Photo: McQueary’s Ranch. Original Ford Barn. Part of the 320 Acre parcel homesteaded by Dick and Jessie McQueary in 1895. Later named the 4 Bar 4 Ranch.    Photo courtesy of the Fraser Historic

Have you ever driven County Road 5, maybe to go to the Pole Creek Golf Course or just to avoid Route 40 traffic? If so, you have probably noticed an old Barn being rebuilt and a sign letting you know an old, historic Stagecoach Hotel is going to be rebuilt next to it. Well, the rebuilding starts this Monday, August 10, with a ground-breaking ceremony at 9:30. 

The story and people behind this old stagecoach Hotel is most interesting and brings to life little known history of Grand County. To understand the importance of this Stagecoach Hotel and its location let me give you some historical background.

The chief character of this story is Dick McQueary who led the effort to build the first road through Rocky Mountain National Park. But another important Fraser Valley road that McQueary built is County Road 5 (also known to locals as the 4 Bar 4 road). This six-mile stretch of road led travelers out of Fraser and towards Granby and Grand Lake and it ran right through McQueary’s ranch.

The McQueary Family in the later years with Dick on the right. Photo courtesy of the Fraser Historic

In 1895, Dick and his wife Jessie homesteaded the 320-acre ranch just outside Fraser and named it the 4 Bar 4 Ranch. Before Route 40 was developed the 4 Bar 4 road was the only way to drive north out of Fraser. This stretch of road starts near the ball fields just outside Fraser and ends 6 miles north. If you look closely, you will see that the road signs still call it the 4 Bar 4 road while noting it is also CR 5.

The 4 Bar 4 road (also referred to as the Georgetown Stage Line) is historic not only because it was the first road into Grand County from Berthoud Pass, but also because it was an integral part of the nation’s first highway from Washington D.C. to San Francisco and later part of the transcontinental auto trail in America. 

Given the significance of the 4 Bar 4 road in the growth and development of Grand County, the question to many was how to remember this history and help visitors and residents enjoy it. Turns out that question was answered by an energetic and resourceful group now known as Historic Fraser, Inc (HFI). More about them in a bit.

First, some basic history. In 1895, Dick and Jessie McQueary built the Stagecoach Hotel on the 4 Bar 4/CR 5 road with family quarters and boarding rooms. The 4 Bar 4 Stagecoach Hotel hosted many a traveler on their way to Grand Lake. The Stagecoach Hotel was also a stop on the Georgetown Stage Line. Once the railroad came through in 1905 the stagecoach was largely eliminated but the Hotel stayed open until 1912. 

In 1912 the hotel and barn began its second life as the first automobile agency site in Grand County. Final assembly of Ford’s Model T car was performed in the barn and then stored on the 2nd floor until the car was delivered to its new owners. The dealership survived only 5 years before the ranch returned to its roots as a cattle farm.

The 4 Bar 4 Barn as it stands today. Photo by Bruce Barwick

Enter the good folks of the Historic Fraser, Inc. (HFI). Understanding that history is best remembered and honored with physical structures, HFI started out to rebuild the deteriorating 4 Bar 4 Stagecoach Hotel and Ford Barn. With the assistance and support of many organizations and individuals (i.e., the History Colorado State Historical Fund; the Grand Foundation, Gates Family and Peter Grant Foundations; Dave Lively (founder of Historic Fraser); various McQueary family members; local businesses and others), the HFI team of Rhonda Paschal (President of HFI) and Kent Wehmeyer & Steve Watts (board members) organized this important project. Fortunately, grant funding, donations and in-kind support were sufficient to rebuild the Ford Barn over the last few years. Next week, August 10, there will be a ground-breaking ceremony to start rebuilding the 4 Bar 4 Stagecoach Hotel to its original design. The Barn is now complete, and attendees will be invited to look around.     

In attendance will also be McQueary family members, including Rob McQueary (the great, great grandson of Dick McQueary) and his two sons, Alex and Traver who helped with this project. Also attending will be Aeryn Donnelly, HFI’s special events manager. Stop by and ask them any questions about this very special project and how the 4 Bar 4 Stagecoach Hotel, 4 Bar 4 road and Ford Barn have added to the rich history of our valley.

This project is a timely reminder of the value of remembering history in the Fraser Valley. It seems that some people want to rewrite history today and in doing so use it for whatever political purpose they may have in mind. But as the sign at the Ford Barn states, “Plan for the Future, Honor the Past”, the past is best used to understand what it took to build this country, how and who made it actually happen, and keep those lessons in mind as we continue to build the future.    

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