Today, Cross Creek Ranch is a place where agriculture and nature meet in a relationship rich in vitality. Situated in a lush alluvial valley with access to fresh, snow-melted, Rocky Mountain water and clear blue skies, Cross Creek Ranch is an idyllic high-altitude escape from the busyness of urban life. Were one to look out over the sprawling vistas of the valley, they would not understand the number of historical events that took place on this land.
Hesperus, in La Plata County, Colorado is home to a quiet community, yet is a place that holds a great amount of historical significance. Prior to Colorado becoming part of the United States, Spanish settlers utilized trails through the Rocky Mountains to navigate to California. The Ranch’s northern boundary intersects with a portion of the Old Spanish Trail, formerly known as Viejo Sendero Española, that stretches from Santa Fe and spans across six states to Los Angeles.
In 1776, two Spanish Franciscan missionary-explorers, Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante, and Francisco Domínguez, were determined to find a western route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Monterey, California. Thus, began the forging of The Old Spanish Trail. The Trail introduced new routes for commerce and trading in the western hemisphere of North America. While the expeditions through the trail were fraught with upheaval amongst varying cultures and treacherous geography, the passage from New Mexico to California was a success by the mid-19th Century. In 2002, by an Act of Congress, the Old Spanish Trail was declared the 15th National Historical Trail, which is a trail that spans over 2,700 miles.
Cross Creek Ranch resides at an elevation of 8,000 feet on the southern slopes of the La Plata Mountains. The property is surrounded by majestic ponderosa tress and the flowing waters of the La Plata River, which create natural tranquility year-round. Cross Creek Ranch originates from deeded land that was signed by five U.S. presidents from 1898-1924; these presidents included Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson.
Cross Creek Ranch borders the far northern boundary of the historical Old Fort Lewis. Old Fort Lewis was originally commissioned by an Act of Congress in 1880 and decommissioned in 1891. The US Army fort consisted of approximately 10,000 acres and operated for ten years. Old Fort Lewis was home to the 6th, 13th, 15th, and 22nd Infantries, as well as the 6th and 9th Calvary. Before moving Cross Creek Ranch was established in Durango, the site was home to Fort Lewis College and the Ranch still operates as an Agricultural extension to Colorado State University.
Since the 1880’s, the ranches in the Durango area have focused on raising horses and cattle and taken advantage of the proximity to the Fort for the sale of the animals to the military stationed at the Fort. Since the inception of Cross Creek Ranch, the focus has been on raising cattle which was made evident by the unique cattle brand that was registered in the State of Colorado on 27th of June 1899. The Cross Creek cattle brand was one of the first recorded cattle brands in the state of Colorado.
Cross Creek Ranch continues to maintain a rugged history of land conservation and ranching stewardship. The animals of Cross Creek Ranch are provided with acres to roam freely, fresh mountain air, and abundantly clean drinking water fed from snow streams. The land that is home to the Ranch will forever remain a landmark of perseverance and a symbol of the human connection to nature.