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In 1908, Allan Mingus begin chopping down trees to take advantage of a new provision of the Homestead Act allowing tracts within National Forests to be homesteaded when the agricultural value of the land exceeded its timber value. By 1910, his family had joined him and they secured title to the land in 1913.
What began during the peak of high country ranching continued by the same family for 63 years. Isolated today, at one time, a number of other homesteaders lived nearby in Fairview. The family farmed about 35 acres of their land, using the rest for timber and grazing.
Their cabin is tucked away in a meadow at 9,400 feet near the base of Round Top Mountain. It and the barn were constructed by an unknown Scandinavian master builder. Tight dove-tailed corners are the mark of his high-quality workmanship, so tight that during its construction it is likely no nails were used. It is said the builder of the house bragged it was built so well it could hold water.
William Allan Mingus was the son of John Henry Mingus and Margaret Katherine Herron. He was born in Carroll, Guthrie County, Iowa in 1880. He and his brother, Clarence Eugene most likely headed west to Colorado together as (William) Allan was married in El Paso County, Colorado and Clarence was listed in the 1940 Census in Salida, Colorado. A third brother died as an infant in 1887 in Iowa.
Allan and his wife had two daughters, Helen Mingus Hausen and Morene. According to local legend Mrs. Mingus died in childbirth during the winter. Allan couldn’t get her body out because of the snow so he put her upstairs for two weeks until he could move the body by sleigh to Beulah.
At her father’s death in 1963, daughter, Helen, inherited the ranch. She sold it to the Forest Service in 1971. Four buildings remain on the site.
Mingus Homestead Rental
San Isabel National Forest Historic Cabin Rental program allows the rental of the Mingus Homestead Cabin and corrals May 1st through November with weather permitting.
Since 2000, the US Forest Service has been “restoring historic ranches and cabins to provide recreational experiences in authentic, unique and accurately rendered settings”. Their Historic High Country Ranch Preservation program, with the cooperation of the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway and the Colorado State Historical Society, has renovated the cabin and barn to match their original appearance.
The two- story cabin accommodates six people. No pets are allowed. No tent or RV camping is allowed at the cabin site although there is a first-come, first-serve primitive camping area along Ditch Creek Road before you reach the homestead. The cost is $50 per night and the cabin can be reserved at www.recreation.gov.
Directions: Highway 165 north to just past Mile Marker 9. Turn east on Forest Service Road 383 (Ditch Creek Road) and continue for 1.5 miles. Cabin and corral are on the south side of the road.