The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department will celebrate the preservation of early pioneer history at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area with Operation Preservation, an event on Sunday, September 15. Visitors are invited to stop by anytime between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. and enjoy activities including tours of recently restored historic structures, displays, and children’s pioneer activities. Free, no registration required, but you can get updates and a reminder by signing up at http://naturetracker.fcgov.com
The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department was awarded $93,392 in 2011 from the State Historical Fund, a program of History Colorado. The grant funded the restoration work on the historic log cabin-chicken house and 1888 pioneer barn. The focus was on the foundations, structural supports, exterior walls, roof and interior finishes and doors. The Pulliam Charitable Trust provided a grant of $24,000 to fund the majority of the matching funds for the State grant, with only $7,000 coming from the Natural Areas Department. The City purchased Bobcat Ridge Natural Area from the Pulliam family in 2003; since that time the family has generously provided the City with grants for trails, educational programs, historic preservation, and site restoration.
The historic buildings at Bobcat Ridge represent the earliest settlement in West Glade, the valley west of Masonville. Recently, the barn was stabilized and repaired with a new roof and restoration of the original front wall as documented by a 1956 photo. The log cabin/chicken house has been rebuilt from its collapsed state. Original logs were saved as much as possible with some new logs added. The contractors were Wattle & Daub Construction and Empire Carpentry, preservation engineer was AE Design, the timber framing specialist rebuilding the log cabin was Peter Haney, and the grant writer/manager was consultant Carol Tunner.
Bobcat Ridge Natural Area (Hyatt Homestead-Spence Ranch) was listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties in 2010. The site along with its buildings are a rare resource that help visitors better understand pioneer subsistence-level living. Educational programs about Bobcat Ridge’s natural and cultural history are led by volunteer Master Naturalists and Natural Areas Department staff. Nearly 1200 people attended educational programs and events at Bobcat Ridge in 2012. In addition, each 5th grader in Thompson Valley School District visits Bobcat Ridge Natural Area on a school field trip.
“State Historical Fund-funded projects not only save our history and inspire state pride, but they also have the power to transform communities by generating tangible benefits to the economy,” said Steve Turner, Vice President of Preservation Programs at History Colorado. “Communities that receive a grant to save even one locally significant building know that it helps to create jobs and potentially drive heritage tourism in their region.”