With its massive white barns and expansive golden meadows, the historic Hereford Haven Ranch is not only a familiar gateway to Hayden, but also to an era when bulls ruled the pastures and agriculture dictated residents' way of life.
For sale since February, the 727-acre cattle and hay ranch, on either side of U.S. Highway 40 one mile west of Hayden, offers abundant agricultural opportunities, some development potential and the chance to own a piece of history.
"It's almost like the preservation of a moment in time, when a large ranching operation was in its prime," said listing broker Vonnie Frentress of Mason & Morse Real Estate.
B.T. Shelton homesteaded the ranch, which was later purchased by Francis Miller who, with son-in-law Eldon Martinson, named the ranch for its award-winning bulls, Frentress said.
From the giant culvert used to transport cattle under the highway, to the sturdy multi-level barns that housed prized Prince Domino-line bulls, the ranch stands as a testament not only to its past, but to its future.
Three large parcels of land comprise the property. The largest parcel, about 516 acres north of U.S. 40, is made up predominantly of timothy brome grass hay.
Dry land alfalfa and pasture comprise much of the 150 acres on the south side of the highway, as well as about 64 acres spread near a bluff north of the Yampa River.
The northernmost parcels border about 170 acres of riverfront property owned by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The Nature Conservancy holds a nine-year lease on land to restore the riparian habitat in the area, Frentress said.
Significant water rights support hay production and pastures on the land. Running at about 27 cubic feet per second, the property includes 3.4 shares of the Shelton Ditch Company and about 7.4 shares of the Walker Irrigation Ditch.
The hay meadows on the ranch can support 180 to 200 head of cattle easily, she said.
The ranch's current owners, Gary and Patricia Culver, purchased it in 1998 for their horse-training operation. They have leased parts of the property to ranchers for cattle and hay operations.
The Culvers want to sell the ranch to expand their horse operation in a more temperate climate, Frentress said.
The property includes three homes that sit directly off the north side of the highway. Built around a late 1800s-era log fort, the main house is 3,590 square feet and has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Unique improvements, such as green leather ceilings, leather-lined shelves and sandblasted aspen walls, add to the charm of the historic home, Frentress said.
Sitting east and west of the main house, the other two homes were built between 1936 and 1947 and have three bedrooms and one or 1 3/4 bathrooms. All three homes are single-story frame construction with metal roofs and modern appliances.
Surrounded by hay meadows and on the edge of DOW land, the site is an ideal place for new construction, Frentress said.
Two large barns accommodate cattle, horse and other animal operations, as well as hay storage. The 2,900-square-foot north barn was built in 1936 and features 15 stalls, a tack room and hayloft. It also has a track with a container for feeding or cleaning stalls.
Built in 1950, the south barn is 3,300 square feet with nine metal stalls, a long feeding bunk and animal wash room.
"The homes are so unique -- the homes and buildings just represent an era," Frentress said.
A conservation easement, jointly held by the Yampa Valley Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy, was placed on part of the ranch to protect the property's agriculture and wildlife values.
The easement primarily applies to the 516-acre parcel north of the highway. With certain limitations, new owners may subdivide the property south of the highway into legal parcels and build agriculture, commercial or residential structures.
The parcel already includes a gravel pit with materials that can be used for agricultural operations but cannot be sold commercially, Frentress said.
The parcel north of the Yampa River may be subdivided into no more than two legal parcels. Residential and commercial buildings must be located beyond 200 feet of the bluff.
Frentress said there has been a lot of interest in the ranch, which is offered at $2.87 million.
"I think it's a Routt County treasure, and I think other people do, too," she said.
For more information, call Frentress at 879-8101 or 846-4372.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail email@example.com