Volume No. 18 Issue No. 1 January 2021  

  More on the history of Banning Lewis Ranch

     What was once the largest Hereford ranch in the U. S. is now a large subdivision on the eastern side of Colorado Springs. Raymond Lewis and Ruth Banning, both from ranching families, were married in 1921; in 1924, they entered into a partnership, which became known as “Banning-Lewis Ranches.”
   On the ranch, which grew to more than 30,000 acres, they raised championship Hereford cattle. Their most famous bull was Prince Domino 101. He won the 1932 American Royal and 1933 National Western championships.
   Mark Bissell's parents were friends of Raymond Lewis. Bissell, who lives in Colorado Springs, said Lewis acquired his nickname, “Pinky,” because he played football for Colorado College, where he graduated in 1914. Whenever he was playing a game or practicing, his face was always red. In 1911, with Lewis's help, Colorado College won the conference championship.
   Bissell recalled that Lewis could often be seen driving along Highway 24 in his Cadillac to check the fence line. He also said the cattlemen's association held barbecues on a bluff east of Highway 24, where they had an old train car set up as a party house. Bissell said Lewis often played poker with prominent businessmen Phil Long and Thayer Tutt.
   Ruth Banning died in 1962 following an extensive illness. In 1967, Lewis married Carla Dines after her first husband, Tom, a banker and rancher, had been killed in 1955 in an auto accident. In 1963, Lewis sold off a large portion of the ranch to a real estate developer. The remaining ranch property was sold after his death in 1979.
   Walter Dennis grew up on the ranch where his father, Clyde, was the ranch manager. “We all started working as soon as we could walk,” quoted Dennis in the January 2009 issue of “Hereford World.” He was referring to himself, his brother, Clyde Jr., and his sister, Sandra.
   After the ranch was sold, Dennis worked with the developer to preserve the history of the ranch and honor the memory of Raymond Lewis and Ruth Banning. “We are educating people about the Hereford industry that Ray and Ruth were in and developing the feel of the ranch and its history,” Dennis said.
   While the original ranch was called “Banning-Lewis Ranches,” the subsequent subdivision was called ”Banning Lewis Ranch, singular and without the hyphen.
   Today, a centrally located “ranch house” at the subdivision serves as an information/community/recreation center and posts displays on the history of the ranch. The ranch name is memorialized in a K-8 charter school in the subdivision, Banning Lewis Academy.
   Tom Dine's ranch is also remembered in a subdivision. The Dines property was known as Pound Sterling Ranch. Today, that property is Sterling Ranch subdivision.
   Editor's Note: Information for this article is, in part, from Banning-Lewis Ranches, Records, Special Collections in the 1905 Carnegie Library, Pike's Peak Library District, general description of the records. Information was also garnered from an article in the February 2011 issue of “The New Falcon Herald” by Kathleen Wallace titled “Banning Lewis Ranch – the development years,” along with an article in the January 2009 issue of “Hereford World” by Sara Gugelmeyer titled, “Dealing with Urban Sprawl,” and the recollections of Mark Bissell.
This photograph from 1935 shows Ruth Banning Lewis with two of her prize winning Herefords. Photos courtesy of Special Collections, Pikes Peak Library District.
Looking west from Highway 24, one can see open pasture on the Banning Lewis Ranch. In the far background below the mountains are new subdivisions. Photo by Pete Gawda
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