Some people think that anyone who hasideas or is doing unusual things, must be crazy. Whether it is true or not you judge for yourself. This true story is about history of the unique place, about extraordinary events that changed life and about friendships that wouldn´t occur without the love to nature and animals.
In 1997, you perhaps also met a young couple in love who traveled the length and breadth of Slovakia. At a common way for big dream, Martin Rožko and Jana Štyndlová were accompanied by their faithful dog Tequila. Near the village of Železná Breznica, where the lonely cross still stands, out of nowhere Tequila ran to the meadow and disappeared. When Martin and Jana found her, they have found themselves in the place with incredible view of the beautiful countryside of Kremnické vruchy. So, after a long time wandering in the mountains and valleys, our trio found themselves in the place Pohronie, where the water was crystal clear and beautiful virgin land, the place where the history of Ranch Locomotive 38 began.
The name of the site as well as inspiration to fulfill your dream, comes from the short story by Wiliam Saroyan – Locomotive 38. The story begins the day when the Indian with a strange name Locomotive 38 appears in the village. All people think he is a poor fool, so he finds himself one only friend a boy named Aram. Unusual friendship of an actually rich Indian who spends all his free time with Aram and fullfills his childhood dreams, seemed crazy to many of the villagers. The little boy suddenly could drive the latest model of the Packard because the Indian claimed he can´t do that himself, or they went fishing, haunting. If the person does unusual things it doesn´t mean he´s crazy. Whether it´s and Indian, little Aram or in our story Martin with Jana. The might have looked like two fools to someone aswell. To build by hand a ranch with unusual name Locomotive 38, where they will breed horses,has truly started to become the reality. In the beginning, Martin and Jana lived in teepee (wigwam), they took care of their first three horses. After the diviner advised them the place with ground water, they started with digging the well. They spent the winter in self built log hut and two years later they started with major construction works. They began to dig the foundation for the building of stables and living part. Not everything worked as Martin and Jana dreamed about. Although defeated in digging the well´s 16 meters depth, they never reached the water and the first construction of the main building has fallen apart as it was wrongly built. On the second attempt, they succeeded and the fact that Martin actually built all buildings himself, has reflected in the height of the ceiling which was just right for his short height. Ranch Locomotive 38, however, was finally built.
Martin and Jana have started to offer riding courses in the stables with 13 horses, horseback riding in the countryside, the type of tourist accomodation in teepee or in your own tents and children´s camp. Through a travel agency Bubo they carried out decivilized stays, which consisted of staying out of any achievements of the modern world associated with caring for horses.
At the end of the story of William Saroyan, the Indian Locomotive 38 leaves the village in the car and never returns. For that Aram had the only possible explanation – Indian wanted him to believe that he can´t drive the car himself so he could fulfill Aram´s dream. He was basically a young man who came to the village on the donkey, was terribly bored and found fun with the little boy. Aram hadn´t any other explanation. Only, as if he would have to take opinion of all people, that he was crazy. So, in our story Martin and Jana left the ranch one day aswell. Explanations may be many, but the fact that they achieved to build the Ranch Locomotive 38 out of a dream from almost nothing, is undeniable and admirable.
But the story of the Ranch Locomotive 38 is not ending. In 2003, colleagues and friends Peter Snopko and Dodo Stanko, became the new owners of the premises. When they saw the ranch and the beautiful surrounding countryside for the first time , they didn´t hesitate for a moment. Peter has also bought it because of his girlfriend whom he wanted to make happy and Dodo have had since childhood the relationship with nature and horses as his father was a woodsman. They agreed on a common vision to build on the original site leisure facilities focused on agro-tourism. They have also lend a space in the resort to a group called Cassanova – www.cassanova.sk – a company of a bright fencers from Banská Bystrica, the company which is devoted to contemporary historical spectacles and performances. At that time they´ve had 11 horses on the ranch.
In 2004, the first reconstruction of the original building was accomplished according to the design of their common friend Peter Hadač. For instance, Pavol is the author of the acclaimed village Habakuky in Dobšinský´s fairytale world in Donovaly. Here you can see his work Habakuky. According to his design, the buffet and the part of stables were built at first on the ranch.
The last Sunday of 2005, Peter and Dodo organized The Big horse day event on the ranch, which had success with unexpectedly large attendance from all over Slovakia.
At the event the visitors had the opportunity to see the historical martial arts on horseback of 17th century, show jumping or riding in chariots. They could try archery, crossbow or learn a little more about Slovak customs and traditions. Among other supporting facilities was also an exhibition of artist Štefan Belička.
After two years cooperation of Peter and Dodo, it leads to different ideas and opinions to manage the ranch, so by the mutual agreement from 2005 the Ranch Locomotive 38 is being in hand of Peter Snopko. In the end of the summer he decided to organize the music festival Tŕniefest 2005 in the ranch area, where he invited his new partner, the shepherd Zdeno from nearby collective farm. For the vision of large earnings, he sold all the sheep for the initial capital. However, the festival did not end up according to their ideas. It enrolled to the history of our story on the ranch, but also to the music industry. For many years it was remembered in artistic fields as the largest private forest festival in Slovakia. The shepherd lost his car due to remaining debts and as if not enough his wife has fallen in love like crazy with the security guard at the festival and left with him. After the first failed attempt has Peter quickly swept and in the same year he used the campus to organize another musical festival called Punk in the mountains and a year later Save the Planet – Kill yourself / Vega Fest 2006. The Ranch Locomotive 38 continues to operate as a resort for horse breeding. The childrens camp was held here every summer aswell.
One day, as five years ago, Peter Snopko and Dodo Stanko met each other on the Ranch Locomotive 38. Peter decided to sell the ranch for personal reasons and so in 2008, Dodo is becoming the new owner.
In our story, the dreams and big plans begin to fullfill again. At first the whole area had to be cleaned of waste from previous years. For example, there were found 24 refrigerators and freezers given to the previous owner by his friends and acquaintances to them when needed. Soon, the next year the remodeling of the main building took place, extending of the riding hall and from the 16 meters deep waterless well, dug by the first owner of the ranch Martin Rožko, became the deepest latrine in Central Europe.
Already during the reconstruction there was held at the ranch an competition at panning for gold organized by the gold diggers from Banská Bystrica. When the rebuilding was finished, the events in the spirit of the Middle Ages as summer camps, derring-do tests or baroque tournament were arranged in the area. Among the most favourite events belongs the „Májová jazda“ (the May ride) which is an annual tradition in wandering on the horse back for four to five days around Slovakia. The part of tradition are contemporary suits and participation of friends who got to know each other on the ranch.
This group of people aswell visits the historical events which take place in the vicinity. Sometimes they joined with group Casanova or Via Historica – www.viahistorica.sk and attended the market in Slovenská Ľupča ,Castel Festival in Levice or Kremnické gagy.
Currently, there are 17 horses on the ranch and Dodo´s plans are slowly beginning to realize. He found the inspiration close to the Kremnica hills, where the hill Velestúr, on which the runic inscription from 19th century was discovered, is located. This site was signed as an iconic place where the Slavic priests sacrificed and presented gifts to their Gods. Dodo´s vision to the future is to rebuild the area in the spirit of slavicand return to the original customs and traditions of our ancestors.The magical atmosphere of the famous mining area is filled by recently built replica of the furnace for smelting iron ore. It is also planned to build a Slavic settlement with contemporary dwellings and palisade with quard tower.