From Our Listeners

Letters: Colorado Wildfires

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Melissa Block and Audie Cornish read emails from listeners.


It's time now for your letters, and some of you wrote to us in memory of a popular tourist destination in Colorado Springs.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Ropes and saddles and steers and steaks, cowboys, guitars, fiddle and bass, little wranglers love this place, Flying W Ranch.

BLOCK: The Flying W Ranch billed itself as a step back into the Old West and featured historic memorabilia and cowboy entertainment.


But the ranch burned to the ground Tuesday in the ongoing wildfire. We talked to Aaron Winter, who worked at the Flying W for 15 years and asked him about what happens next.

AARON WINTER: Right now we really want to stress that the Flying W can be rebuilt. What we feel, you know, strongly about is the devastation that it's caused to the neighbors that live around us in Mountain Shadows, and our hearts go out to them. It's just going to take time to rebuild.

BLOCK: Candace Claybourne(ph) of Moscow, Idaho, writes: I'm greatly saddened for the people of Colorado Springs, the Air Force Academy and for all of us for whom memories of summer evenings spent at the Flying W Ranch still warm our hearts. I grew up at the academy, and each year our saddle club rode over to the Flying W for a ranch-style dinner and old-time cowboy music. Then we rode back to the stables by moonlight.

CORNISH: Michael Short(ph) of Melee, Kentucky, went on a family vacation to the Flying W Ranch more than 40 years ago. He writes: I was 12 years old. I remember enjoying the cowboy music, even though in 1966 it wasn't what a lot of 12-year-olds listened to. I also remember the dinner, going through the food line with a metal plate getting filled with hot food and one cold pickled peach.

We were told to be sure to hold the plate where the peach was, otherwise it would be too hot to carry. It was easy to pick out the ones who ignored that: They would be the ones running back to their table.

BLOCK: But Michael Short's letter goes on to say that the memory for him is bittersweet. He adds this: My mother was ill on that trip. Six months later, she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor that took her life a few years later. My father died in an accident the following spring. So this was the last family vacation we ever had.

It goes without saying that a lot of that trip is embedded in my memory. One of the sweeter memories, and there were several, was the evening at the Flying W Ranch.

CORNISH: Thanks for the memories and your letters. Write to us at Just click on contact us at the bottom of the page.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from