Historic Log Cabin at Red Mountain Open Space, Larimer County
Historic Log Cabin at Red Mountain Open Space, Larimer County

Historic Log Cabin at Red Mountain Open Space, Larimer County

Historic Log Cabin at Red Mountain Open Space, Larimer County

Colorado is known for colorful, textured landscapes that continually amaze visitors with their diversity and history. This incredibly biodiverse area, strewn with impressive rock structures, streams, and grasses, has been home to humans for at least 12,000 years. The schoolhouse, our project’s focus, tells the story of more recent inhabitants.

PARTNER: Larimer County Department of Natural Resources

DATES: June 27 – July 2, July 11-16, July 18-23, and July 25-30

Project Site Description & History

Interstate 25, just 10 miles east of Red Mountain Open Space (RMOS), divides the Great Plains from the Rocky Mountains. It connects modern and historic commercial hubs from Cheyenne, to Denver, to Pueblo, and further. Today, this highway carries almost 200,000 vehicles daily, but few motorists consider the routes that were laid well before the interstate system was developed. Two hundred years ago, French-Canadians and Native Americans traveled through RMOS, working their way over the course of several days along the edge of the Rockies to reach the trading hub of Bent’s Old Fort. Twelve thousand years ago, humans established settlements in RMOS, taking advantage of the abundant natural resources they found there. Just 30 years ago, conservationists fended off a housing boom in the area, and successfully preserved this open space for generations to come. Today, RMOS is part of the Laramie Foothills Mountains to Plains conservation project that conserves more than 55,000 acres. At this ecologically unique area where the mountains and plains meet, RMOS boasts an incredible wealth of biodiversity and provides critical habitat to a wide variety of species. The area holds archaeological artifacts that share the stories of the many peoples who have lived here over thousands of years, and miles of trails weave through the striking red rocks, prairie grasses, and hidden streams that weave through the landscape.

The focus of our work is on an extant schoolhouse that shares the history of farmers and ranchers that settled here between the 1870s and 1920s. Fueled by a belief in the importance of universal education, and seeking a sense of permanence in their new home, settlers built schoolhouses for their children. According to History Colorado, early schoolhouses constructed of logs, like this one, are rare finds. We are thrilled to have been invited to do the critical work necessary to preserve it!

Location and Logistics:

PARTNER:  Larimer County Open Space

DATES:  June 27 – July 2, July 11-16, July 18-23, and July 25-30

CAMPING ACCESS:    Tent camping only      

This project is suitable for tent campers and truck campers. This project is not accessible for those with RVs or trailers. No dogs are permitted.

LOCATION: Red Mountain Open Space is about 25 miles north of Fort Collins, and the schoolhouse is located near its southwestern corner. We will camp right onsite.

Scope of Work

PROJECT DIFFICULTY:   

SCOPE OF WORK:  HistoriCorps is committed to educating and training volunteers in preservation skills, with an overarching mission of inspiring a preservation ethic in all those involved. Learning and working alongside expert HistoriCorps field staff, volunteers will learn these traditional skills necessary to restore the Historic Log Cabin at Red Mountain Open Space, Larimer County:

  • Repair dry-stacked stone foundation – 30%
  • Repair and replace sill and wall logs – 30%
  • Stabilize school’s floor system – 15%
  • Repair and replace chinking and daubing – 25%

This rural schoolhouse was well-built enough to stand for more than 100 years. Preservationists love to learn from the craft that goes into buildings such as these!

Red Mountain’s rusty coloration is striking against the bluebird skies and green grasses of summer. Photo source.

Dry-stack foundations, meaning stones that are so well-laid they support a building even without mortar, are common in rural buildings like these.

Wrinkled and folded landscapes like these offer excellent photography opportunities throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky and clouds come and go.

The landscape where the plains meet the mountains shifts colors and moods somewhat dramatically with the seasons. Seas of green grass become tawny expanses in the fall, and visitors see the expanse in a new light. Photo source.

Sign Up!

HistoriCorps projects are free for volunteers! The majority of project costs are covered by our project partners and grants, but as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue training volunteers and youth to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.

Volunteer Logistics, Policies, and Advice

We’re so glad you’re interested in joining this project! If you’re new to our community, review the Volunteer FAQ first! Please note the following logistics and policies:

  • Review our COVID protocols here
  • Volunteering with HistoriCorps is free! We will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite or shared indoor lodging. Dinner is not provided on the first night.
  • Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own gear, sturdy work clothes and boots, and appropriate sleeping equipment. Check the average temperatures before you start packing – the nights and mornings may be colder than you anticipate! Then, read this advice about how to stay warm when tent camping in colder places.
  • Campsite accessibility varies by project. Some projects can accommodate tents only; others can accommodate small RVs. Please review the project site description above for more information, and if you’re still not sure, email volunteer@historicorps.org for help.
  • If this project does not offer showers, you might want to consider bringing a solar shower or research other methods to clean up after the work day.
  • Volunteer crew sizes generally range from 4-8 volunteers, with two HistoriCorps staff that lead and train volunteers in the work.
  • Safety is one of HistoriCorps’ top priorities, and volunteers can contribute to a safe working environment by ensuring their physical fitness is adequate for the work. See above for this project’s scope of work and difficulty level. Please, call us if you are not quite sure if a project is a good fit for your skills or fitness level. We may be able to suggest a project more suitable and enjoyable for you.
  • Dogs are generally allowed to accompany their humans in project campsites (actually, we love having dogs join us around the campfire!). Dogs are not permitted on the job site for everyone's safety. HOWEVER: HistoriCorps also follows the rules and regulations of our project partner. If the project partner does not permit dogs onsite then HistoriCorps is no exception. Please ask HistoriCorps or the project partner directly if you have any questions about whether Fido is welcome.