Tucked in a dell just to the east of I-25 at Exit 191 sits an 1800s ranch house and barn that passing vehicles may notice when traveling the interstate.
This vintage ranch is a piece of Douglas County’s past. Schweiger Ranch, also known as the Happy Canyon Ranch, was recognized for the history the land and dilapidated buildings represent when in 2004 the ranch was declared a historical landmark by the Douglas County Commissioners.
Now with the high density RidgeGate development taking off, what will happen to this piece of Colorado history?
Currently, after harsh treatment from Mother Nature, the property has definitely seen better days. Still present on the land is the barn with the unique cupola, the ranch house with ornate porch, the silo, and chicken coop; however, all are in danger of collapsing.
Rather than tearing the structures down, the developer of RidgeGate, Coventry Development Corporation, has established the RidgeGate Community Alliance, a non-profit organization to assist and fund the complete restoration of the property.
The future of the Ranch has yet to be determined. Some possibilities include a coffee and gift shop in the original house and dances, storytelling and special events in the barn and corral area.
In February 2004, a group of University of Colorado-Denver graduate architecture students were given the opportunity to propose reuse and site plans for the property. Some of their ideas include converting the ranch into a bed and breakfast, rehabilitation equestrian complex, equestrian center for children with special needs. For the main house, other options include a history museum and general store. Coventry plans to consider all of these options when considering reusing the property.
Joseph and Jacob Schweiger, two brothers, immigrated to America from Austria in 1866, and moved to Denver after spending fours years mining in Georgia and Tennessee. In 1874 the brothers purchased 800 acres of farmland in Douglas County. According to county records the land was purchased for $400.
John and Anna Schweiger and their seven children worked the ranch with various cowboys. At its peak the ranch supported more than 200 head of cattle. The family also grew alfalfa, corn, oats, potatoes, rye and wheat. Five apple trees on the land are still producing fruit today. A local rancher manages the cattle seen grazing the ranch’s pastures.
To find out more about Schweiger Ranch and its preservation visit the City of Lone Tree website at