National and State Register

Medano Ranch Headquarters

Alamosa County

The Medano Ranch Headquarters is an important part of the development of cattle ranching in the San Luis Valley from the open range days of the 1870s through the mechanized operations of the period following World War II.

Log buildings on the Medano Ranch Headquarters in 1988.

Log buildings on the Medano Ranch Headquarters in 1988.

Photo by Mark Wolfe.

The Medano is one of the oldest continuously operated properties in the area and its buildings and structures reflect the evolution of ranching as a large-scale enterprise during the late 19th and 20th centuries.  The history of the ranch incorporates the sweeping historical themes associated with ranching in Colorado, including the driving of Texas cattle to the area in the 1870s, the entrance of eastern investors into the region’s cattle ranching, the use of sham homestead claims and intimidation of earlier settlers to acquire immense tracts of land during the 19th century, the difficulty of surviving during periods of economic distress, the continued consolidation of lands during the 20th century, and the application of modern ranching techniques and participation in stockmen’s associations during the 20th century.

Buildings on the Medano Ranch Headquarters.

Medano Ranch Headquarters.

Architecturally, the ranch headquarters is representative of the heart of a major San Luis Valley cattle ranch that began as a range cattle operation, grew greatly in physical extent as smaller holdings were consolidated, and evolved into a fed-cattle Hereford business in the early 20th century.  The buildings are classic examples of the variety of materials and construction techniques found on ranches of great longevity.  An important aspect of the buildings is their representation of the common ranch practice of recycling and reusing existing structures and joining smaller buildings together to create larger ones.  One of the buildings, the draft horse barn, reflects New Mexican influences in its design.