“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Kim in Las Animas County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)

Rourke Ranch Historic District 1900-1971

Architecture Reflects Interaction of Ethnic Settlers

Rourke Ranch Historic District 1900-1971 Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Connor Olson, August 31, 2021
1. Rourke Ranch Historic District 1900-1971 Marker
Inscription.  The Rourke Ranch Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000, is a striking example of a late 19th century cattle ranching enterprise. The ranch played a significant role in the settlement and agricultural development of the Purgatoire River area and reflects the interaction of Hispanic and Euro-American settlers. All buildings and ruins constructed prior to 1920 are contributing elements to this historic property. The mixture of building materials and styles used at the Rourke Ranch headquarters illustrates the intermingling of cultures.

After the 1904 flood destroyed their original stone masonry home, the Rourke family was forced to relocate. Their Ranch House, constructed of adobe brick, was completed in late 1904 or early 1905 and was located on higher ground.

The Hispanic workman who built this house incorporated many vernacular architectural traditions originating in northern New Mexico. When used in building construction, these traditions are termed the Territorial Style. Typical Territorial-style features found here include the original
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flat roof, the linear arrangement of the three rooms forming the core of the house, the long covered porches (portals) and parabola-shaped adobe fireplaces. Later the gabled roof and the exterior cement stucco were added to reduce upkeep on the adobe roof and walls. Interestingly, the cellar is the only feature of the house without Hispanic origins.

The Adobe Doghouse was constructed by about 1910. The Adobe Bunkhouse was constructed before 1920, the original adobe roof is supported by log framework (vigas) with closely spaced cottonwood poles (latias). These are now hidden beneath metal sheeting and a corruguted tin roof added in the 1950's.

The Stable and the Barn were built from logs before 1908. Log construction usually occurs in areas with elevations greater than 7,000 feet, however, it is found all along the Purgatoire River Valley where elevations average about 4,500 feet. Settlers in the valley had access to large cottonwood trees.

Eugene Rourke's Legacy

After Eugene Rourke died in 1918, his son Harry and daughter Frances bought out the other family members and continued operating the ranch.

Frances continued to manage the ranch after Harry's death in 1929. During the 1930s, the prolonged drought which led in part to the Dust Bowl
Rourke Ranchhouse image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Connor Olson, August 31, 2021
2. Rourke Ranchhouse
caused severe economic problems for ranchers in southeast Colorado. Many ranching operations folded as cattle starved due to lack of water and forage. Surviving ranchers, like the Rourkes, acquired the land holdings of the failed ranches at bargain prices, enabling their ranches to grow in size.

In 1948, Robert (Bud) Sabin, the grandson of Eugene Rourke, took over managing the ranch. The Rourke family sold the ranch in 1971.

The Rourke family and servants in front of their second residence sometime between 1905 and 1910.
Rourke Ranch Headquarters Based on the absence of the garage, the photo was probably taken between 1905 and 1911.
The Stable was constructed with vertical posts plastered with mud to form walls (jacal). This building technique was commonly used by Hispanic and Native Americans in the Southwest. Portions of the roof blew off in 1997.
Constructed of notched peeled logs, the Barn, exemplifies a common Anglo and Hispanic building technique known as fuertes.
Eugene Rourke, Mary Dooner Rourke, and family. The photo was taken sometime between 1905 and 1910.

Erected by US Forest Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureArchitectureSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1900.
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37° 35.647′ N, 103° 38.329′ W. Marker is near Kim, Colorado, in Las Animas County. Marker can be reached from Forest Road 2185 east of Rourke Road (County Highway 25). Located on the Picketwire Canyon Trail. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Kim CO 81049, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. History of the Rourke Family and Wineglass Ranch, 1871-1900 (here, next to this marker); The Largest Tracksite in North America (approx. 2.8 miles away); The Site from the Sky (approx. 2.8 miles away); Life at Dinosaur Lake (approx. 2.8 miles away); Dinosaur Shoulder Blade From An Apatosaurus (approx. 3.3 miles away); Dolores Mission and Cemetery (approx. 4.1 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on September 17, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 15, 2021, by Connor Olson of Kewaskum, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 205 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 15, 2021, by Connor Olson of Kewaskum, Wisconsin. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 2, 2024