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Great Sand Dunes Country Club and Inn (Zapata Ranch)

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Zapata Ranch
c. 1876, 1990s. 5303 Colorado 150 (NR)

Archaeologists Dennis and Peggy Stanford of the Smithsonian Institution have unearthed numerous Folsom sites on and around the Zapata Ranch. Fine Folsom spear points and other stone tools led them to speculate that a band or two of Folsom people camped around a lake here some 11,000 years ago, living in hide-draped pole shelters. The Trujillo family homesteaded here in 1864 and began raising sheep, only to be driven out by cattlemen, who have operated a ranch here since the 1870s. By 1879 a post office had opened at the ranch. Several old log structures include ruins of an unusual five-sided chapel and morada.

Spectacularly sited at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Range near the Great Sand Dunes, the fifteen-room log inn has single-story gabled wings extending from the two-story building. Outbuildings are also constructed of notched-corner logs, except for an old barn made of two railroad boxcars. A new swimming pool now occupies the old corral of what has become a luxury resort and buffalo ranch.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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