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Letter From Sylvan Dale Ranch To The Residents of Northern Colorado

Sylvan Dale Ranch Wagon Wheel Bunkhouse Flood Damage
Sylvan Dale Ranch

Sylvan Dale Ranch west of Loveland was hit hard by the Big Thompson Flood of 2013.  The damage was even worse that it was back in 1976.  The response from the public has also been overwhelming for the family that owns the ranch.  They have written a letter to all of us who hold a special place in our heart for Sylvan Dale. My wife and I were married there 19 years ago. Here is the Letter:

Dear Friends of Sylvan Dale,

Shock and awe.  Twice in two days.

First came the massive torrent that ripped through our beloved Sylvan Dale Ranch during the pre-dawn hours of Friday, September 13.  Linda and I, and Susan and her Dave, couldn’t believe our eyes.  How could another “500-year storm” happen only 37 years after the one that menaced our parents, Maurice and Mayme Jessup?  This time, unbelievably, the destruction was even greater than the famous flood of 1976.

Second came the torrent of support and offers to help from our guests, friends, family and community members who want to help re-create Sylvan Dale.  At least two ranch guests have established social media websites for donations:

One of them is Kim Tarabetz, who was attending a conference at the ranch when the waters began to rise.  She established (

She wrote, “This beautiful family ranch was built on love. Over the years it has been everything from a refuge for troubled teens to a venue for couples to begin their married lives together, and everything in between.  This family who has given so much love and joy to their guests is now in need of help. It is my pleasure to help them begin the journey to rebuilding Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.”

Another is the Goldman family, Michael and Arlene, who stayed with us the  last week of dude season.

Michael wrote, “I want to make sure that I along with other past guests and all the potential new guests get to experience the hospitality and the beauty of Sylvan Dale for years to come. The Jessup’s didn’t ask me to do this. They are proud people who wouldn’t, but when someone is hurt or needs help, family comes to their aid. Please help rebuild Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.”  His site is (

Kim is from California, Mike is from Ontario.  Hundreds more have offered help.  One couple who married at Sylvan dale last December want to sponsor a fund raising concert and auction.  David Hart, grandson of Joyce Miller, who died of cancer after years of working at Sylvan Dale, wants to design and sell t-shirts.  Many of our staff, now unemployed, continue to volunteer.  Our cattle manager, “Mango” Stephens, has offered to do a fundraising Hawaiian luau.  An army of people with shovels stand ready to put boots on the ground as soon as access is restored.

A flood of water; a flood of support.  We are awed, and humbled, by both.  Our spirits are lifted and our determination bolstered.  But we face an intimidating task.  We’ll be assessing the damage and following up with details about reconstruction.

The good news:  People, and animals are safe, except for our dear old horse Mr. J, who apparently died of a heart attack the night of the flood.  Our Heritage Building, along with the horse barn, Susan and Dave’s house, and several cabins, are intact.  When people hike over Green Ridge, currently the only in and out of the ranch, they see emerald green upper pastures graced by a chain of ponds, waterfalls spilling off Mount Alexander, Sulzer Gulch running a new stream of clear water, and a line of trees blocking any view of the destruction along the river.  A deceptive paradise.

The message to us is clear.  Sylvan Dale is regarded not just as a private business, but as a kind of community treasure that people want to save for future generations.

If you’d like to join this rebuilding effort, the most urgent and immediate thing you can do is donate funds to the guest-created websites highlighted above.  Other volunteer opportunities will come in the months ahead.  And by the way, you can still fly fish in our trophy trout lakes, purchase our delicious grass-fed Heart-J beef, and we’re open for horseback rides this weekend to view the new river bed that Nature has created.  CALL (970) 488-0568 For direction on how to get here.

From the bottoms of our Heart-J hearts, we thank you,

The Jessup Family
David J and Linda
Susan J and Dave A

Sylvan Dale Ranch was open for riding and lessons this past weekend.

See Videos of the 2013 Destruction at Sylvan Dale

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