How “Calf Rock” appeared at Red Hill in 1947

Letter from Ruth Weeks Sparling

Roadside Attraction – March 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

How `Calf Rock’ appeared on Red Hill Ranch in 1947 and once fooled the owner

To the Editor:

Re: Your January 1997 edition, Page 4, “Calf Rock Remains a Mystery.”

Our family has been amused for years that the public seems to have taken our “cow rock” to their hearts! Yes, we think of it as ours, because at the time it was first painted, the ranch on which it is located, “Red Hill Ranch,” lying partly in that beautiful valley between Red Hill and Ranniker Ridge, belonged to our family. Here is how it all started.

Our parents purchased Red Hill Ranch in June of 1946 and during the following year, we moved onto the ranch (our house is now gone, but its chimney remains). By the fall of 1947, we were in residence, but our Dad (F.L. Weeks, who was noted for his white-face herd in the park) had to be away from the ranch on business a good deal of the time. One day, Johnny Cupelli, who lived in Fairplay, came out to the ranch and spoke to the oldest son, James, about painting the rock. He said he could see a cow in the rock and just wanted to put enough paint on it to bring out the features. James okayed the project and Johnny painted the rock.

A few days later, Dad returned to the ranch and seeing the “white-faced cow” in the pasture, called James on the carpet for not removing all the cattle from that pasture as he had been told to do. Dad was certainly surprised to learn that that remaining “cow” was not a cow, but that rock that most people had not noticed before. Of course, James was very pleased with himself that he had fooled his Dad, who was supposed to know his cattle! Dad came to be rather proud of that “cow” and the attention it received.

Johnny continued to paint the rock regularly (not annually) and was still doing it when our parents sold the ranch in 1961. For many years the rock was not touched up, and then one day we noticed that someone had re-done the cow — changing its breed and facial features. Whoever did the last touch-up returned it to the white-faced Hereford it started out to be. We hope it stays that way and we hope the landowners continue to allow it to be touched up from time to time.

There are four of us children and having moved to the ranch while three of us were still in school and spending a large part of our growing up years there, we consider it a part of our heritage. The second daughter of the family, Ruth, prepared the first “Red Hill Ranch” sign that hung over the drive. All of the members of our family think of the “cow” as ours, even though the ranch has had two owners since our parents sold it — the Ebel family is the second owner since our family.

Ruth Weeks Sparling Salida