- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2018

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - The aroma of bacon, salty and crisp, filled Gov. Matt Mead’s ranch kitchen as his family roused to greet the long Memorial Day weekend.

With both hands wrapped around her cup, Carol Mead sipped steaming, black coffee as she recounted the estate’s history.

“This was a stage stop along the line to Pinkhampton, (Colorado),” Carol explained. “They would put up people in this tiny little house and have up to 24 guests for dinner.”

At the time, the homestead belonged to Nathaniel K. Boswell, Albany County’s first sheriff, Wyoming Territorial Prison’s first warden and one of 10 people selected to escort President Theodore Roosevelt from Laramie to Cheyenne on horseback in 1903, according to the Wyoming State Historical Society.

Mrs. Boswell would whip out six pies during the day with help from others that worked around here,” Carol said. “They were running a full-on hotel of their day.”

A straw cowboy hat resting upside down beside his plate, the governor propped an elbow on the breakfast bar kitchen island and said the couple purchased the ranch in 2001.

“My great-grandparents homesteaded a ranch in Jackson,” Matt said. “Growing up, I always thought I would end up there. Around ‘97, Carol and I decided we wanted a ranch somewhere, just as long as it was in Wyoming.”

Looking at properties across the state, Matt said they couldn’t find the right fit until they trekked down Wyoming Highway 10 and spied the Boswell Ranch about a half-mile from the Colorado state line.

“Thinking about finishing up as governor, once we had this place, we knew we were going to remain on this side of the state,” Matt said. “We just love being here.”

A COWBOY’S DREAM

Nestled in the valley between Red Mountain and Medicine Bow National Forest, the Meads’ ranch house was built a stone’s throw from the Laramie River.

“It’s a good place to raise cows,” Matt said. “We have just short of 100 head right now. We significantly reduced our herd after taking office. I think we’re gonna take a month or so to unwind after leaving office, then we might ramp up our herd again.”

With about 2,000 deeded acres and access to public lands, Matt said the area was well-suited to fulfilling his lifelong dream.

“In elementary school, I did a little essay on what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Matt remembered, explaining his mother kept the assignment in a scrapbook. “I drew a picture of a tractor, and the essay was ‘I want to be a rancher.’”

Matt isn’t the only member of the family enamored with the ranch’s sweeping vistas and lush range.

“When we come out here, we do a lot of things as a family,” Carol said. “It’s easy when we’re in Cheyenne to all go our separate ways in the morning. But here, we have most all our meals together. We’ll jump in a six-wheeler, and all go up the mountain and pick berries or watch a storm rolling in or go fishing - just fun things to do as a family.”

The Meads’ daughter, Mary, said she enjoys the abundance of wildlife roaming the grounds, and their son, Pete, blindsided the millennial stereotype by stating his favorite aspect of ranch-life was being off the grid.

“I like that there’s no cell service,” Pete chipped in.

Matt added with a chuckle, “Pete would’ve moved out here years ago.”

REST AND RELAXATION

With Matt’s second term as governor coming to a close, Carol gave the prospect of his retirement an emphatic smile and two thumbs up.

“Being governor, that’s a pretty frenetic pace to keep for a long time,” she said.

“Eight years is good. I’m sure it’s an honor and a privilege of a lifetime to serve, but it’s also nice when it’s time to hand those reins over to someone else and enjoy more time with the family.”

Matt said the time away from the capitol would give the family time to enjoy their slice of the Laramie River.

“The fishing out here is much better than we are fishermen,” he explained, joining his family in a round of laughter. “If we don’t catch fish, it’s not the fishes’ fault.”

With a veritable water park winding through their front yard, Matt said they do more than drown the occasional worm.

“We float inner tubes, and we bought a couple of those plastic kayaks last year,” he said, scratching the family dog - a speckled brown and black Great Dane named Duke - behind the ear. “I quickly figured out I could turn them over very easily.”

Living in Albany County also provides plenty of hunting opportunities, Matt said.

“I got to go hunting with my son last year, and he got his first elk,” the governor boasted, glowing with pride.

Pete straightened his shoulders and puffed out his chest a bit as he recalled the expedition.

“It was very exciting,” he remembered. “We got it in like two hours.”

WYOMING HISTORY

Hunting grounds, water access and vibrant pastures can be found on ranches across Wyoming, but Matt said this particular plot’s rich history was icing on the cake.

“In my prior job, I was a U.S. attorney (for the district of Wyoming),” Matt said. “To have Mr. Boswell’s place and be able to preserve it was special for us.”

The original portion of the main house is constructed from hand-hewn logs and several of the outbuildings were built by Boswell, who also dug an impressive irrigation ditch along the plot’s eastern border. But living in the home of one of the area’s first lawmen brings with it more history than just baking pies and housing stage coach passengers.

“Part of the story of this ranch is two horse thieves were hung in a barn Boswell built,” Matt said.

The thieves were from Larimer County, Colorado, and fled to Wyoming to escape Coloradan law enforcement, Carol added.

“The story goes they buried them somewhere on this ranch, so we’ve been running around trying to figure out where these graves are,” she said.

The ghosts of horse thieves aside, the Meads said the ranch and Albany County’s tight-knit agricultural community won them over. Though Matt and Carol plan to keep a house in Cheyenne, they said the ranch will be their primary residence, and they look forward to settling in after Matt retires.

“I think this is home,” Matt said. “You find a place like this, and it’s hard to imagine leaving.”

___

Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com

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