J.B. Dawson, the former Texas Ranger quoted above, founded this site starting in 1903. He managed a cattle operation until one of his ranch hands, Farrington "Ferry" Carpenter, took over in 1926.
Ferry, a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, became one of the Valley's most prominent and influential citizens. He established two local schools and became the town of Hayden's first attorney. Remembered for his judiciousness and diplomatic skill, he managed the ranch until his death in 1980.
What to Expect
Restored from one of the original buildings at this site, a visitor/education center provides both cultural and ecological information about the Valley. The historic barn and house are registered with the Colorado Historical Society as well as the National Register of Historic Places.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) recently completed exterior preservation and foundation repairs to the historic Ranch House, with funding for the project from the State Historical Fund (SHF). The necessary repairs were identified by an SHF-supported Historic Structures Assessment completed in 2017. TNC is grateful to the SHF for its continued support and funding.
While you're in the area, consider a visit to TNC's Yampa River Preserve, located just upstream.
Why TNC Selected This Site
The Yampa River supports one of the world's largest remaining examples of a rare riparian forest type dominated by narrowleaf cottonwood, box elder, and red-osier dogwood. (A few places in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado are the only places where this plant community occurs.)
The Carpenter Ranch Preserve is perfectly suited as a collaboration and education facility for four reasons:
- Ecological value
- Location: in the midst of an agricultural community
- Location: close to Steamboat Springs and Craig
- Meeting place: the renovated ranch house has a warm, inviting atmosphere
What TNC Has Done/Is Doing
TNC acquired the ranch in 1996 as the centerpiece of its broader effort to conserve the natural and agricultural heritage of the Yampa River Valley. Today, TNC manages this historic, biologically significant property as a working cattle ranch to explore ways to simultaneously pursue agricultural production and the conservation of streamside and wetland habitats.