Ken Caryl Ranch History File, 1940-1971
Scope and Contents
Ken-Caryl Ranch, Littleton, Colorado, began on Oct. 17, 1914, when John Charles Shaffer purchased 2,660 acres of land southwest of Denver, naming the ranch for his sons, Kent and Carroll. This collection contains historical information gathered on the Ranch by descendants of the original owners. Photocopies only of manuscripts, photographs, and newspaper and newsletter articles about the ranch and its former land owners. Includes "Ken-Caryl Ranch History" by Jo McCormick; "Memories of the Ranch" by Virginia Shaffer Devlin; and "John Charles Shaffer, Minor Mogul" by Carolyn Allers.
Conditions Governing Access
Archives collection material is non-circulating, requires staff retrieval and is available for use by appointment in the reading room.
Biographical / Historical
Ken Caryl's history begins with Major Robert B. Bradford's purchase of the property in 1859. He soon built the Bradford/Perley House, as well as a toll road ($1.50 per wagon) to aid travelers moving west from Denver in 1859. The combination of the Bradford/Perley House Inn and the toll road heading towards the mining camps proved fairly lucrative for Bradford. The construction of a competing road up Turkey Creek Canyon in 1867 (known as Highway 285 in the modern day) that replaced Bradford’s more difficult route ultimately doomed his enterprise. After his death in 1876, his widow eventually relinquished the property in 1881.
In 1895, Ken Caryl was transformed into a stable working farm when James Adam Perley purchased the house. Finding success as a dairy farmer, he and his family lived there comfortably until they sold the property to John Shaffer.
John Charles Shaffer (1852 – 1943) was born in Baltimore. He arrived in Chicago in 1874 where he worked as a grain commission trader. A few years later he purchased his first street railway company in Richmond, Indiana. From there he purchased street car lines in Indianapolis and Chicago. In 1901 he purchased the Chicago Evening Post newspaper and from there went on to acquire a string of newspapers in the Midwest. After visiting his son, Kent, who was living in Denver, in 1913, Shaffer expanded his empire with the purchase of the Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Times, and the Denver Republican newspapers.
On October 17, 1914, Shaffer purchased the first 2,660 acres of what would become Ken-Caryl Ranch for $100,000. He and his wife, Virginia Conser Shaffer (1850 – 1932), named it Ken-Caryl after their sons, Kent and Carroll. Shaffer soon built the Manor House and diversified into beef ranching. Shaffer would also purchase the Bradford/Perley House in 1926 to add to his property. Although he ran a profitable ranch for several decades, he was crushed during the Great Depression and eventually forfeited the property to the banks.
Information from https://ken-carylranch.org/community-news/history-of-ken-caryl-ranch/kcr-formation/, accessed 12/18/2020.
0.10 Cubic Feet (1 small collection envelope)
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated to the Archives by former Commissioner Dave Auburn in 2005.
Materials Specific Details
Photocopies only. Location of originals unknown.
- Language of description
- Script of description