Bartley Marie Scott

Bartley Marie Scott, known as Marie, was a cattle rancher in Ouray County. She mastered frontiers, both as a single woman in a man’s world and as a pioneer of ranchland management and natural resource stewardship. In the vast expanse of western Colorado, Scott elevated the status of women single-handedly: she convinced men that she could do their work better than they could.

Scott quit school after the eighth grade but refused to be confined to the domestic sphere of women. Buying her first homestead at age 16, one of the alpine meadows at the foot of Dallas Divide, she built her first herd from unwanted calves. She compiled her acreage during the Depression by careful buying, trading, and selling. By the time she died, she had amassed and then redistributed over 100,000 acres, much of which is still preserved as productive ranchland.

Scott achieved equality largely through her work ethic. She worked long days alongside her hired hands and would not ask anyone to do chores she would not do herself. She was active in the Cattlemen’s Association. She was a tough survivor who exercised ranchland philanthropy. She was quick to help others with needed food, by offering jobs, tending the sick, or helping pay a mortgage. Realizing she would die without heirs, she started to sell parcels to friends and workers at generous prices and willed her land in the same pattern, always requiring the recipients to steward the land properly.

Scott was among the first in her region to diversify into grazing cattle with sheep, to plant native grasses for erosion prevention, and to lease pasture and cropland, but only if the renters used sound practices. She carefully bred Hereford cattle to get renowned specimens of “the best cattle on the Western Slope.” She also built her expertise in water rights to the level of legendary: her ranch was one of the biggest irrigation projects in the area. At less than five feet tall and 100 pounds, Scott was one of the largest and most legendary women on the Western Slope.