From mid-November through the end of December, the Parks & Open Space Department and local woodworking community will exhibit creations such as functional art, turned bowls and vases, furniture, musical instruments, wood sculptures, and folk art. The work exhibited will celebrate the history of the Ramey Homestead, one of the county’s now-protected riparian landscapes just west of the Town of Hygiene.
The tree used for the creations, estimated to be 140 years old, succumbed to the thousand cankers disease and was cut down in 2018. It lives on through the creativity and talent of a diverse group of woodworkers.
Woodworkers consider black walnut wood to be one of the finest North American lumber species, one that is both beautiful and workable. In 2019, the department reached out to the woodworking community to offer it to the public at no cost and was overwhelmed with requests from more than 350 interested woodworkers. A lottery system whittled down the number of recipients to 84.
The Story of the Tree
For hundreds of years before the area was homesteaded, the land on which the black walnut tree thrived was home to numerous indigenous peoples that included, but was not limited to, the Ute, Arapaho, and Cheyenne.
The story of the Ramey Homestead black walnut tree begins in 1861, when George W. Webster and his friend, Charles C. True, traveled from Iowa to the Pella area of Boulder County to farm and raise livestock on the 160-acre property. Webster made numerous journeys to and from California to visit relatives and purchase nursery stock to sell and plant in the area, including the black walnut tree.
The property became known as the Ramey Homestead in 1923, when the son of Charles C. True sold the property to Charles and Ellen Dawe. Their daughter, Ellen, married Edwin Ramey in 1923, and one of their sons, Charles Ramey, farmed the property until his death in 1998. Charles Ramey’s nephew, David Sevier, sold the property to Boulder County in 2001.
The department completed numerous historic preservation projects since 2001 to provide future public access to the exteriors of the buildings as part of the proposed St. Vrain Greenway Trail, a planned multi-use trail between Lyons and Longmont.
The September 2013 Flood severely damaged the property and the buildings. The barn partially collapsed, and the granary completely dislodged and floated approximately 130 feet east of its original location, losing the entire east wall. In 2016, the department restored the granary and barn to its preflood condition. In a testament to the property’s historic significance, the Ramey Homestead was listed as a Boulder County Historic Landmark.
Walnut Wonders Exhibit
For more information, including how to view the exhibit and purchase items, please visit boco.org/woodworking.
Boulder County Parks & Open Space Foundation
A portion of the sales from the exhibit will be donated to the foundation, which supports the department. The foundation relies on the generosity of individuals, other foundations, corporations, and proceeds from events, such as Walnut Wonders, to reach its goals. To learn more or to donate, visit PreserveBoulderCounty.org.