Purgatoire River Region Survey

Surveying a homestead in Las Animas County

Cultural Resources in the Purgatoire River Region

With funds from Preserve America, the Department of Local Affairs, and the Colorado Historical Society’s State Historical Fund Colorado Preservation is initiating a project to survey historic sites in Otero and Las Animas Counties.  With most of the region divided into large ranches, there are many undocumented historic resources on private lands. With cooperation from local ranchers, we have a unique opportunity to identify and document these resources. Professionals will survey archaeological resources, historic buildings, and cultural landscapes on private ranch lands as well as the communities of Hoehne, Kim, Model, Timpas, and Branson. The survey will produce a historic context study, survey forms, and a survey report with historic preservation recommendations.

Approximately 500 historic sites have been identified during the reconnaissance-level survey. This spring the architectural and archaeological survey teams will together select resources from the reconnaissance survey to further evaluate at an intensive level. The selection of resources will depend on a variety of factors including physical integrity, significance of the resource, and possibility for heritage tourism use.  The current project also includes the preparation of a historic context study, which presents a thematic overview of the history of the area, identifying historic resource types associated with each identified theme. This study synthesizes primary and secondary source research on the development of the area with the results from the field survey. Themes identified in the historic context study include homesteading, community, education, transportation, farming, cattle ranching, sheep herding, cowboy culture, Hispanic settlement and culture, religion, and water.

Reconnaissance Survey:

  • A survey team composed of architectural historians and archaeologists will photograph and note the location of all resources more than 45 years old.
  • A reconnaissance level survey form will be completed for each collection of resources identified (i.e. an isolated building on a ranch would get a single form while a grouping of structures such as a windmill, corral, and shed or a collection of archaeological features would get a single form).

Historic Context Study:

  • This document will present a thematic overview of the history of the area and will identify historic resource types associated with each identified theme.
  • The study will synthesize primary and secondary source research on the development of the area with the results from the field survey.
  • All property owners participating in the survey will receive a copy of the historic context study.

Click here to read the historic context study and survey report.

Intensive Survey:

  • Following the reconnaissance-level survey, a selection of the most significant resources will be studied at the intensive level.
  • Intensive-level survey includes a detailed description, site maps, historical background, and an assessment of historical integrity
  • Determination of eligibility for listing

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Featured Project

4 Bar 4 Ranch

Homesteaded in 1895 by Dick McQueary to provide a stop for the Georgetown Stage Line, the 320-acre 4 Bar 4 Ranch has strong ties to Grand County and Colorado's heritage. The Georgetown Stage Line traveled on the road through the 4 Bar 4 Ranch from Idaho Springs to Hot Sulphur Springs over Berthoud Pass. In 1895 a roadhouse and stage stop were constructed on the ranch. The hotel and barn were constructed using trees from the Ranch property, and the hotel remained open for travelers coming over Berthoud Pass by horseback and wagon until 1913. With the coming of the automobile, the roadway over Berthoud Pass and through the 4 Bar 4 Ranch was considered an integral part of the Trans-Continental “Midland Trail” highway. Following the closing of the stage line, the ranch continued to host travelers until 1912 or 1913 when it was purchased and converted into a Ford Motor Company . Ford vehicles were sold here until 1917, when Harry Larkin purchased the ranch site. Today emergency efforts are underway to ensure it survives through the winter. Donations are in need. To learn more, contact Jennifer Orrigo Charles at jorrigocharlges@coloradopreservation.org.

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