Fraser Pioneer Billy Cozens: builder of three National Historic treasures |

Fraser Pioneer Billy Cozens: builder of three National Historic treasures

Kristi B. Martens, PhD
Grand County Historical Association
The Grand County Historical Association acquired Cozens Ranch in 1987.
Cozens Ranch Museum |

If you go:

What: Taste of History Champagne Brunch and Social to “Keep Cozens Open!”

When: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7

Where: Cozens Ranch Museum, 77849 U.S. Highway 40, Fraser

What else: Dress denim and lace. Live Music by “Tight Like That.” Auction of premier artworks and adventures.

How Much: $40 Grand County Historical Association members, $50 public. Call 970-726-5488, or pick up tickets at Cozens Ranch Museum in Fraser or Pioneer Village in Hot Sulphur Springs

In 1987, when Grand County Historical Association acquired the 100 year-old Cozens homestead in Fraser from the Jesuits of Regis College, an essential task was to ensure that the property be preserved and honored on the National Register of Historic Places. (The other Grand County building listed on the National Register is Grand Lake’s Kauffman House, built in 1892).

Cozens Ranch, built from 1874-1876, is regarded as the oldest intact structure in Grand County. The lovely house itself is a vernacular board and batten structure fashioned with exemplary craftsmanship. It is one of the few remaining planked-log buildings in Colorado and represents late 19th century western classic architecture.

It may come as a surprise that wily Sheriff Cozens was a master carpenter. Before moving West, Billy Cozens learned the trade growing up in the woods of Ontario, Canada. The Cozens Ranch exudes his fine skills along with Billy’s commercial enterprises of the Stage Stop, the stone-built Cold Storage Room, and the wooden Post Office, all surviving today on the original homestead.

illy Cozens is one of the few Coloradans with three buildings listed on the National Historic Register. While he might be remembered as a frontier lawman, Billy, the carpenter, created lasting architectural treasures. Along with Cozens Ranch, Billy’s other two surviving structures are in Central City where he served as sheriff, and they too are listed on the National Historic Register.

Washington Hall — which includes Billy’s tidy jail, is located on Main Street across from the Central City Opera House. Today it houses the Gilpin Art Center. Behind it is The Cozens Home — a tall, dark wooden structure located on East First High. Tours with the Gilpin History Museum visit both Cozens structures, which date to the 1860s.

Billy and Mary Cozens literally built an enduring legacy, from Central City to the Fraser Valley, and one we can still appreciate today.

Research assisted by: Roger A. and Vivian Cozens, Broomfield and David Forsyth, Gilpin History Museum, Central City

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