Sheep ranchers Margaret Brown and her husband purchased their first 160 acres on the Elk River in 1915. Margaret Brown's autobiography, Shepherdess of the Elk River Valley (1967), is one of few extensive accounts left by the many women who ran Colorado ranches. On moving to the ranch she wrote: “I shall never forget my happy feeling of possession and release as I rode over this small piece of pasture, fully adequate for the sheep and the lambing. On the 21st of April, we moved the ewes into this place. There was a location cabin of one room and a shed lean-to, a good small horse barn of logs, a good chicken house and cow barn, a good sheep shelter, small but snug, and wonderful spring water.”
Margaret Brown's husband died in 1918. She stayed on alone, raising enough hay often to help out neighbors during the long winters. By buying out the spreads of men who gave up, she expanded her ranch to 713 acres, which she ran until her death in 1965. Her hewn log ranch house sits on the bank of the Elk River amid rich hayfields and pastureland. Distinguished by three dormers in a steep-pitched, side-gable roof and a full-width screened front porch, it has ribbed metal roofing and chinked log construction that exemplify the local vernacular. To the original homestead cabin and ranch house, Brown added many of the outbuildings, such as a bunk-house, an ice-house, and a tool shed, which are still used by her descendants.