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Cozens Ranch House Museum

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1874, William Zane Cozens. 1991, restoration, Long Hoeft Architects. 77849 U.S. 40 (NR)

Grand County's vernacular log and frame architecture is well represented by the Cozens Ranch Museum. William Cozens, the fearless pioneer sheriff of Central City, married Mary York, the first white woman in these parts. She insisted that they leave the wild mining town for a better place to raise a family. Across Berthoud Pass, in then unsettled Grand County, the Cozens clan started this pioneer cattle, hay, and potato ranch.

The original hewn log house under board-and-batten siding was enlarged in 1876 with a rear stage stop and a small post office on its south side. Travelers used the six tiny rooms over the stage stop as a hotel. Cozens welcomed stagecoaches but not railroads. He is said to have fired on the railroad survey crew from his rocking chair on the front porch, shooting out the stakes they planted in his hay meadow. That is why, the tale goes, the railroad tracks are still out of firing distance from the Cozens Ranch, hidden across the valley in the woods.

Mary Cozens, a devout Catholic, donated the property to the Jesuits upon her death, and from the 1920s to the 1980s the order used it as a church and retreat known as Maryvale. In 1990 the Grand County Historical Association spent $300,000 to restore the complex, converting it to a museum. The unusually sensitive restoration retained the cold storage room, post office equipment, and backyard family cemetery. The rooms have been painted and papered to replicate early interior design, leaving samples of the original lath and plaster walls and wallpaper. One exhibit is a scale model of the ranch and outbuildings at their peak around 1900, when this was a 600-acre spread.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Thomas J. Noel

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