Rocky Mountain Land Library is raising money for its newest site on a mountain cattle ranch

Rocky Mountain Land Library holds 50,000 books about landscapes and natural history in beautiful locations along the Front Range. Now it has its eyes on restoring Buffalo Peaks Ranch.

The Cook House in its original state early summer 2015. (Marilyn Hunt/Rocky Mountain Land Library)
Volumes of the Rocky Mountain Land Library. (Courtesy Michael Ciaglo/RMLL)
Volumes of the Rocky Mountain Land Library. (Courtesy Michael Ciaglo/RMLL)

One of the most unusual libraries in Colorado is creating perhaps its most ambitious branch on a cattle ranch nestled in the mountains — and the Rocky Mountain Land Library has raised about $25,000 in three days toward that vision.

RMLL is the sprawling vision of Jeff Lee and Ann Marie Martin, who met as employees of the Tattered Cover bookstore. They’ve built a collection of more than 35,000 books on landscape and natural history, ably profiled in Westword.

The nonprofit aims to provide spaces to read and work in a network that spans the Front Range. In Denver’s Curtis Park, they’re restoring the Puritan Pie Factory. At Waterton Canyon, they’ve put 3,000 books in a historic water treatment facility.

Now they’re taking on Buffalo Peaks Ranch, a sprawling 1800s ranch that they’ve leased in the wide-open landscape of South Park, 100 miles southwest of Denver.

The group’s new Kickstarter aims to raise $125,000 to renovate the Cook’s House, one of the main buildings on the ranch. They’ve raised $27,000 in just about three days.

Cattle graze at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. (Larry Glass/Rocky Mountain Land Library)
Cattle graze at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. (Larry Glass/Rocky Mountain Land Library)
Cook's House Library. Sketch, site plan and floor plans by Dan Mitchell
Cook’s House Library. Sketch, site plan and floor plans by Dan Mitchell

The project will create two rooms for guests, a kitchen, a classroom and a library. It’s the first phase of a larger plan to site multiple libraries, classrooms, retreat facilities and more on the ranch.

“Whatever ideas you’re exploring, this is an optimal place to do it,” architect Ted Schultz said in a promotional video for the nonprofit.

The ranch already has hosted volunteer days, workshops and events, and it’s a home base for Colorado College field-study programs.

The renovation project is expected to be completed this summer. Work will include roof repairs, heating, plumbing and more. Oh, and one of the fundraiser offers includes a sweet tote bag.

Buffalo Peaks Ranch: The rural outpost of the Rocky Mountain Land Library. The Middle Fork of the South Platte River winds through the foreground. (Carl Young/Rocky Mountain Land Library)
Buffalo Peaks Ranch: The rural outpost of the Rocky Mountain Land Library. The Middle Fork of the South Platte River winds through the foreground. (Carl Young/Rocky Mountain Land Library)
The Cook House in its original state early summer 2015. (Marilyn Hunt/Rocky Mountain Land Library)
The Cook House in its original state early summer 2015. (Marilyn Hunt/Rocky Mountain Land Library)

Correction: The number of books in the collection is 35,000. An earlier version of this story said 50,000. Also, I called the founders “alums” of Tattered Cover but they actually still work there. Sorry about that!

Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.