Ranch receives designation

County commissioners call Green Creek Ranch historic

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Livng in Steamboat Springs 100 years ago meant warm summers and long, hard winters. Without snowplows, cars or electricity, pioneers had to be creative.

"I don't think people realize the ingenuity that these early settlers had to have, not only to survive this climate ... but they prospered," Todd Hagenbuch said.

Hagenbuch helps run his family's Green Creek Ranch in the Pleasant Valley area just south of Steamboat. County commissioners gave the ranch historic designation this week.

The ranch has multiple turn-of-the-century cabins, barns and other structures, such as water wheels that one family used to make Steamboat's first electricity.

The ranch is owned by the Gay family, and getting historic designation for the buildings on more than 2,000 acres is another step the family has taken to preserving the land and its history.

Elaine Gay said the designation follows the conservation easement the family put on much of the land a few years ago to ensure it would not be developed.

"It's important, I think, because this is an original homestead," Gay said.

In the early 1900s, the Bonard brothers and Gabioud family arrived in Steamboat and settled on three 160-acre homesteads in Pleasant Valley, according to a report accompanying the ranch's request for historic designation.

The families built cabins and barns, and a few years later, the Lugon family bought the homesteaded land.

The Lugons, like many families that settled in Pleasant Valley, were of French and Swiss descent and raised cattle and sheep.

Zeb Lugon built water wheels on the ranch through which he made electricity for all of the ranch's buildings and each room in the family's house. With the diverted water, the family could have running water and a bathroom in their house, meaning the Lugons enjoyed improvements that many neighbors did not receive for years.

Robert and Elaine Gay, along with their three children, moved to the ranch from the Emile Gay ranch in 1948. They moved by wagon because the road was too muddy for vehicles. The Gays added some buildings, and the former Pleasant Valley Schoolhouse building, built in 1909, was moved to the ranch after the Pleasant Valley School District became a part of the Steamboat Springs School District.

Having a historic designation will help the family ensure the ranch's history continues into the future, Hagenbuch said.

"We've been here for the long haul, we're going to be here for the long haul, and anything we can help do ... to help preserve the history that is so important not only to the family but to the valley and our community, we certainly have tried to do," Hagenbuch said.

The Peters House -- also known as the Pearce House, the Sauer House and the Scott House -- at 316 Seventh St. in downtown Steamboat Springs, also received historic designation this week. The house was built in 1928 and originally was owned by the United Methodist Church.

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