Lizzy Knight’s Cabin

Year Listed: 2012
County: Dolores County
Construction Date: 1881
Threat When Listed: Demolition by Neglect – Vacant

Located in the Disappointment Valley in Southwest Colorado, Lizzy Knight’s cabin and three small outbuildings are all that remain of the Lizzy Knight homestead.  Lizzy Knight was an important female pioneer in early Colorado and this homestead helps tell the colorful story of her life and the settlement of and agricultural practices in the Disappointment Valley.

Born in England, Lizzy broke traditional gender barriers and trained to be an expert blacksmith. Seeing greater opportunity “across the pond” Lizzy and her then husband homesteaded near where Hermosa Creek joins the Animas River in 1875, though by 1879 had moved to what is now Rico. Lizzy and her daughter were the first female residents of Rico, and she operated a small dairy that provided milk and butter to the booming mining camps in the area. In 1881, Lizzy divorced her husband and married her son-in-law Henry Knight (who had divorced Lizzy’s daughter) and the new couple moved to the Disappointment Valley into the modest log cabin that is now known as Lizzy Knight’s Cabin. The Knight homestead was soon the commercial and social center for the Disappointment Valley. In addition to her dairy and beef cattle herds, she also ran a store that supplied materials to the surrounding settlers. Henry became the first postmaster, but Lizzy was responsible for day to day operations of the post office out of the cabin and she also served as informal banker and lender to the area ranchers.  Lizzy lived and worked in the cabin until her death in 1914.

The site is now privately owned by the great, great, great granddaughter of Lizzy Knight, and the remaining buildings stand as the only known buildings from the early settlement of Disappointment Valley. However, the cabin is in very poor condition and is very near a state of ruin. Serious erosion has washed away much of the soil under and around the cabin. Without near immediate stabilization, the architect who has taken an interest in the site expects the cabin will likely collapse.

The owner is keenly interested in preserving the Knight homestead and making it available by permission to the public and schools in the region as an educational site.

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