Harbison Ranch

The Harbison family moved to Denver from Kansas about 1890, and after visiting a relative in Grand Lake, Colorado, in May of 1895 the sisters – Kitty and Annie – filed for homesteads on adjacent tracts of land about a mile northwest of Grand Lake. To satisfy the residence requirements of the Homestead Act, each built a cabin on her homestead – the two cabins, not more than 100 feet apart – and built the Big Cabin, in which the family lived, between them.

A contemporary writer says the sisters “worked like men.” They cut and stacked the hay, roped the horses, fed and milked their sizable dairy herd – and then rolled young brother Rob out of bed to deliver milk and butter around Grand Lake in his horse-drawn cart.

Kitty promised to marry Henry Schnoor if he would add a bay window to his cabin to provide adequate sunlight for her geraniums but, the bay window completed, she sadly told Henry that Annie could not run the ranch alone and marriage was impossible.

About 1905 they began to take in summer guests at the ranch, gradually adding tourist cabins. Their Sunday dinners were legendary, the talk of Grand Lake.

As they lived, so did they die. Their double funeral was held at the Grand Lake Community House on November 14, 1938: Annie was 70, Kitty was 66.

Today the meadow is empty, the road is abandoned, the family is gone. All that remains is the stone in the Grand Lake Cemetery.

This information was provided by D. Ferrel Atkins, Park Volunteer

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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Estes Park, CO 80517

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Through winter, the Information Office is open 8:00 am–4:30 pm Mon–Fri. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

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