Drive along any country road in Routt County and you will see them. Barns of all shapes and sizes dot the landscape, helping to define the area's character and showcasing our proud Western lifestyle. Many of the barns are old, historic buildings, but as the staff of At Home discovered, barns come in all shapes and sizes. They fill a number of roles, including sheltering livestock and equipment on some of our county's oldest working ranches, providing a place to live and, in some cases, helping those with disabilities find a place to grow and learn.
If you've ever been to Hayden, then you've probably come across the barn on the Carpenter Ranch. Inside this structure are signs of its long and storied past, which included a mule-breeding operation and generations of cattle ranching. The barn was built by J.B. Dawson. Starting in 1903, he managed a cattle operation until one of his ranch hands, Farrington Carpenter, took over in 1926. Today, the barn is part of a working cattle ranch, a research and educational facility and a center for cooperation and dialogue.
Mad Creek Barn
This barn can be accessed with a relatively easy 1.5-mile walk from the Mad Creek Trailhead. Built in 1906 by James "Harry" Ratcliff, the barn was preserved in 2001 through a
partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and Historic Routt County, with funding from a State Historical Fund grant. The wooden structure is surrounded by breathtaking views and is in a small meadow less than a mile from the roaring waters of Mad Creek.
From the outside, Ron and Regina Wendler's home looks a lot like many of the newer barns being built in the Yampa Valley. But this 23,000-foot facility is a lot more than a barn. There is an indoor riding facility, stalls for seven horses and 2,300 square feet of living space that the Wendler family calls home. Ron said it took 14 months to build and was slightly more expensive than projected, but that this "Barnominium" has lived up to all of his expectations. Regina is a trainer and often works out of her home, which also includes an outdoor riding arena and 35 acres of room. It's just south of Steamboat Springs on Routt Country Road 14E.
This barn just outside of Milner used to mark the small Colorado town (really just a stop on the stage route and a post office) of Pool, which was established by James Hitchens in 1886. The barn, which was expanded in the 1930s by James Hitchens' sixth son, Albert, was used to store hay, livestock and other equipment used on the ranch. Unfortunately, the barn was built on a sandstone foundation, which is deteriorating a little more every year. Diane Holly, a descendent of James Hitchens, still works the ranch, which is a part of the Routt County and Colorado historical registries.
Sidney Peak Ranch
Brittney Kaleikini prepares Liberty (a horse she is paid to ride) for a spin at Sidney Peak's indoor riding arena. The facility features a huge indoor riding arena, private horse stalls, a large outdoor riding arena and a place to groom animals. There also is a lounge with a complete kitchen area for members.
The Fetcher Barn at Hahn's Peak is on the banks of Steamboat Lake in Northern Routt County, about a half-hour drive along Routt County Road 129. The Fetcher barn was constructed in 1929 by J.T. Kelton, a well-known Routt County sheriff, and was purchased by the Fetcher family in 1962. It features a large hayloft, which has been the site of many festive barn dances. Today, longtime Steamboat Springs resident John Fetcher and his family continue to use the barn as part of their Hahn's Peak working ranch. The barn is in a pasture where the family keeps horses and cattle.
Built in the 1920s, this cream and maroon barn along Routt County Road 14 just south of Steamboat Springs is now part of a program designed to help people with special needs. Ed Trousil, who helps maintain the barn, said the 2,500-square-foot structure's primary purpose is to house the tack and a few animals for the Humble Ranch Educational and Therapy Center, which was established in June 2000. The goal of the HRETC is to provide therapeutic activities for individuals with special needs, in a natural environment.
Realtor Steve Fesch has big plans for the property he bought 8.5 miles north of Steamboat Springs, but first he is in the process of renovating the historic barn, which includes three stables, a makeshift lounge and a home for the ranch's three goats. He recently added a coat of paint to the 1,000-square-foot barn, which was built in 1905.