The Roper Cabin – A Reflection of Ranch Beginnings

Roper Cabin

The Elmer family purchased the Roper cabin from Albert Roper. The young girl in the front is Alta Marie Dunbar, who was born in 1898 and died in 2002 at the age of 104. Her parents started Harmel’s Ranch Resort nearby.

The Elmer family purchased the cabin from Albert Roper. The young girl in the front is Alta Marie Dunbar, who was born in 1898 and died in 2002 at the age of 104. Her parents started Harmel’s Ranch Resort nearby.

Commonly known as the Roper Cabin, the hand-hewn log structure located near the crossroads of County Road 742 and Jack’s Cabin Cutoff breathes history. Although sights and sounds of occupants are long gone, the home with a split-rail fence was carefully crafted and signifies the beginning of the historic ranch now known as Wilder on the Taylor.

“The house is where the Stevens brothers set their roots down and filed for an easement for Spring Creek irrigation to come in. Spring Creek ditch ties into Rarick Creek by the house,” says Ranch Manager Don Sabrowski. “The ranch had the first irrigated hay meadows in Gunnison County.”

James E. Stevens filed to homestead the ranch in 1898 and the footprint of the original house is visible, Sabrowski confirms, but there have been various additions and owners over the years.

Jim and Clara (Haymaker) Boyd lived in a house on the upper ranch, with Jim working for Albert Robert, who at that time owned the lower part of the ranch and lived where the historic Wilder cabins now stand along the Taylor River. In 1920, the Boyds bought 40 acres that included the cabin from Charles T. Stevens for $500. The ownership ended up being short-lived as Boyd was thrown from a horse and killed that fall while guiding hunters to earn extra money.Roper Cabin

Albert Roper bought the land and cabin from Clara and relocated the spruce trees that still stand today from the lower ranch with the help of his children in 1923. Roper also built the hay barn and calving shed near the cabin.

When Don and his wife, Shelly, started managing the ranch in 1995 and first went into the Roper Cabin, one of the first things he noticed was that 1946 newspapers from St. Louis covered the walls to make the home more winter resistant. “You could go in and read about what was going on at that time.” The logs for the walls are still in good shape and if a roof were added, the cabin probably could last forever, Don notes. “Someone went to a lot of trouble to make it a nice place.”

Anita Leonard, who managed the ranch with her husband, Cass from 1953 until retiring in 1995, never mentioned anyone living in the Roper cabin during their tenure, Don recalls. What she did relay is that rooms were added onto the house and it became a saloon and dance hall of sorts that was frequented by workers building the Taylor Park Dam. Next door, there was a schoolhouse that kids attended while the dam construction was underway. The schoolhouse was moved to Harmel’s Ranch Resort just down the road years ago and still stands today.


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Paradise on Horseback in Colorado

Colorado Ranches on Wilder-Taylor RanchRanches and horses go together like a warm chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk. It’s hard to imagine one without the other. Wilder on the Taylor has five horses that are available for owners and guests to ride on the 2,100-acre shared ranch property, and less than a mile up County Road 742 are the stables at Harmel’s Ranch Resort. Harmel’s offers horsemanship lessons and guided rides that range from a few hours to overnight along with hayrides and sing-a-longs available on Tuesday and Friday evenings from mid-June until mid-August.

A couple of other local enterprises also offer unique adventures on horseback. Gunnison-based Tenderfoot Outfitters provides authentic trail rides of varying lengths, horse packing trips, high alpine fishing and hunting excursions, tent bed and breakfast trips, youth adventure camps and horseback hunts.

Fantasy Ranch Horseback Adventures skillfully guides horseback outings and wilderness trail rides from its Mt. Crested Butte stable in the summer and fall with one of the most unique being a Crested Butte toAspen journey. During winter, Fantasy Ranch offers horseback rides from its Almont stable, complete with a stop for hot chocolate by the fire at Almont Resort.

Whether you are out a few hours or overnight, you will be dazzled by the scenery in Gunnison County and beyond. Saddle up and release your inner cowboy spirit at Wilder on the Taylor and beyond!