Costs go up to restore historic ranger station south of Silt |

Costs go up to restore historic ranger station south of Silt

SILT, Colorado ” Restoring the nation’s second oldest Forest Service ranger station, 15 miles south of Silt, won’t be a cheap task.

“We originally thought it would cost about $80,000 to restore the building,” said Alan Lambert, Cayton Ranger Station Foundation president. “But as we got into the project, we discovered the floor had to be removed, some logs replaced, and the prices of goods and services have really increased since our original estimate a few years ago. It’s probably going to cost twice as much to finish it.”

The Cayton Ranger Station Foundation is a nonprofit group dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the building and its history.

The Cayton Ranger Station was built in 1910 by Forest Ranger James Cayton and his wife, Birdie. When the three-room cabin was finished, it had cost $731.01, according to meticulous records found in a trunk full of memorabilia Birdie Cayton donated to the Forest Service in her later years. The ranger station, near Divide Creek, served as the base from which Jim Cayton carried out his mission as a steward of the White River National Forest.

The Caytons and subsequent forest rangers lived in the cabin until the mid-1940s. After that, it was used only occasionally by seasonal Forest Service workers and for local picnics. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

David Cayton, the grand nephew of Jim and Birdie Cayton, is the foundation treasurer and is actively pursuing the completion of the project.

“This cabin, along with Jim’s diaries and Birdie’s memorabilia, are a true pearl in Colorado history, and the history of our nation,” Cayton said.

Its most recent residents were packrats, according to Andrea Brogan, Forest Service archaeologist. The packrat nests have been removed, and a lot of other work accomplished in the past couple of years, due to the efforts of Brogan, retired district rangers Michael Herth and Dave Silvias and the foundation.

A major accomplishment this summer was pouring a cement foundation, which was done with donated time and expertise by foundation vice president Dean Filiss of Divide Creek Builders. The porches were removed and the building jacked up to put in the foundation.

The porches will be put back on and the roof will be replaced by Mullinax Roofing. A new floor will be put in, chinking repaired, and various original shelving will be hung back up. The original Majestic wood stove will be put back in the center of the cabin, where it resided for almost 100 years.

“When this is all done, we plan to rent it to the public nightly or weekly so people can enjoy it and learn about the history of the area through experience and interpretive displays,” said Brogan. “If you want to keep a place alive, it has to be lived in and taken care of.”

The Cayton Ranger Station Foundation is accepting donations to help complete the work and provide matching funds for grants. Donations can be sent to: Cayton Ranger Station Foundation, P.O. Box 1898, Rifle, CO, 81650, or call Lambert at 625-9558.

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