The museum's mission is to preserve and share Ouray County ranching history and heritage, including stories of the area's early settlers from mid-1800s to today. Through education, historical exhibits, and ranch-oriented events and programs, OCRHM strives to increase awareness and appreciation of Ouray County's past and present rural lifestyles and cultural heritage while helping to facilitate open land conservation.
Our Ranching HerItage
Ouray County was developed in 1876 with the Town of Ridgway in 1891. The mining boom brought settlers to this area as ranchers soon followed, working the land and helping support the mines with cattle & agricultural needs.
President Abraham Lincoln signed into law on May 20, 1862, the Homestead Act which encouraged Western migration by providing settlers 160 acres of public land. In exchange, homesteaders paid a small filing fee and were required to complete five years of continuous residence ("proving" up the land) before receiving ownership of the land. After six months of residency, homesteaders also had the option of purchasing the land from the government for $1.25 per acre. The Homestead Act led to the distribution of 80 million acres of public land by 1900.
Our area still produces cattle and livestock for the nations beef industry.
The Ouray County Ranch History Museum was started in 2006 at the request of local ranch families to preserve their family's legacy in this county. Stop by to see what ranch life was like starting from the 1870's and learn about the ranching that is still going on in our area today.