The Alamo Ranch which translates into Poplar in Spanish was established in 1881 by Benjamin Kite Wetherill his 5 sons and daughter. It was to become a very successful cattle ranch and the center of discovery for the Wetherill brothers'. Many of the buildings built by the Wetherills remain. It was from here that Al Wetherill left the ranch in 1887 and viewed Cliff Palace but did not enter the ruin. One year later Richard Wetherill and his brother in-law Charles Mason, were searching for cattle on the Mesa Verde and saw Cliff Palace from across the canyon. They entered the ruin after great difficulty as the canyon was deep and the route treacherous. When they entered the ruin it was obvious they were the first humans to enter as they left footprints in the accumulated dust of centuries. Richard and Charles were credited with it's discovery because of their entrance into the ruin.
Directions to the Alamo Ranch
Going East on Highway 160 from Cortez, Colorado turn right at the Welcome to Mancos Valley sign. This is county Road H, continue on H through the intersection of Rd 39 approximately 1/2 mile to the Alamo Ranch large pole entry gate on your right. You are at the entrance to the Alamo Ranch. Remember that this is private property. If you drive on about half a mile past the last ranch on the right this is where the Wetherills found their first archeological site and the place where the Fredrick Chapin picture below was taken about 1888. He was an American business man, mountaineer, photographer, amateur archaeologist and author. He arrived at the Alamo Ranch using the Wetherills as guides to the ruins of Mesa Verde. One of his photo albums is part of the Wetherill Archive at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado.
The Wetherill brothers about 1893 at the Wetherill Ranch. L-R Al, Win, Richard, Clayton, John.