MacGregor Ranch is the last remaining working cattle ranch in Estes Park and one of the few sites operating as both a working ranch and youth education center in the northern Colorado area. It is unique in that its historic collection and structures are original to the 1873 homestead family, and its collection is completely intact.
The historic MacGregor Ranch remains in operation today because Muriel MacGregor had the foresight to make provisions in her will requesting her ranch be left in trust for charitable and educational purposes. In 1978, The Muriel L. MacGregor Charitable Trust was formed. In 1983, the Colorado Attorney General's office was instrumental in actions to further safeguard the site as the National Park Service worked with the Trustees to purchase a conservation easement on the main 1,200 acres of the Ranch. The site is maintained in perpetuity as an example of turn-of-the-century, high-mountain ranching.
The original 1896 ranch house has been in operation as a museum since 1973. All three generations of MacGregors lived on the Ranch; and today, the museum hosts over 7,000 visitors - over half of which are school aged-children.
The historic MacGregor Ranch was awarded a $252,721 grant from the State Historical Fund. The total cost for the two-year project was $421,566.
The State Historical Fund is a state-funded program established by the passage of a 1990 constitutional amendment that allowed gaming in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. As provided in the constitutional amendment, 28% of the tax revenue generated from gaming is paid into the State Historical Fund, with 80% of the fund to be "used for the historic preservation and restoration of historical sites and municipalities throughout the state." The Colorado Historical Society administers this portion of the State Historical Find as a statewide grant program. The remaining 20% is distributed to the three gaming towns for their historic preservation needs.
MacGregor Ranch received the State Historical Fund Grant to further Historic Preservation and Restoration work on the Agricultural Complex in the MacGregor Ranch Historic District.
The 1221 acre ranch is home to 42 buildings, 28 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the grant period, the ranch completed the stabilization and preservation of the eleven-structure complex and expanded the historic interpretation program. The restoration of the Agricultural Complex now offers students a rich story of homesteading history and ranching lifestyles of the late 19th century.
The MacGregor Trust contributed over $168,845 in matching funds and staff time to the project. Milled lumber, sand mixtures for mortars and rocks for foundations - all native to the Ranch, were used in the restoration project in keeping with the methods used during the MacGregor days.
This was the largest single restoration project undertaken by the Ranch. Work on other historic structures and projects on the Ranch have been funded through donations and capital budget planning.