In April 1958, the Longs Peak Council of the boy Scouts of America purchased the Pinecroft Ranch from George Weaver. The Scouts had used pancake breakfasts and other events to raise the $10,000 down payment for the 1,500 acre ranch. In November 1958, Ben Delatour donated $65,000 to allow the Scouts to buy the ranch that now bears his name. (Delatour’s gift is over $500,000 in 2017 dollars.)
Delatour, a retired banker and philanthropist, came with his family to Fort Collins in 1945. He had never been a Boy Scout but said, “I had some spare money at the time and thought it would be a good move to give it to the Scouts.”
If you want to know more about Ben Delatour, Barbara Fleming has written about him in a recent Coloradoan article. The link to her article is shown below.
The Scout Ranch was dedicated on July 26, 1959, for the first season of camp operations. This series of photographs was taken for the Denver Post for their coverage of the event.
The Delatour Scout Ranch is located 42 miles northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado and seven miles east of Red Feather Lakes. At an elevation of 7,500 feet, it occupies some of the most beautiful and historic land in the Northern Colorado Rockies. For centuries Native American tribes moved over the land but, by the 1800s, white settlers brought ranching and farming to the area. The remains of numerous homestead sites dot the Ranch, including the Miller/Robinson Homestead shown below.
The caption on the back of this photograph reads, “Joe Christner and Bill Sears ‘investigating’ one of six old homestead cabins still on the Ranch. They will be preserved, This one dates to the 80s.”
Terry Dunn, an expert on the homesteads on the Scout Ranch and the author of Historical Sites Found at the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, was kind enough to share the story of this cabin.
Dunn believes the cabin in the photograph is the Miller – Robinson Homestead. It was located next to the Elkhorn Creek on the Zimmerman Stage Line. (The Zimmerman Stage Line provided access from Fort Collins to the upper Poudre Canyon long before a road was opened through the lower Poudre Canyon.) The cabin was built sometime in the 1880s and, according to Historical Sites, was once home to a family of ten.
The cabin wasn’t in great shape when the property was purchased and several attempts were made to stabilize it. By 2002, the homestead, with rotting logs and a no real foundation for support, was in danger of falling over. About that time, a log cabin expert arrived and offered to take the cabin apart and rebuild it. He deconstructed the cabin, developed a book showing the location of each individual log, but left without rebuilding the structure. A second individual was approached to rebuild the cabin but never got started on the project.
Dunn says, “So what is left of the cabin is a pile of logs near where it stood thanks to broken promises.”
We can hope that someday someone will come along that can bring the homestead cabin back to life for future Scouts.
The days around the dedication ceremony were busy ones for the Scouts. The Denver Post photographer captured some of their work.
Left to right, Bill Sears, Joe Christner, and Duncan Hopewood, all of Fort Collins Post 88, mix concrete in a cement mixer donated by Hensel-Phelps Construction Company.
This image is one of the images that ran in the Denver Post. Its caption is shown below.
“NEW TENTS GO UP AT BOY SCOUT RANCH. Dr. C. W. Jeffry, Rawlins, Wyo., physician, gave the Longs Peak Council $5,000 to buy new tents and material for platforms. Putting up one of the tents are (left to right), Carlton Stolber, 17, Boulder; Lenord Schaffer, 16, Laramie; Charles Buechman, 15, Boulder (behind tent) and Scout Executive J. D. Armstrong, Greeley.”
Of course, some fun was had by the scouts as well. This photograph shows (left to right) Louis Jensen, 16, Fort Collins; Allen Benedict, 16, Fort Collins; and Bob Mills, the District Scout Executive snowshoeing (I think) in July.
The original tract of land has more than doubled over the years. The facility provides a host of activities, including camping, hiking, rocking climbing and shooting ranges to more than 5,000 Scouts each year. Even today, Scouts might find remnants of the past such as tipi rings and a few pioneer gravesites.
The Ranch is located at 2331 County Rd 68C, Red Feather Lakes, CO 80545.
Next Sunday I’ll share a few images of the post-WW2 Quonset huts at CSU.