Reconstruction of historic stagecoach hotel begins
Historic Fraser to host groundbreaking
Years before US Highway 40 would become the main route winding through Grand County, the Georgetown Stagecoach Line was the path travelers took to get over Berthoud Pass. The line led right to the 4 Bar 4 Ranch, home to a historic hotel and barn built in 1895.
On Monday, residents had the opportunity to travel down the old Georgetown Stagecoach Line (also known as County Road 5) and back in time to celebrate the 4 Bar 4 Barn’s recent reconstruction and the beginning of rebuilding the 4 Bar 4 Stagecoach Hotel.
Historic Fraser, Inc., the local nonprofit restoring the site, hosted the Monday ceremony celebrating the reconstruction of the former hotel and all of the people and businesses that made it possible. The event followed COVID-19 guidelines and the attendees all wore masks.
4 Bar 4 Ranch has been designated one of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places by Colorado Preservation and is on the state’s register of historic properties.
The barn, also known as the Ford Barn, once served as Grand County’s only Ford dealership, with Model T’s pushed into the hayloft on wooden beams to be assembled. Similarly, the hotel has a multistoried history. Originally built by Dick and Jessie McQueary as a homestead, the building also served as a stagecoach stop and a lodge for travelers.
Reconstruction of the barn on the ranch finished up last year. Using money from private donations and the State Historical Fund, as well as in-kind donations, Historic Fraser, Inc. hopes to have the hotel rebuilt by 2024.
“The grand picture is to get both buildings done and the grounds complete with benches, tables, interpretive signs explaining the history of the area and the people who actually did the homesteading there on the 4 Bar 4,” Kent Wehmeyer, a board member of Historic Fraser, Inc. told the Board of County Commissioners in an update.
Due to the historic designation of the site, reconstruction has to follow several guidelines laid out by the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, which include using period construction techniques and requirements to preserve as much original material as possible.
Wehmeyer added that the construction team would be aided by a descendent of the original homesteaders.
“Dick McQueary, the original homesteader, his great-, great-grandson … is actually going to be running the mini-excavator to dig the foundation hole for his great-, great-grandfather’s place,” he said.
In a news release about the groundbreaking, Rob McQueary shared how honored he is to work on the project.
“It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to help to rebuild my 2nd great-grandfather’s stagecoach hotel,” McQueary said. “My family contributed much to this region, including cutting the first road through Rocky Mountain National Park, from Grand Lake to the Continental Divide.”
While ultimately the site plans to feature educational signage about the area and its homesteaders, construction on the hotel will start this week with a new foundation. The former hotel had to be completely torn down in order to preserve the original building materials as much as possible.
“One of the reasons the hotel was in such bad shape is that it had sunk into the ground because the ground is just bad there,” Wehmeyer explained.
In order to avoid similar issues in the future, the hotel will be built slightly higher above the ground to allow proper drainage. However, per the historic guidelines, the structure won’t undergo major changes.
Donations can be made to Historic Fraser, Inc. at P.O. Box 205, Fraser.
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