Welcome to Beckwith Ranch!
A Colorado Ranching Heritage Initiative in the Wet Mountain Valley of Custer County Colorado
The Beckwith Legacy - A Ranching Dynasty in Southern Colorado
The story of the Beckwith Ranch began in 1869 when George Beckwith Sr. and his son Edwin Beckwith arrived in the Wet Mountain Valley to explore and research possible business prospects. The Beckwith family were originally from Mt Desert Island, Maine, following the civil war where both Edwin and Elton had participated, the family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts while the three sons attended college. George continued to operate his ship building and merchant marine businesses from Cambridge. The exploration trip to the valley had Edwin quickly determined that the stunning Wet Mountain valley would be the perfect location for cattle ranching. George set up the “Beckwith and Sons Cattle Investment Company” purchasing 200 head of long horn cattle from Charles Goodnight in Pueblo. Shortly thereafter his older brother Elton and their father George sold their business ventures in Maine and Massachusetts. Elton joined Edwin in the Wet Mountain Valley. George purchased a 2000-acre ranch in Longmont Colorado and remained active in the cattle business with his sons. Together they built one of the largest and most successful cattle ranching dynasties in Colorado. What is amazing about the Beckwith family was that they had no cattle ranching experience at all. What they had was a determination to take advantage of the gold and silver boom that was about to explode in the valley by supplying the miners with cattle and horses.
The history of the ranch and its occupants is highlighted by the building of a cattle empire, cattle rustling, Elton becoming a state senator, their world travels, the runaway daughter and the tragic deaths of the two brothers.
Their story tells of a family that was bold and sometimes ruthless. But it is also a story of a family that that was well respected and admired by those who knew them. They were a close family that played off each other’s strengths and were a force to be reckoned with equaled only by the indomitable woman in the center of it all—Elsie Chapin Beckwith.
The ranch started with an old log cabin taken from about 20 miles south of the Beckwith Ranch location. The two brothers disassembled the log cabin and brought it up to its current location. When Elton married the widow, Elsie Chapin Davis, she encouraged Elton to expand the log cabin into a Victorian mansion. The Beckwith’s called their ranch, the Waverly Ranch.
The Beckwith home became the talk of Colorado and today remains one of the most painted and photographed buildings in the state.
By 1907 the Beckwith ranching dynasty was over. In a mere 40 years they had built an empire only to have it sold off after the passing of the final brother Elton.
The ranch and mansion passed through many ranching families and was eventually abandoned. In 1996 with the establishment of the Friends of Beckwith Ranch, Inc., her time had come again and the restoration of the Beckwith Ranch began.
The Waverly Ranch (Beckwith Ranch) 1903. The picture above was taken by someone standing on the water tower around 1903. Notice that the gazebo and fountain are being put in.
The Ranch Today
Set against the dramatic Sangre de Cristo mountain range, the Beckwith ranch stands as a picturesque reminder of the valley’s ranching history. With its signature red roofs and white clapboard siding, the ranch has inspired artists, tourists and history buffs alike.
The ranch complex, consisting of the Beckwith mansion, a bunkhouse, two pegged barns, two guest-houses, a tack house, a small shop building and a two-hole outhouse, was donated to the Friends of Beckwith Ranch, inc., a non-profit organization, by Paul and Phyllis Seegers of Hillside, Colorado and Dallas, Texas. The Friends of Beckwith Ranch, an all-volunteer organization, is dedicated to restoring and preserving the mansion and the outbuildings as a Ranching Heritage Center where visitors can learn about Colorado’s rich heritage. The facility will also be made available for community use.
As with any volunteer enterprise, the fulfillment of these goals depends on obtaining necessary funds. The Friends of Beckwith Ranch organization has received generous support in the form of grants from the Colorado Historical Society and the Frontier Pathway, a National Scenic Byway. Additional support has come from the Elder Hostel organization, the Fremont-Custer Historical Society, the El Pueblo Museum in Pueblo, Colorado, Paul and Phyllis Seeger and many generous individuals who are members of the organization.
To tour the historic landmark or to schedule a wedding or special event, please send us an email or fill out your information on the contact page of the website (see below)
If you are interested in helping preserve Colorado’s romantic ranching history, please contact us for information on donor and volunteer opportunities.
Friends of Beckwith Ranch, Incorporated (FBR)
The Friends of Beckwith Ranch was founded on February 10, 1997 by Linda Kaufman, the first FBR Board of Directors President. It is a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity. The purpose of the corporation is to preserve an historic landmark in the Wet Mountain Valley by restoring and preserving the Beckwith Ranch house and associated buildings donated by Paul and Phyllis Seegers, to preserve the ranching heritage of the Wet Mountain Valley, and to foster and support educational programs concerning the history of the Beckwith Ranch and ranching as a way of life.
The Beckwith Ranch (Waverly House) is the most historically significant site in Custer County. The original structure was built of logs circa 1869. It is one of the most photographed locations in Colorado and stands as a testament to the era and the Valley’s ranching roots. Through philanthropic donations and community member contributions and volunteerism as well as gifts in kind, we have been able to restore The Beckwith Ranch (Waverly House) to its original glory and maintain its exceptional history with educational tours and events.
The proceeds from tours and events are used to benefit the needs of maintaining the Beckwith Ranch. Future events will allow perpetual nonprofit support (tours, school field trips, weddings, meetings, family reunions, banquets, Bar Mitzvahs, workshops, photography & videography sessions, etc.) This will further enable us to have a significant impact on our community and for us to drive tourism and offer more opportunities to enhance the local economy. We also plan on commencing several proposed educational initiatives that will benefit tourism in the Valley.
2024 Board of Directors
- President, Courtney Miller
- Vice President, Matt Richter
- Past President/Treasurer: Jon Gaulding
- Director: Bob Fulton
- Director: Mike Liebman
- Director: Ashley Gaulding
- Director: David Huber
- Director: Jim Vornberg
- Board Development: Courtney Miller, Jon Gaulding
- Budget and Finance: Jon Gaulding, Courtney Miller
- Strategic Planning: Courtney Miller, Matt Richter, Jon Gaulding
- Landscaping: Matt Richter, Jackie Hoffmann
- Preservation and Restoration: Matt Richter
- Events and Programs: H. King, Courtney Miller
- Historical Heritage: Courtney Miller
- Public Relations: J. Hoffmann, K. LeBlond
- Personnel: Lynn Paulsen
- Grant Acquisitions: open
- Education Outreach: Courtney Miller, Jim Vornberg
- 14 Trained Tour Guides
- 15 Thespians (who portray characters in costume)
- 13 Event Planners
- 6 Marketing and Social Media volunteers
- In 2023, 41 volunteers made it all happen putting in over 6,000 hours
Historic Beckwith Ranch
64159 Highway 69 N.
P. O. Box 1646
Westcliffe, Colorado 81252
Wednesday - Sunday
11:00AM - 04:00PM
June - October