Historic Ranching Resources of South Park, Colorado
Ranching operations represent a major component of the landscape and history of South Park. The associated historic context, The History of Ranching in South Park, Colorado, 1859-1950, traces the development and evolution of ranching activities in the South Park portion of Park County.
South Park, a broad mountain valley, varies in elevation from 8,500 to 10,000 feet. The short growing season made traditional farming difficult, but the abundance of native hay and grasses encouraged the raising of livestock. (Cover documentation accepted by National Register in 2000.)
The ranch is closely associated with the history of agriculture in the South Park area of Park County. The buildings and structures at the ranch represent the variety of agricultural functions and construction techniques from 130 years of cattle, sheep, and hay ranching. The headquarters buildings typify functional, unadorned wood-frame and log construction techniques using locally available materials of the early 20th century.
James B. Putnam homesteaded the ranch’s original 160 acres in 1881. When purchased by the Buckley family in 1908, the cattle ranch spread across more than 2,500 acres. During the 1920s, sheep replaced cattle as the primary focus of ranching in the South Park area, and the production of hay also played an important role in the successful operation of the ranch.
The agricultural history associated with the EM Ranch extends from 1874 through 1948, encompassing the original homesteading by Hardy Epperson, Aldophus Feringer’s assemblage of the large land holdings, the subsequent extensive sheep raising operations of the Chalmers and Galloway partnership, and the economic decline of the Depression years that culminated in the Ownbey family’s ownership of the property.
The Salt Works Ranch agricultural district encompasses 128 acres and includes the original homestead site settled by Charles L. Hall in 1862. A wide variety of primarily log and wood frame buildings and structures typical of a successful large-scale ranching operation remain on the site. Of particular interest is the Second Empire style main house which dates from the early 1870s.
The ranch complex is located at the western foot of Kenosha Pass. Construction dates for the wide variety of log and wood frame buildings and structures remaining on the property range from 1883 to 1948.