In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson granted 320 acres of public land in Colorado to a Mr. Robert L. Allen as part of The Homestead Act. One hundred years later, my husband and I bought 40 acres of the original 320 to carve out our own homestead dream. We named it County Road Ranch. Not much has changed on the property, and we suspect it looks much like when Mr. Allen owned it.
We have long dreamed of a rural life, in a place immersed in nature. Where the air is pure and the sky is dark. Where the views from our front porch rival any painting we could buy. And the simple pleasure of enjoying a dramatic sunset is the highlight of our day. We still can't believe we found such a place but we thank our lucky stars every day that we did.
This is the original deed to our property signed by President Woodrow Wilson to Robert L. Allen. The town in which Mr. Allen resided, Whitehorn, is now a ghost town a few miles away .
Our property sits on the Ute Trail and we know the Ute Indians lived, farmed and hunted there for hundreds of years. The fields are full of arrowheads and flint. We are excited to learn more about the history and make discoveries of our own.
The property has 360 degree views of remote awesomeness. Our favorite is the view down the valley with views of the 14,000’ Collegiate Peaks of the Rocky Mountains. It can be reached from 3 different directions, all dirt roads and 2 of them requiring a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Yes, it may take a while to get there but the experience is absolutely worth it. From one direction it’s beautiful ranch land with rolling hills and open range cattle and horses greeting us on the road. From another direction it’s a tight country road winding through the Aspen trees. At one point it opens up to a dramatic vista of the Rockies. The third way is a mountain hugging drive on a narrow dirt road with the most impressive and jaw dropping view of Mt. Princeton.(The picture in the vintage postcard I created at the top of this blog is that view!)
We just discovered a fourth way, well a variation of the third way. It just might be our new favorite. The landscape changes from rocky out-croppings to vast valleys of green rolling hills with full views of the Collegiate Peaks. I got out of the car to take a photo of the snow-capped mountain towering over the green valley. There were no other people or cars, no utility lines…nothing. It was so quiet and peaceful. The only sound was the wind whistling through the pine trees. (and the buzz of a hummingbird that came to check me out) It was really a profound feeling to be alone in such a majestic setting.
Wildlife encounters happen all day long. We awake to the buzzing of hungry hummingbirds at our window, see mule deer along every road, elk herds grazing at the tree lines, pronghorn playing in the open fields, coyotes howling at night and prairie dogs playing peek-a-boo. There is clear evidence of bear from the enormous piles of scat throughout our property. We have also heard stories of a mountain lion in the area. We’ve been assured that it’s unlikely we will have an encounter with these elusive animals. Fingers crossed on that.
We wanted land that was very remote and that’s exactly what we got. Because it's an hour away from the closest town, we don’t have a single public service. No water. No sewer. No electricity. No phones. No internet. No trash pickup. No mail delivery. Believe it or not, we are not afraid (but maybe we should be).
We’ve begun the challenging task of making our homestead livable. It is daunting to think about how that will happen. But the homesteaders 100 years ago had none of those things and they were thrilled for the opportunity. These are all things we have to figure out. And yes, we are thrilled for the opportunity as well.