Established in 1864, Bingham Rural Historic Landscape, also known as the Koeper-Doty Farm, stands at 49816 West Bingham Hill Road (CR50-E) in Bellvue, about five miles northwest of Fort Collins in unincorporated Larimer County. The property functioned as a successful farm for nearly a century and remains significant as a surviving example of a northern Colorado homestead and ranch. Today, the farm is open to visitors and stands largely undisturbed in its historic setting.
Located next to the Cache la Poudre River, the Bingham Rural Historic Landscape includes 144 acres of farmland, 7 of which are currently occupied. The namesake farmstead stands along Bingham Hill Road (CR50-E) that bisects the nominated area and contains early homesteader buildings dating to the 1860s and 1870s, as well as historic features dating to 1918. Significant structures include a log cabin with a stone cellar dating to the 1860s, a post-and-beam hay barn dating to the 1870s, large stone foundations from an adjacent dairy, and a masonry Foursquare home dating to 1903 that was designed by famed Fort Collins architect Montezuma Fuller. Samuel and Sarah Bingham originally homesteaded eighty acres of the Pleasant Valley property in 1864. Most of the structures are oriented toward the Cache la Poudre River, as they predate the construction of roads in the area.
Pleasant Valley is a mountain park located several miles northwest of Fort Collins. Early Euro-American settlers in the area were attracted to Pleasant Valley due to its fertile soil, good water, and open pasture land. Many early settlers in Larimer County were familiar with large-scale irrigation projects undertaken in arid New Mexico, Utah, and California, and believed that they could apply those techniques in northern Colorado. In 1860 G. R. Sanderson built the first irrigation ditch that drew water from the Cache la Poudre just upriver of Bellvue.
One of the first settlers in Pleasant Valley was Samuel Bingham, who established his farm at the western foot of Bingham Hill in 1860. The Bingham family laid claim to a parcel, erected a log cabin, and started to improve the land. Over the next two decades, the Binghams built a successful farm and became important members of the community. Like many others in Pleasant Valley, they grew hay to feed their cattle, and later they also operated a dairy. Their Homestead Cabin, originally constructed in 1864 and expanded in the 1870s and 1880s, was a typical pioneer log structure before the completion of a second-story frame addition and a western addition. The structure’s roof was originally side-gabled and wood shingled, but it was eventually roofed in a muted metal material following severe deterioration. The cabin retains much of its original interior, including wooden floors, plaster-and-lath walls, and several wallpaper designs.
Ten feet north of the Homestead Cabin stand the bunkhouse and cold storage cellar, built of coursed sandstone and mortar. The bunkhouse is gabled with boxed eaves, and has modern metal roofing over its older wooden shingles. Similarly, the bunkhouse’s interior features the original tongue-and-groove wooden floor and plaster-and-lath walls. Another of the farm’s prominent buildings is the 1870s Hay Barn, resting on a sandstone foundation.
The Koepers and Dotys
In February 1896, Ohio sheep farmer Alvina C. Koeper moved to Colorado with her husband and made a home in the current Bingham district in Bellvue. The Koeper family built the masonry Foursquare in 1903, but that year Keoper’s husband died. She sold the family’s lucrative ranch and moved to Fort Collins. The Doty family bought the house and made improvements through 1918. The 1903 farmhouse stands south of the Bingham Homestead Cabin, built of coral-colored brick atop an ashlar sandstone foundation with beaded joints. It features a pyramidal roof with exposed rafter tails and wide eaves. The farmhouse also recently received metal roofing.
The Cache la Poudre Monument, erected in 1910 by the Daughters of the American Revolution, is another significant feature in the Bingham Rural Historic Landscape. The monument bears an inscription describing the alleged meaning of the Cache la Poudre River’s name, relating the story of trappers caching gunpowder and other supplies there in 1836.
Most of the on-site buildings in the Bingham Rural Historic Landscape retain a high degree of historical integrity with regards to materials used, workmanship, forms, and plans. The district also retains a high level of integrity with regards to location, feeling, and association. It serves as a shining example of how the region’s farmers and ranchers improved their acreage over time. In 2013 the Bingham Homestead Rural Historic Landscape was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.