The magnificent red barn, seen from I-25, is a well known landmark for the famous Greenland Ranch. The ranch lands were homesteaded during the years of 1870 to 1875 assembled in the early 1880s and became known as the Greenland Breeding Farm. The original barn, built in 1887 by the Union Real Estate and Livestock Investment Company, was larger than the existing one today. Its dimensions were 36×101 feet and the barn contained 18 box stalls, capable of accommodating over 100 head of the best thoroughbreds. The hay loft had a capacity of 110 tons of hay. A Covered area on the west side of the barn stored buggies and spring wagons. In July of 1922, the barn was struck by lightening and burned to the ground delaying all train traffic for several hours because of the intense heat. The new barn, built by Jim Oker of Elbert, was erected later that same year and is 25 feet shorter than the first building.
I.J. Noe (Isaac Jegirtha Noe) came to the Greenland area from Indiana in 1878 and was superintendent of the Greenland Breeding Farm operations for many years. In addition he helped to assemble the original ranch by purchasing homesteads and then selling them back to the incorporators. In 1890 Mr. Noe founded the Eagle Mountain Ranch, located one and one half miles west of the Greenland Ranch and is still run by members of his family. I.J. married Jennie Cain and they had two children Charles Fred and Gertrude. Mr. Noe’s brand is the oldest brand in Colorado and he was well known for his shorthorn cattle.
Cattle ranches were divided into districts with Douglas County and the Greenland Ranch assigned as District 8. The ranch, lying between the Denver & Rio Grande and Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad tracks meant thousands of animals were rounded up and driven to Greenland for transport to market in the fall. Roundups were easily done in those days as there were few fences and mostly open range. Greenland was one of the largest shipping points for livestock in the State of Colorado. The Greenland Ranch provided the holding pens as well as the wooden loading chutes, as can still be seen along the railroad siding. The ranch is stated to have the longest continuously operating cattle ranch in Colorado.
Greenland Breeding Farm was purchased in 1906 by John W. Higby and C.C. Hemming, an officer of the El Paso National Bank of Colorado Springs. The name was changed to Greenland Land and Cattle Company and was recognized all over the United States for its fine selection of Shorthorn, Galloway and Hereford cattle as well as thoroughbred horses. At one time the 15,000 plus acres grazed as many as 1,600 head of cattle and 500 horses as well as raising 7000 bushels of wheat, oats, rye, corn and barley. The ranch stayed in the Higby family until it was sold in 1980 to William E. Simon, U.S. Treasury Secretary, Bruce Shepard, a developer and the Oklahoma Publishing Company.
Greenland Ranch encapsulates one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land between Denver and Colorado Springs and more importantly, is virtually unchanged since its beginnings before the turn of the century. In 2000 Greenland Ranch was purchased by The Conservation Fund in a 5 way partnership with Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), Douglas County, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks and John Malone, a local rancher. This beautiful landmark is now protected with conservation easements and a very limited development plan thereby protecting its original integrity perpetually.
Map of the Greenland Stock Farm
Greenland Ranch looking west.
Greenland Ranch house as it was circa 1960, it was built in the 1880s. Today the house survives on the property, but a fire has taken away the second floor on the left side of the house.