Organized in 1897 to promote Community Service and Philanthropy in Ouray County, Colorado.

Joan Chismire

Board President, Ouray County Ranch History Museum (OCRHM)

by Kathryn R. Burke

With optimism that an opportunity would eventually present itself in finding a more permanent home for the Ouray County Ranch History Museum, Chismire and the board worked tirelessly toward that goal. It took ten years.  The museum started out in the historic old Colona School Building, where it had two rooms for exhibits, but she they always hoped for more space.  “We had been exhibiting our collection, or what we could of it, there from 2007-2017, over ten years,” Chismire explained.

And then it happened.  The museum was able, with the help of doner-secured financing, to purchase to help facilitate the purchase of the old 1893-railroad depot in Ridgway, Colorado.  The Mitchell family, which owned the building, offered to sell the building to the museum.  When the building became a private residence in the 1960s, it had been moved from it’s original location (where the Mountain Market stands today)on the west side of Railroad Street near the Town Park gazebo to it’s present location.  The musem’s purchase of the depot was completed in September, 2016.  Moving the museum’s collection began in January, took over four months, and was completed in  January May 2017.  

“We started our quest for a new location in 2015,” Chismire said. “We had advertised in the local newspaper that we needed land, needed space, for showcasing some of the pieces we had acquired.”  The museum collection had long-since outgrown it’s space, and had been storing exhibits in various locations. Following the call for space, donors the Mitchell family contacted the museum, and Chismire was able to put the deal together. with help from donors, the building was purchased and became the ranch museum.

The museum now has 10 rooms instead of two and plenty of room for outdoor exhibits that had previously been stored at various locations.  Chismire and her all-volunteer staff The OCRHM board, all volunteers, worked through the winter to set up the exhibits and get the museum ready for its opening in July last June.  The results are outstanding.  

The ranch museum is open from Memorial Day through mid-September, Friday & Saturday 10 am – 3 pm. Sunday noon – 3 pm. Monday 10 am – 3 pm,  and by appointment. Museum admission is $3 per person or $10 for family. “We have heat now, and ADA-compliant public restroom facilities, so we can open to visitors any time of the year for the first time since the museum opened,” Chismire said.  Please come visit our community’s historic beginnings and sign up for a membership so you can visit often and help support the museum.


WCOC Monthly meetings are held from 1-3 pm on the third Tuesday every month in the San Juan Room of the Ouray Community Center. Regular meetings feature “Uncommon Women: Uncommon Lives” with guest speakers who have interesting and unusual occupations for a woman. The public is welcome. Click here to view the list of past and future guest speakers.