Escalante Canyon – Homesteading Sites

Escalante Canyon – Homesteading Sites

  Walker Cabin My beautiful picture My beautiful picture Capt Smith in bed        GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Because people and places matter, IAWC is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich stories, legacies, and landscapes of Western Colorado.

Homesteading Sites of Escalante Canyon, Delta County

 Designated to Colorado Preservation Inc. “2013 Colorado’s Most Endangered Places”.

All three tracts are located in the Escalante State Wildlife Area and managed by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

The three Homesteading Sites of Escalante Canyon are all unique to the canyon area, not only for their manner of construction, but for the historical elements attached to them.  All three of the following present themselves as community resources in which local citizens can relate to their history.

Waterwheel & Gunnison River Tracts are small parcels of land located on the south side of the Gunnison River, one mile up river from the bridge at the entrance to Escalante Canyon.

East Walker Tract straddles 4 miles of Escalante Creek.  The ruins of the Walker cabin are still standing and available to the public for viewing.  Henry Walker, a skilled bricklayer, built the cabin in 1911. Walker Homestead is listed on the Colorado Register of Historic Places in 1997. ( 5DT741)

Cap Smith Tract is just up the creek from East Walker. Captain Harry Smith was a tombstone carver and a veteran of the Civil War. Rock Man” that he was, Cap Smith chose his home site for a huge fin of a rock, landing on edge and half buried in talus. He used it as a wall for his main cabin.  Captain Smith’s Cabin was designated to Colorado Register of Historic Places in 1997. (5DT981)

Virtually the intact Walker Cabin and the two buildings on the Smith property are the only buildings within the canyon known to survive from the period. All three tracts were purchased in the 1950’s by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Colorado Preservation Inc.

Since 1997, Colorado Preservation, Inc. has produced an annual Colorado’s Most Endangered Places list to build awareness of, and assistance for, historically significant places within the state that are in danger of being lost. These are the special places that define our communities and form the foundation for our collective identity as Coloradans in the future. Colorado Preservation, Inc. devotes staff time and resources to raise funds and rally concerned citizens so that listed sites can be saved.


The Interpretive Association submitted applications for the two cabins to the State Historic Fund for Historic Structure Assessments to document the existing conditions of the structures.  The application have been approved and the assessments will be completed in 2015.

Purpose of Historic Structure Assessment:   Preparing a report of the physical condition of a historic building.  The term “Historic Structure Assessment” or “HSA” has been defined as an assessment of the condition of an entire historic building or structure.  Such an assessment includes historical information about the property, examination of all structural components (e.g., foundation, framing, walls, and roofing), examination of building systems (e.g., mechanical and electrical systems), interior and exterior finishes, and additional issues including hazardous materials, access by the disabled, and building and zoning code compliance.

When the HSA’s  are completed the Interpretive Association will submit applications to History Colorado for funds to help stabilize and restore the two cabins.

Gunnison River Water Wheel to be listed on the Delta County Historic Landmark Register in 2015


  • The benefits of designation to the National Register of Historic places lets you apply for funding/grants from the State Historic Funds to help stabilize and preserve the structures.
  • Create awareness for the need to preserve and SAVE places that matter in the unincorporated/rural area s of our communities.
  • Identify a group that would want to be responsible to help Colorado Parks & Wildlife care for and preserve the structures.