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(Bloomberg) -- Property developer Ronald Boeddeker and his wife, Kitty, were never interested in hunting.
But one day in 1991 they found themselves at the Safari Club International’s hunting convention in Reno, Nevada, accompanying Kitty’s brother Matt as he explored booths. Adrift in a sea of camouflage apparel and buck knives, Kitty wandered into a small realtor’s stall, where she saw a collection of ranches near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, listed for sale.
“She showed them to my dad, and he was, like, ‘Well, we’ll take a look,” recalled Cary Krukowski, the duo’s daughter, in a recent interview. “But we went there on an initial trip just to look at it, and he was, like, ‘Huh, something must be wrong with this place, because it’s too good to be true.”
After sending out a team of surveyors, Boeddeker, the founder of the Santa Barbara-based Transcontinental Corp., which developed Lake Las Vegas and the Waikoloa Beach Resort in Hawaii, bought the combination of deeded and leased acres— more than 200,000 in total— for what Krukowski estimated was in the “tens of millions” of dollars.
“It fit all the criteria,” she said. “Not too far from the West Coast, near a ski town, and with a lot of water.”
The family improved upon— and expanded— the property, Cross Mountain Ranch, over the next 25 years. But after Boeddeker died in 2010, Krukowski and her siblings dispersed across the country. “It just got difficult to spend as much time as we wanted there,” said Krukowski, the president of TC Entertainment, a Denver-based concert promoter and event manager.
Faced with the burden of managing a piece of property 15 percent larger than all five boroughs of New York, the family put the ranch on the market for a clean $100 million, listing it with the Mirr Ranch Group.
When they bought the land in 1991, there were only a few extant structures, most of them falling down. “There was the main headquarters, which we called Willow Creek, along with a house and a barn that was quite old, from the 1900s,” Krukowski said. There was also an old Victorian house, and—after they added an 8,000-acre parcel in 1992—the land came to include an historic stagecoach and mail stop.
The ranch comprises 56,050 acres, plus a 168,000-acre wildlife preserve that the family has leased from the National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, and State and Park Service lands.
There are mountains, 20 miles of river, forests filled with aspen, spruce, pine, and fir, pasture land, meadows, and canyons.
“I didn’t understand the magnitude of it until we really started to drive through it,” she said. “To get from the upper to the lower part of the ranch took an hour and a half.”
The family chose to site the house “on top of a bluff, in the middle of pastures with views of the mountains,” Krukowski said, and hired a log cabin company to build an 11,000-square-foot, nine bedroom, nine-and-a-half-bath home.
Simultaneously, Boeddeker employed a small army of workers to bring electricity, plumbing, and roads to the property. “He built roads that were never there, a driveway that was a mile long, fishing ponds, and, of course, utilities,” she said.
Things moved so quickly that the family was able to celebrate Christmas there in 1993, a little more than a year after they’d closed on the land.
In time, the Victorian house was gutted and restored, living quarters for employees were built, and “in the late 1990s, we leased out our hunting operation to an outfitter in Tennessee, and he brought in LL Bean,” she said. The outfitter had a show on ESPN, she explained, and “LL Bean, who was a sponsor, paid to build a hunting lodge.”
Once the show was over, the 4,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath structure was left to the Boeddekers, who now call the structure Fish Creek Lodge.
At the same time that they were turning it into a vacation retreat, the Boeddekers were also improving the agriculture. When they bought it, “there were maybe five employees already there, doing cattle operations and sheep herding,” Krukowski said.
Soon, her father had hired a ranch manager, caretaking couple, and people to handle the horses. “We had an [equestrian] arena built, along with stables,” she said. They grew the ranch to include more than 2,000 head of cattle and added more sheep. At its height, there were more than 30 full-time employees to take care of it all.
Even as he improved the land, her father was profoundly aware of his responsibility as “a temporary custodian,” Krukowski said. “He always said that he was just the steward for the land for the time he happened to have it,” she said. “Now, we want to make sure it passes on to its next steward.”
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