Homestead ranch on edge of Flat Tops south of Steamboat on market for only 2nd time |

Homestead ranch on edge of Flat Tops south of Steamboat on market for only 2nd time

The 6,269-square-foot home at Son-Hi Ranch is ideally situated for views of the Flat Tops Wilderness and stands of colorful aspen trees. And, the long history of this homesteaded ranch south of Steamboat Springs adds to its desirability.
Courtesy photo

Mira and John Childress, Jr., the children of pioneer Oak Creek Lawyer John Childress, spent their summers on horseback and doing their chores on the sprawling homestead ranch on the edge of the Flat Tops Wilderness south of Steamboat Springs. The ranch is listed for sale for only the second time.

It’s not often in this day and age that a 1,005-acre original homesteaded ranch on the edge of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area comes on the market, but Son Hi Ranch fits that description.  The ranch, on the market for only the second time in history, is listed for sale for $9.4 million.

Son Hi was homesteaded by attorney John Childress, who was influential in both Oak Creek and Steamboat Springs in the early 20th century.  The oldest house on the property was built in 1904, a decade before the railroad made it to Oak Creek.

During the summers, Childress and his family retreated to the ranch from their home in Oak Creek, and Childress routinely commuted the 13 miles to his Oak Creek office on horseback.

Today, the ranch headquarters is an impressive modern home comprising 6,269 square feet with five bedrooms and five baths. The residence is situated on an elevated open meadow affording unparalleled views of the snowy escarpments of the Flat Tops .

There are also three guest homes and two cabins on the property, as well as agricultural buildings.

Listing Realtor Doug Labor, of Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty, said there’s a structure of historical curiosity on the property in the form of a log  fishing cabin, formerly located at nearby Crosho Lake. The logs on the interior of the cabin are inscribed with messages from long-ago anglers bragging on the fabulous fishing at the lake.

“It’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen at a property in a long time,” Labor said.

Labor is also manager of Steamboat Sotheby’s downtown office at 56 Ninth St. He added that, over time, considerable water rights have been developed on the ranch, sourcing middle and north Hunt creeks, Sonheim and Childress lakes. as well as springs.

In the early 20th century, the Childress family spent winters in Oak Creek, but in the summer, they de-camped for the ranch. John Childress’ daughter, Mira, made a handwritten account of what summers on the ranch were like, giving 21st-century residents of Routt County a glimpse of pioneer days.

“Papa acquired the land through hard work, according to the requirements of the revised Homestead Act of 1912, by which public lands were made available to citizens who would cultivate and improve the land.”

She described her father’s routine on summer mornings: After rising early and milking the cow, he would work in the vegetable garden for a time, then saddle up his horse and ride to his law office in Oak Creek.

Childress always left a list of chores for Mira and John Jr., Mira wrote. They were expected to irrigate the garden, pull the weeds, feed the chickens, gather the eggs and carry water from the well.

“There was always time for fishing (and) playing in the woods behind the house, where we gathered wild strawberries, tried to catch the chipmunks and always picked wildflowers for Mamma,” she wrote.  “If we got up early in the morning, we could see the deer racing up into the trees from the lowlands where they had spent the night.”

In spite of the long daily commute John Childress faced every work day, he treated his children to a trip to town every weekend in a horse-drawn wagon, so they could spend the pennies they had earned doing chores all week.

The new owners of Son Hi Ranch will have an opportunity to add to the narrative.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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