FRASER, Colo. (CBS4) – Scattered throughout Colorado are dilapidated buildings that are remnants of once thriving businesses that were lost when roads moved, trains came through or mines were depleted.
One of them is the 4 Bar 4 Ranch which sits between Granby and Fraser. Dick McQueary built it in 1895 as a stop for stagecoach travelers on Berthoud Pass.
McQueary was the wagonmaster and built many of the roads linking the remote Colorado area to the outside world.
“It was all kind of a planned effort,” said Tim Nicklas with the Grand County Historical Association. “Build a road, build a stage stop, build a hotel, build a dining hall in the basement.”
And the 4 Bar 4 Ranch had a reputation.
“It was pretty well renown for its food and hospitality over the years. On the bottom floor, you had the dining facilities. The guests stayed on the top floor.”
A barn lies next to the hotel that had its own role in the comings and goings. It provided food and rest for those stagecoache and wagon teams traversing the pass.
When the railroad arrived in 1905 the stage line was no longer needed but the 4 Bar 4 Ranch found a new life in 1913 as Colorado’s first Ford dealership west of the Continental Divide.
It’s thought that the Model Ts were sold on the second floor of the bar,” said Niklaus, “probably because they had horses on the first floor.”
But the dealership didn’t last long and soon both the barn and the hotel were back in the service of the 4 Bar 4 Ranch. The buildings were used well into the 1950s.
That’s when Kirk Klancke first visited as a teenager. “It was in such good shape,” he recalled. “It was really easy to visualize a stagecoach pulling up, people up on the porch enjoying the view.”
Since then, he has watched the buildings fall into ruin.
“From year to year, you could see the deterioration, especially after big snow years,” Klancke said. “I’ve watched it melt into the ground.
“It’s a swampy area. It’s broken my heart. I’ve always felt it needed preservation.”
Klancke is not alone in his wish to preserve 4 Bar 4 Ranch. The Stagecoach Meadows Homeowners’ Association now owns those buildings.
“They were a gift that we inherited to have these buildings in the subdivision,” said John Hart with the HOA.
For 12 years the association has looked for a way to save the buildings without having to foot the entire cost.
Now it is working with Historic Fraser to put together a plan to save the buildings.
“The sooner we preserve them, the less expensive it will be,” said Historic Fraser President Dave Lively.
The short term hope is to stabilize the buildings before they fall over.
“The buildings can be saved,” Lively said. “It’s a matter of how much rehabilitation we want to do to them.”
That discussion is underway.
“What would be absolutely magnificent would be to restore it to all its former glory, allow people to go inside,” Nicklas said.
“At the very least, preserve it as a run so that it doesn’t disappear, because it is a very significant piece of not just Grand County history, but Colorado history.”
To learn more about the 4 Bar 4 Ranch and other sites on this year’s Most Endangered Places list visit ColoradoPreservation.org.
Watch CBS4’s complete 2014 Colorado’s Most Endangered Places special.