Designated: April 4, 2006
Current Owner: Private Property
Nominated By: Susan Trumble
The Pretty Woman Ranch was built along one of the first territorial roads from Denver City to Pueblo. Though already well-traveled and known as the Plum Creek/Divide Wagon Road, the territorial road was designated by an act of the Council and the House of Representatives of Colorado Territory in 1862.
In 1861, Sylvestor A. and Elizabeth Bowers Richardson constructed a dugout cabin on the west side of the territorial road. The crude building measured 8 feet by 10 feet and had no windows. In 1862, a larger log cabin was constructed south of the dugout by the Richardson family. It served as a hostelry, home, and post office. The post office was known as the Bennet Springs Post Office and operated between December 1862 and September 1865.
Sylvester Richardson served as one of the first triumvirate Douglas County Commissioners appointed in the spring of 1862. He tried his luck at ranching while his wife fed and housed travelers along the territorial road. Elizabeth was known for her beauty and the Richardson place soon became known as the “Pretty Woman Ranch.” Denver Richardson was born to Elizabeth and Sylvester on January 26, 1861. He was regarded by many as being the first white child born in Denver, Colorado.
The Richardsons operated their ranch and hostelry until 1864, when the route of the territorial road was altered to follow Plum Creek to Sedalia and then up West Plum Creek. Fewer travelers along the old route meant less business for the Richardsons. Elizabeth and Sylvester were divorced in 1868. She returned to her family in Wisconsin and later remarried. Sylvester went on to lead several expeditions to explore the Gunnison Valley and settled what was called Richardson’s Colony. He is known as the founder of Gunnison County.