Hereford print donated to Kremmling Library
April 5, 2010
The Kremmling Library received a new piece of art a few weeks ago when the Wheatley family donated the beautiful print in memory of Stella Wheatley.
“At His Own Pace” by Tim Cox depicts a rancher moving a herd of Herefords.
The historic ranching tradition of Kremmling was enriched by the introduction of Hereford cattle to Grand County. So important was the breed that according to Stella Wheatley’s daughter Twila O’Hotto, Kremmling once featured a sign with a picture of a Hereford and the proclamation, “Hereford Capital of the World.”
The breed, which dates back a few hundred years, was originally developed thousands of miles away in Herefordshire, England. In fact, it didn’t make an appearance in the United States until 1817, starting in Kentucky and progressing in popularity across the nation.
The breed’s journey to Middle Park is part of a traditional family story handed down to O’Hotto. Prior to cattle sales being established in cities closer to Grand County, the nearest sales were held in Omaha, Neb. Local ranchers banded together to hire a train and would shuttle their cattle north to the sale.
O’Hotto reports that one of the local ranchers spotted cattle from a moving train and remarked at their robust physique. He was informed that they were Herefords. Soon after, Herefords were a staple of Middle Park ranches.
O’Hotto’s father, Kenneth Wheatley, married Stella in 1943. They lived their entire marriage on a ranch on the Troublesome Road, now known as County Road 22. Kenneth Wheatley told O’Hotto that from the 1930s through the ’60s, most cattle in Middle Park were Herefords. Besides the sign in Kremmling extolling Hereford’s dominance in the area, local rancher Fred DeBerard earned the moniker Stockman of the Century for his group of medal-winning Herefords. Today Herefords have been replaced in the area, mostly by Angus crosses.
The print is a perfect fit for the Kremmling Library. Tim Cox specializes in depicting working cowboys, a powerful symbol for the Wheatley family and the Kremmling community. Stella Wheatley was involved with 4-H and the Middle Park Fair and served as what O’Hotto labeled as “just a rancher’s wife.” Of course, this does not imply that she was merely a rancher’s wife, rather simply that she embodied and embraced the lifestyle.
Stella Wheatley died in 2008, but Kenneth Wheatley her husband remains on the ranch. While he no longer participates in ranching, Wheatley continues the tradition by leasing his land to another generation of ranchers.
As for the Hereford breed, it remains a staple of the world’s beef producers. Its versatility has allowed it to flourish in areas with diverse climates, from Canada and Russia to Argentina and Australia. Perhaps one day it will return to Kremmling, the former Hereford Capital of the World. Regardless, “At His Own Pace” will serve as an excellent reminder of its influence on the Kremmling community.