USFS Logo Administering the National Forests of Colorado:
An Assessment of the Architectural and Cultural Significance of Historical Administrative Properties
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Pawnee National Grassland

The area now under federal administration as the Pawnee National Grasslands is a typical High Plains environment where cattle barons, especially the Iliff Cattle Company, prospered until the harsh winters and economic climate of the late 1880s destroyed the business.

Homesteaders began moving into the area in the mid-1880s. But the drought years of the decade severely constrained agricultural pursuits in the area. The early 20th century was more prosperous for farmers due to above-average rainfall. Expansion of the Homestead Act coupled with increased grain prices due to World War I saw additional virgin grasslands plowed under. By the early 1930s wheat prices fell and persistent drought drove the agricultural industry from the area. Damage due to cultivation was studied extensively in the late 1930s by both the State of Colorado and the USDA. It was agreed that a concerted effort was needed to return the land to sod. A land purchase project was initiated and coordinated by the Farm Securities Administration, an agency that had been investigating the region's problem since 1937. The goal was to eliminate all farms too small to provide management of the soil through crop rotation and fallowing during the summer months. To do this the federal government was to purchase the farms or help to consolidate farms to form more economical units.

In 1938 the USDA Soil Conservation Service (SCS) began administering the area. Most land transactions were concluded by 1941. About 200,000 acres were returned to federal ownership. Most of the original farmers migrated to urban areas. The SCS did most of the soil rehabilitation from 1938 to 1954. Full production of grass was the goal. In that year administration of the area was transferred to the USFS. In addition to soil rehabilitation and water management, wildlife values and recreation needs were considered. By 1960 the National Grasslands were established (Winter et al. n.d.).

Table 8 lists administrative sites evaluated in Pawnee National Grassland and Figure 47 shows the relative location of these sites. Construction dates in this and following tables are for existing evaluated buildings.

Table 8. Summary of Site Recommendations for Pawnee National Grasslands.

Site Name Const. Date Site No. Field Eligibility Recommendation
Briggsdale Work Center 1927 5WL2225 more data required

Figure 47. Sites Evaluated in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grasslands. RR=Ranger's Residence; RS=Ranger Station; WC=Work Center. (click on image for a PDF version)

Figure 56
Briggsdale Work Center
View to the Northwest
Arapaho/Roosevelt National Forest files
Fort Collins, Colorado
Photo # Kan-828
5WL2225 Briggsdale Work Center
Pawnee National Grasslands
Building NameBldg. No.DateBuilderStyle

Statement of Significance. More data is needed to determine if site 5WL2225 is significant under criterion A for its role in the administration of the Pawnee Grasslands. It is not recommended as significant under criterion C. The site has lost several buildings. Those remaining do not retain integrity of design.

Architectural Plans. Briggsdale Work Center Site Development Map.

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2008