The Mel Just Story
The site of Snow Mountain Ranch was originally home to Carl and Della Just and their family.
The site of Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies, was originally home to Carl and Della Just and their family. Since the YMCA purchased the land from the Just family in 1965, thousands of people have had the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful location.
Carl and Della Just moved into the preserved cabin that we know today in 1899. As their family began to expand, so did their ranch house and soon enough not only did Carl and Della call it home, but so did their eight children. Living on the ranch for the kids consisted of daily chores like cleaning barns, mending fences, repairing equipment, and tending to the livestock. Life on the ranch required every family member to be on duty 24 hours a day, rarely resulting in a day off. When you are consistently that busy, days quickly turn into months, months into years and soon enough all eight children had grown up and started families of their own.
Mel Just, grandson of Carl and Della, grew up on the ranch until the age of five with his father, Harold, and mother, Theodora. Mel and his three sisters cherished every minute they had on the ranch, spending time with their family, learning from each other and of course, having fun.
According to Mel, the ranch was full of fun and games as a young child. He has fond memories of Grandma Della cutting farm shaped animals out of cereal boxes for him and his sisters to play with at the kitchen table and going fishing in the nearby creek. Each season brought a new adventure to the ranch. Mel recalls being bundled up from head to toe on cold, winter days, spending hours in the snow being pulled around on a sled. Although his time at the Just ranch was short-lived, the memories are those that will last a lifetime.
After leaving the Just ranch, Mel grew up and began working, moving all across the country, before meeting his wife and starting a family of his own. Mel is now the father to two kids, the grandfather to six, and the great-grandfather to two. Before attending a birthday party on June 22, 2019, Mel hadn’t been back to Snow Mountain Ranch in twenty years, the home to many of his favorite childhood memories.
It can be easy to forget that the vacation destination that we know today began with a single cabin. That cabin still stands today, preserving the Just family history and withholding the YMCA’s values, continuing to teach each guest that visits the importance of hard work, determination, and of course, family.