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Terry Bison Ranch Train Trip 7/9/2016

by Chris Guenzler

Robin and I arrived at the Terry Bison Ranch, received Cabin 1 and purchased two 4:30 Bison Train Tour tickets.

Terry Bison Ranch

The company started in 1993 when Ron Thiel originally bought the Terry Ranch for the purpose of raising Bison. Dan Thiel, the son of Ronald and Janice thought it would be a great idea to start a company that would allow people to be able to get up close and personal to the "great North American Bison". Of course after over 1 year of red tape "Jan Thiel Inc." dba Terry Bison Ranch Resort became a reality.

Back in the beginning of our history there was no Senator's Restaurant as they would serve chuckwagon dinners in an old barn called the Wagon Wheel. This building only had 3 walls and a roof and the food was cooked at the old Cookshack building. (This building is now the photo shop at the Depot). Back in the early years the 7XL stables hadn't been created yet as we had another company that provided the trail rides for our guests.

We didn't feel that our guests were getting the proper attention so Dan started Horseshoe Bison. The horseback tours had to change over the years due to the major drought that Wyoming was experiencing during the 90's. Because of the drought, Ron Thiel with Iron Mountain Bison had to change the landscape of his grazing operation. He introduced "Holistic Grazing" which forced him to put up fencing and change the landscape throughout the Ranch to herd the Bison from pasture to pasture. This of course changed the way we had to do our tours and horseback riding. That is how the horseback tours at the 7XL stables came to be the way they are.

Every year we try to make an improvement somewhere at the Ranch whether it was the addition of the Gazebo, or the Stone entrance into the Ranch, or the addition of the Pershing Room at the Steakhouse. It seems that there is always a need for something neat and cool. This year we are going to try to lay some grass on the South side of the Gazebo so that our guests that book birthday partys with the Kid Corral will have a nice grassy area to enjoy. We are also building an array of standing planters and flower boxes for beautification of the Ranch. Behind the Bunkhouse there will be a large greenhouse to not only grow our flowers for all the planters, but also to grow tomatoes for the Senator's Steakhouse. Don't let me leave out the Chicken Bus too...... This is going to be something we feel is really cool. The bus will be a movable vehicle that will be the home to a bunch of egg laying hens. This will be an organic egg that will be available for purchase in the Trading Post. All these chickens will be cage less pasture laying chickens.

TRX Train Tour

Back in the old days we ran either buses or trolleys through the pasture which would sometimes get stuck due to a rain storm or excessive standing water. The Trains have now eliminated those issues.

Way back in 2002 while trying to think of a way to have a more efficient Bison tour, Dan Thiel, Ron Thiel and Wes Ammons went way out on a limb and thought about how cool it would be to have a real train running on rail while doing the Bison tour. At the time, we thought the idea was more of a "pie in the sky" and not realistic yet here we are today with an array of different trains for different uses.

First unit went into operation in 2004; we currently have six locomotives and added a new enclosed 90 passenger car. Tours run everyday of the year except Christmas Day, run on standard gauge rail and are handicap accessible. The train crosses into Colorado during the tour.

Our stay at the Terry Bison Ranch

We drove over to Cabin 1 and it was a fantastic cabin except for the Internet but I worked on the Fort Collins story.

The train has a bison in front of it.

Horseback riding is another attraction offered to guests at the Terry Bison Ranch.

The bison have stopped the train.

Once it moved the train moved on.

The porch of our cabin. Robin then took a nap while I worked on the Fort Collins Trolley story and at 4:10 PM I awoke Robin and we went to ride the train.

This is the train we are going to ride. We boarded and soon we were off on a two mile train tour.

We first went by the rodeo horses.

Next we passed two ostriches.

Then came the llamas.

Next the birds with the attitude, more ostriches.

More horses were seen next.

That was followed by the camels.

The train took the sharp curves very slowly.

Other buildings on the Terry Bison Ranch.

This stream runs through this part of the ranch.

The old sheep dog pens.

Looking back to the front of the ranch.

The other railway equipment on the ranch.

It looks as though another locomotive has arrived on the property.

We were moving towards the peace marker on the ranch.

The train crossed this little stream.

The statue of the buffalo at the peace marker.

More railroad equipment along our route.

This locomotive did not like the tight curves on this railroad.

The grave of Tinker the Buffalo who had lived to the ripe old age of 35 years. Tinker was born in 1975 in North Dakota and was a Champion Bull within the North Dakota Bison Association. Ron Thiel purchased Tinker in 1986 to become the breeding bull for the Terry Bison Ranch. He has been seen by thousands upon thousands of visitors from all over the world. Visitors marvelled by his magnificent size of over 2,250 pounds. Countless photos have been taken of him during his 31 years of breeding, and we estimate that he has produced over 1,200 calves during his time as a breeder. Tinker had a pretty good life for being a Bison Bull as he relished in all of the attention that he received from all the different people. He has been tremendously missed by all of our returning guest and staff whom have taken good care of him throughout the years. This is the type of animal that will never be replaced as the "Grand Daddy of a Bull" that he always was.

Now we will watch an employee on a motorcyle herd the buffalo towards us on the train.

Where else can you see buffalo up close and presonal? What a great train riding experience!

Great views can be had aboard the Terry Bison Ranch Train.

The stream again.

The Colorado signpost as we entered Colorado.

There is a mule deer in this picture.

Nearing the Wyoming state line.

Here is the sign on the Wyoming state line.

Looking over at the buffalo herd.

Our cabin is the one on the north end.

Other railroad equipment on the Terry Bison Ranch.

The riding horses. We completed the train ride, thanked our operator and put some funds in his tip jar.

Robin on a jackalope.

The back of our cabin. We walked over to the Senators Restaurant and I had a sirloin which was one of the best I had ever eaten. I had to walk over to the lobby and sat outside to upload the Fort Collins story before writing this story.

Two more views from Cabin 1. I finished this story and successfully uploaded it then phoned Elizabeth to proof it before calling it a night.