerton, cinematographer
- Matthew Staver Photography, drone pilot & photographer
- Sten Valin, original score
- Eileen Roscina Richardson, editor
Project Image Credit: Michael Ciaglo
Additional project photos provided by Larry Glass, Carl Young, Jay Halsey, Sarah McLaughlin, Marilyn Hunt, Jeff Kanipe & Dan Mitchell.
Risks and challenges
Renovating any historic structure involves several risks and challenges. Our team includes people from all walks of life and experience to not only improve the structure itself, but to curate the Rocky Mountain Land Library experience into something fulfilling to everyone who visits. Even with a strong and diverse team, issues and challenges that we do not currently anticipate could arise.
The development of the Rocky Mountain Land Library and the Headwaters To Plains Network as a whole has taken years thus far. The funds raised through the generosity of backers like you will greatly accelerate our efforts to restore the Cook's House at Buffalo Peaks Ranch and provide a place for a dedicated library, group dining and visitor lodging. We will keep all backers updated and informed via this Kickstarter campaign and our email newsletter. Thank you for your support and sharing our story!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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