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McLaughlin Road – named after whom?

In March, David Wismer, current owner of Shamrock Ranch, a 2,586-acre working cattle ranch off Highway 83 in Black Forest, held a signing party at the Black Forest Community Center for his new book, “Shamrock Ranch, Celebrating Life in Colorado’s Pikes Peak Country.”Wismer’s book tells the history of the Shamrock Ranch from the time it was part of the Louisiana Purchase to the present day.In telling the story of the Shamrock’s several owners, Wismer talked about Clarence Thurston McLaughlin, a.k.a. “C.T.” or “Mac” McLaughlin, a Texas oil man turned rancher, who owned the Shamrock from 1953 to 1975.While Wismer does not claim McLaughlin Road in Falcon is named for the McLaughlin who owned the Shamrock, it certainly is within the realm of possibility.At any rate, McLaughlin’s story, set in a time of boom and bust, is certainly worth telling.All of the information in this article is from Wismer’s book.Born in Pennsylvania in 1897, McLaughlin served stateside in the Army Air Force 503rd Aero Squadron during World War I. He mustered out with $60 in his pockets and headed to Burkburnett, Texas, where he worked as a roughneck in the oil fields – skills he’d learned as a youth working in his father’s Pennsylvania oil business.Within a few years, McLaughlin started his own drilling business, using a rotary drilling rig capable of drilling wells faster than the commonly used percussion drilling rigs. He was soon drilling wells all around north Texas.McLaughlin was working a Shell Oil Company contract in Snyder, Texas, when the Great Depression hit. There, McLaughlin met an attorney who advised him to buy ranches in foreclosure.McLaughlin took that advice to heart; and, by the time World War II started, he had built up a 5,200-acre ranch in Texas, where he raised prized sheep and cattle.During the war, McLaughlin’s oil business declined when work and drilling supplies became hard to get.After the war, the Texas oil boom was back; and, in 1948, oil was discovered near McLaughlin’s ranch. Soon, McLaughlin had 13 rigs drilling on his ranch, and his first royalty check was more than he had paid for the ranch.As royalty checks rolled in, McLaughlin bought more ranches in Texas and a 31,000-acre ranch near Las Vegas, N.M. On Sept. 15, 1953, he purchased the Shamrock Ranch for $140,000 from James McCullough, former mayor of Colorado Springs.A year later, McLaughlin bought the Bar X Ranch, north of Hodgen Road at Black Forest Road, and then a ranch near Ramah in the northeastern corner of El Paso County.At the peak, McLaughlin owned 10,000 acres in Colorado, raising Hereford and Black Angus cattle. In later years, McLaughlin raised Belted Galloway cattle, also called “Belties,” whose distinctive white abdomens sandwiched between black fore and hindquarters earned them the nickname, “Oreo cookie cows.”In 1954, when it was decided to build the Air Force Academy just 10 miles from the Shamrock Ranch, McLaughlin became a director of the nonprofit Air Force Academy Foundation, which raised $1.75 million toward the construction of the Academy’s Barry Goldwater Visitors Center.McLaughlin and his wife Claire typically spent summers at Shamrock Ranch and became well known for hosting parties attended by friends such as Gen. Robin Olds, commandant of cadets at the Air Force Academy; Gen. Earle E. Partridge, commander of the North American Air Defense Command; and Fred Korth, secretary of the U.S. Navy during the John F. Kennedy administration.Guests at the Shamrock included celebrities, too, such as Jimmy Stewart, who married Gloria McLean, owner of property near the Shamrock; and Robert Norris, who played the “Marlborough Man” in cigarette commercials and remains one of the largest property owners in El Paso County.As a member of the Texas Democratic Executive Committee and the party’s director of finance, McLaughlin also counted Lyndon Johnson as a friend. In 1962, then Vice President Johnson gave the Air Force Academy commencement address but stood up those expecting to dine with him in favor of a helicopter ride to Shamrock Ranch for a visit with McLaughlin.McLaughlin was also an avid supporter of Rodeo Week in Colorado Springs and a board member of the Cowboy Hall of Fame.McLaughlin died at his Texas ranch July 29, 1975. His son, attorney Mark McLaughlin, managed the Shamrock and two other Texas ranches for several years but sold the Shamrock in 1980 because he didn’t have time to manage it.Denver resident, Ed Pendleton, bought the Shamrock and turned it into a Kentucky-style horse breeding ranch.When Pendleton couldn’t meet his interest payments, a group of investors, including the ranch’s current owner, bought the ranch and sold off some of its acreage for development.Classic Homes built homes on 1,000 acres, and today’s High Forest Ranch development was once part of Shamrock Ranch.

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