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Lou Clark Layman

I met Lou Layman in 2009.  Born Mary Lou Clark at Derby Mesa in 1933, Lou spent her last years living in Rifle with her dog, Norman.  Not able to get around without difficulty, Lou invited me to her place to look at her photo albums and talk about her parents, both teachers in Eagle County and ranchers at Edwards.  She shared her photos with us digitally, in addition to a history of her parents and some of her poetry.  Lou graduated from the University of Colorado, School of Journalism and was hired by the National Park Service as a writer/editor in 1975.  Writing was her passion and she graciously corrected my captions if I didn’t get something just right. Lou passed away in October.  She is missed and I am grateful she took the time to share her family’s stories, our local history, in the following photographs.

Lou Clark Layman with County Fair projects: registered bull, Cran-Clay Roland, and registered heifer, Bar-Gay Anne. The Clark ranch house is in the background.

Barbara Clark in 1931, approximately 25 years of age. The photo was one submitted with applications for teaching positions. Barbara taught elementary grades in Wolcott, Red Cliff and Gilman until her retirement in 1970 or 1971.

Gaylord A. Clark in 1931, approximately 27 years of age. The photo was submitted with applications for teaching positions. Mr. Clark taught elementary school in Burns (Derby Mesa School) and Minturn, in addition to being a rancher and mine worker at various points in time.

Gaylord Clark was hired as teacher from 1933-1935 at the Derby Mesa Schoolhouse (at right in photo below).  Daughter, Lou (Mary Lou) Clark (Layman), was born to Barbara and Gaylord in the teacherage (at left) on September 12, 1933, joining sister, Barbara Jean "The schoolhouse...contained a stove (teachers in those days were expected to carry in wood or coal, fill the stove and light it as needed on cold days, carry out the ashes, sweep the floors, and dust the furniture).  There also was a desk for the teacher, enough "student" desks for the Community's children in grades one through eight, and bookcases, tables, a piano, and other equipment needed for "keeping school."  There probably was also a hand-held bell the teacher could ring to announce that recess was over; classes were to begin again.  And of course there were the requisite two small buildings out back marked "boys" and "girls."--Lou Clark Layman

Derby Mesa Schoolhouse and Teacherage 1933

At school age, Lou attended the Edwards School and Barbara Clark taught at Wolcott.  The family resided on the Bar-Gay Ranch, originally the Hawley place.  Gaylord and Barbara Clark bought the house and outbuildings; the land was a school section which they leased for 99 years.

Eighth graders lined up at Edwards School, Spring of 1946. From L to R: Duke Reynolds, Lou Clark, Wanda Terry, and Johnny Reynolds

Adjacent to the ranch was Wilmor Lake.  "The lake--bigger than the one that remains since Interstate Highway 70 was placed on the north side of the Eagle River--was wonderful to swim in.  It was clean, and it was cold, but not icy.  A clean spring fed it, the spring from which we also hauled home drinking water in milk cans." "Highway signs added sometime in the 1980s or 1990s designate it as 'Wilmore' Lake, but in the 1940s the name came from a 'railroad house'--a small building near the railroad track that probably was used to store equipment that the railroad needed.  The small building was marked 'Wilmor'--no letter 'e.'  That is the name given it by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGWRR); I don't know the origin.  I saw 'Wilmor' not once, but repeatedly in the next few years as I road my horse past and as I learned to drive on the back dirt road that led to Red Canyon.  So to me, and to anyone else who was there in 1946, spelling the name 'Wilmore' is just plain wrong."--The Clarks of Eagle County, p.6.


Lou Clark and Bob Waldvogle swimming at Wilmore

Lou graduated from Eagle County High School in 1950 and pursued her love of writing.  She leaves us with a feel for what Edwards, Colorado, was like in 1951 in this photo of Highway 6 & 24 in Eagle County.  Wilmor[e] Lake would be off to the right.  The Clark Ranch (Bar-Gay Ranch) is on the left at midfield.  Bellyache Mountain is in the background.  The Ranch house was roughly where St. Clare of Assisi Church is today.

Now part of Edwards, Colorado


What a great post! I love the pictures, and am sorry she passed away.

She loved and appreciated her life growing up on a ranch. I bet Norman is devastated.

does anyone have photos from the derby mesa school house? Im trying to find anything I can on my grandpa Stanley A. River. All I know is his family is from Sweetwater and lived in burns for many many years...

This article was a great find! My grandma knows all the people in the photographs!! Love the history!!

I'm glad you found it, too! Jaci Spuhler Local History, Archives Eagle Public Library, EVLD PO Box 240, 600 Broadway Eagle, CO 81631 970 328-8800 "Archives: hoarding made legitimate."

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