Abner Sprague

Few characters embody the feisty spirit of the American West as purely as the intrepid Abner Sprague (1850-1943). He arrived in Colorado as a boy of 14, destined to become a land and railroad surveyor, carving his homestead in a rugged wilderness. He would witness the advent of “dude ranch” tourism, as Easterners and Midwesterners flocked to his ranch, leading to his famous quote, “There’s more money in milking tourists than in milking cows.” His mountain adventures were legendary, once finding himself lost in an 1896 blizzard on the Continental Divide—and later scaling 14,259-ft. Longs Peak at age 74, fifty years to the day of his first ascent. Cantankerous to the end, he made national headlines in 1941 when he tried to enlist himself in World War II at the age of 91.