Welcome to Beckwith Ranch!

A Colorado Ranching Heritage Initiative in the Wet Mountain Valley of Custer County Colorado


The story of the Beckwith Ranch began in 1869 when George Beckwith Sr. and his youngest 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 Beckwith three sons attended college. George continued to operate his ship building and merchant marine businesses from Cambridge. The exploration trip to the valley had the youngest son Edwin convinced that the stunning Wet Mountain valley would be the perfect location for cattle ranching. George Sr. 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, Pennsylvania, 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.

Click here to read the story of Willie Hendrickson, a cowboy at the Beckwith Ranch in the late 1890's.

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.
In 1886, Elton T. Beckwith was elected to the Colorado Senate. This is the home they bought in Denver. When their daughter, Velma, came of age, they hosted grand parties in the house to introduce Velma to the Denver aristocrats.
When Elton and Elsie’s daughter Velma disgraced the family by eloping with a lowly assay clerk, they sold the Denver mansion and returned to Waverly and started extensive additions to restore their reputation.

Waverly Ranch Headquarters, 1901, Note the addition of a water tower, gazebo, and brother Edwin’s ranch house moved to Elton’s property in 1899 after Edwin’s death.



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 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 was 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.

After sitting abandoned for almost 15 years and much discussion from burning it down to letting it just continue to fall apart the decision was made to rescue the old mansion. A feat that took 10 years and continues today with the continued restoration of the outer buildings, purchasing of period furnishings, rebuilding of lost buildings, and the never-ending historical research not only of the Beckwith ranch but of the many other ranches from the 1860’s into the 20th century that all played a part in the history of cattle ranching and gold/silver mining in the wet mountain valley.

The ranch complex, consists of the original Beckwith mansion, a bunkhouse, two pegged barns, two guest-houses, a tack building, a blacksmith building, a two-hole outhouse and the old ice house. Below are pictures of the conditions the buildings were in prior to their restoration.

Photo of the 2nd Story Before Restoration

Side View of House prior to Restoration. Small building to the left is an old guest house.

Photo of South Facing Porch Prior to Restoration

Photo of Portico Prior to Restoration


One of the amazing feats to begin the restoration of the house was to lift the house up 6 feet to remove the rotted wood beams and replace them will steel beams. All the electrical and plumbing from the early 1900’s had to be replaced. The insulation of the day was old newspaper and had to be removed from the walls and replaced with fire resistant material. The original log cabin the Beckwith brothers moved to the ranch from a German colony to the south of Beckwith was found and is still visible today in the parlor. One of the most interesting aspects of the restoration was the discovery of the many layers of wall coverings, from wallpaper, wood panels, and a tapestry in the dining room. There were seven layers of wall covering.

Interior of House

The interior of the house at the time of restoration was in bad condition. Walls removed and reconstructed. But much remains of the original mansion. All efforts were made to keep the history intact. Below are a few photos from the start of the restoration.

Original Stained-Glass Window – still present in the house

Original Wood Walls in Dining Room. The custom made wainscoating was in three different rooms in the house.

Origianl WallPaper Upstairs Bedroom

Original Setting Bench and Windows

The Upstairs Landing Being Prepped for Restoration


The Ranch Today

Beckwith Ranch Today


The ranch today is the fulfillment of a dream by those who knew the ole girl still had a place in Wet Mountain history and deserved to be rescued. The house and property are open for guided tours (June – October, Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-4pm. The gift shop is also open June through October. During our off season (November – May) we are happy to give private tours. Please email us at: friendsofbeckwithranch@gmail.com to schedule. During November through May we have many events you might want to attend, such as the Christmas Gift Show, the Victorian Decorating Contest, and a Murder Mystery. Please go to our Events page for dates and times.

Summer events (June – October), we also have several events for your entertainment. These events are listed on our Events page.

The Beckwith Ranch is also available for Weddings, Family Events, Game Nights, Club Events, to name a few. Please go to the Wedding & Venue section or email us at friendsofbeckwithranch@gmail.com to obtain more information.

The Beckwith Ranch has many future restoration projects to be completed, such as the rebuilding of the water tower, the gazebo and Edwin’s home.

As with any volunteer enterprise, the fulfillment of these goals depends on obtaining the necessary funding. The Friends of Beckwith Ranch organization has received 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, the Custer County Tourism Board, the Spirit Campaign and many generous Beckwith board members and individuals we give you our sincerest thanks.

If you're passionate about preserving Colorado's rich ranching heritage, we invite you to get involved. Reach out to us for details on how you can contribute as a donor or volunteer. Together, we can ensure that the romantic history of Colorado's ranching legacy continues to thrive for generations to come. There are many ways to donate including a Legacy Gift. We are available to assist you in setting up your gifts to the Beckwith Historic Ranch.

Entering the Front Door

Photo Wide View


The two photos of the house after restoration are just two of many that show the dramatic change. Restoration also included the two guest’s houses, barns, sheds and a bunkhouse.

About Us

Friends of Beckwith Ranch, Incorporated (FBR)

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, clubs, 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

Advisory Board

  • Board Development: C. Miller, J. Gaulding
  • Budget and Finance: J. Gaulding, C. Miller
  • Strategic Planning: C. Miller, M. Richter, J. Gaulding
  • Landscaping: M. Richter, J. Hoffmann
  • Preservation and Restoration: M. Richter
  • Events and Programs: J. Hoffmann, C. Miller
  • Weddings and Private Events: H. King
  • Historical Heritage: C. Miller
  • Public Relations: J. Hoffmann, K. LeBlond
  • Personnel: Volunteer Coordinators
  • Grant Acquisitions: J.Gregor
  • Education Outreach: C. Miller, J. Vornberg

2024 Volunteers

  • 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

Open Hours

Wednesday - Sunday

11:00AM - 04:00PM

June - October