Come explore Northern Colorado's mountain land, cabins and ranches   


Cabin Country is locally owned and has provided the benefits of Northern Colorado mountain property ownership to the community since 1974. Whether buying or selling, we want to provide you with personalized service you deserve.

Bill McClellaned Managing BrokerBill McClelland Managing Broker
I grew up with cattle and horses, and am a 4th generation Fort Collins resident. After a stint with the army, I settled into a real estate career spanning several generations. You might say working to connect buyers with mountain properties is a passion with me.

Jeanie McClelland Administrative AssistantJeanie McClelland Administrative Assistant
Being a part of Cabin Country, I have learned the paper trail is an important part of the process. Details are important, and I am dedicated to assisting both sellers and buyers, keeping them informed throughout the process.

General information, photographs and maps don't take the place of experience and area knowledge. It is difficult to convey the beauty and opportunities for outdoor fun through the internet. That's where Cabin Country makes a difference. When we get out to look at property, we'll use GPS and detailed maps to make sure you know what you are buying.

Realtor Status Not every real estate agent is a REALTOR. In addition to licensing requirements, REALTORS attend seminars ranging in subject matter and belong to a professional organization, subscribing to a rigorous Code of Ethics. Industry standards or protocols can give you certain expectations of fair play and honest dealing. Go with a REALTOR in every real estate transaction. There is a difference!
Who we are Cabin Country is a real estate firm selling mountain land in the scenic high country of Northern Colorado. We are an experienced and progressive service organization dedicated to serving your mountain needs. We stared in the 70's, enhancing a market place in support of the mountain community.
What we do Whether selling or buying mountain property, Cabin Country will help you understand the process. We specialize in all aspects of mountain property ownership and transfer, and provide the expertise and know-how of a qualified third party to guide you through the real estate transaction and closing.
If you are buying There are numerous benefits derived from dealing with a land specialist; a land broker trained to find a specific acreage suitable for your recreational or investment needs. Some of these benefits are :
  • Time saver. We'll listen to you; so we can best match your interest and requirements and attempt to match your requirements with available properties. Color photos, maps, and brochures are available which will help us get started. If we don't have what you're looking for, we won't waste your time. We will not only find your piece of the Colorado high country; but also be here in the event you decide to sell at a later date.
  • Financing. Once you commit to a specific property, we will get you to the mortgage professional that will go over the loan choices.
If you are selling
  • We will provide recent sales information to help you make an informed decision. Through our years of experience, we know the reasons why people do not buy, as well as the reasons they do. We will make any suggestions necessary to make your particular property more attractive to potential buyers.
  • We will cut through many of the delays in getting to the closing table. Once the agreement has been accepted, we know how to get the paperwork done quickly and efficiently.
  • At some point it may be necessary to discuss the effects of the transaction on your tax position. Rest assured that all information will be kept confidential.

What is a Homestead . . . The Origins of Our Private Land

From the beginning of our settlement in North America, people sought land to live on, and make a living. After our country became an independent country, citizens pressured the government to open up unsettled western lands generally for the purpose of raising livestock, and farming.

The Homestead Act of 1862 has been called one the most important pieces of legislation in the history of our country. It was enacted in response to the demands of the American people, and was signed into law by President Lincoln only after the secession of the southern states. The Act was a major part of the Republican Presidential political platform in the 1860 election. The Civil War, which began in 1861 allowed the federal government to begin the homestead process, which had been stifled by southern legislators up until then, as the southern block feared the western lands would be added as 'free' states.

The process set in motion a method to turn over vast amounts of the public domain to private citizens. 270 millions acres, or 10% of the area of the United States was claimed and settled under the act.

As the process went into effect, defeated miners were retreating east, and the Homestead Act allowed them hope for a new life in the Colorado Territory. 1862 was 14 years before Colorado became a state.

The lands offered in the Act were surveyed by the federal government, and allowed citizens to claim 160 acres. Territories were divided into 6 mile square increments, referred to as townships. A township was divided into 36 sections, each measuring 1 mile square, roughly 640 acres each. Most of the Colorado lands were described as being certain distances north (or south) of a line created by extending westward from the boundary between Kansas & Nebraska (which now is referred to as Baseline Road. in Boulder, Colorado).

People interested in homesteading first had to file their intentions with the nearest Land Office. The acreage was usually described by its survey coordinates. A brief check for previous ownership claims was made for the plot of land in question. The prospective homesteader paid a filing fee of $10 to initally claim the land, and a $2 commission was paid to the land agent.

To qualify as a 'Homesteader' and receive a deed from the government (known as a patent), the settler was required be a U.S. citizen:

  • Not to have taken arms against the United States
  • At least 21 years old
  • Must live on the land 6 months plus 1 day each year, for 5 years
  • Build at least a 12x14 dwelling, and raise crops

Union Civil War vets were given a credit for the time they served toward the 5 year requirement. By living in the dwelling for 6 months and 1 day of each year, the land could then be purchased from the government for $1.25 per acre.

landofficeThe Bureau of Land Management (BLM), through the Government Land Office, managed the process. The General Land Office was underfunded and unable to hire a sufficient number of investigators for its widely scattered local offices. As a result, overworked and underpaid investigators were often susceptible to bribery.When all requirements had been completed and the homesteader was ready to take legal possession, the homesteader found two neighbors or friends willing to vouch for the truth of his or her statements about the land's improvements, and residency requirements, by signing a "proof" document. Some of the settlers hired phony claimants or bought abandoned land. Scoundrels took advantage of the lack of enforcement, and often went undiscovered.

After successful completion of this final form and payment of a $6 fee, the homesteader received the patent for the land, signed by the current President of the United States. This paper was often proudly displayed on a cabin wall and represented the culmination of hard work and determination.

While early Colorado homesteading centered around more productive, fertile valleys along the edge of the mountain corridor, subsequent acts pushed the limit, and often left homesteaders with land in mountainous areas with difficult winter climates and land lacking access to the beneficial use of water. Physical conditions created extreme difficulty. Wind, blizzards, and insect invasions wiped out crops. The lack of fuel and water supplies made living in the mountains quite difficult. While 160 acres may have been sufficient for eastern farmers in areas of plentiful annual moisture, it wasn't enough land to make a living in the dry Colorado mountain climate.

The strongest survived, to the detriment of the weakest. As the weaker holders were forced out, larger ranches with economy of scale began to prosper.

The 1st claims filed under the initial Homestead Act were initiated on January 1, 1863. The 1862 Act began a process that would continue for roughly 50 years, and determine private land and public boundaries in Colorado, still recognized today. The mountain lands not homesteaded remained as government lands, which we now refer to as National Forest, or BLM.

Eventually Congress began to allow homesteading on parcels with the limited intention of providing for additional grazing lands (320 to 640 acre homesteads); these acts reserved the right to prospect and remove gold, silver, and other minerals to the federal government.

Proving up a mountain homestead, while initially looking to be a wonderful opportunity, often ended in disappointment. Congress ended the homesteading practice in 1977, with a ten year Alaskan exception.

Today we live, camp, recreate and enjoy these private lands, and can only ponder the lifestyle of these early Colorado citizens as they toiled "live their dream." Today we're the beneficiary of their dream, as we improve and enjoy our lands.

citizenshipMy childhood was spent on the family homestead in Fremont County. I've been selling mountain ranches, land and cabins in Larimer County, Colorado for several generations. Compiled by Bill McClelland, Broker with Cabin Country

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