Explore Mo-Ranch’s grounds, worship spaces and lodging areas, and you’ll find that they are filled with a multitude of stunning, one-of-a-kind details—but its treasure trove of decorative ironwork is arguably one of the ranch’s most impressive features. The ironwork is the craftsmanship of Erich Riesel, a talented and classically trained ironworker from Magdeburg, Germany. Riesel found his way to the Texas Hill Country and was discovered for his artistic gifts by Mo-Ranch’s former owner and Houston oilman, Dan Moran, and his good friend and Conoco executive, Ernest Nicklos.
For five years, Riesel worked tirelessly to endow the ranch with the ornamental ironwork that continues to evoke admiration and wonder in Mo-Ranch’s guests today. His artistic creations can be found everywhere—from the ranch’s front gates, chandeliers and railings, to lamps, the chapel and a myriad of other ornamental works of art all across Mo-Ranch’s sprawling 500-acres.
In less than two decades, the historical ironwork that adorns Mo-Ranch will be 100 years old. Sadly, much of it is in need of restoration and refurbishing—the results from almost a century of changing seasons and weather.
Thanks to supporters such as Candace and Bob Leslie, a few restoration projects have already been completed over the past few years—the chapel gate, decorative work behind the swimming pool and, most recently, the ramada lamps.
Steephollow Forgeworks, a talented blacksmith company based in Bryan, Texas, has completed the restoration work so far, and they have returned the ironwork in its original condition, including replacing missing parts that are replicated perfectly in Riesel’s style. Much more restoration work is still needed due to the vast size of the ranch’s collection. Larger projects still await that require more support from other Mo-Ranch lovers to continue restoring Mo-Ranch’s beloved ironwork and protect its storied history.
For Candace and Bob, the ironwork that graces Mo-Ranch’s grounds is symbolic of what makes Mo-Ranch such a special and unique place.
“I can only trust that somehow the work and the means to support the Riesel Ironwork Project will come about to care for this priceless piece of Mo-Ranch,” said Candace.
To learn more about the Erich Riesel’s ironwork, one of Mo-Ranch’s greatest legacies, pick up a copy of “From Forge & Anvil,” co-authored by Candace Leslie and Diane Hopkins-Hughs. Copies can be requested by contacting the Mo-Ranch Bookstore.
To support this project and continue the preservation of Mo-Ranch’s unique history, click here.