Early Architecture along the Byway

Many early log structures can be seen along the byway route, especially in the Wet Mountains.

Along the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway, you’ll see the time period, natural resources and wealth of people reflected in the architecture of their homes and businesses.

The first settlers made simple shelters out of nearby resources. In Pueblo, a lack of good building timber led the men to build homes of adobe. They learned how to make the mud bricks from Mexicans. Adobe was an ideal material for the hot, dry climate. The thick walls helped keep out summer’s heat and winter’s cold.

In the mountains, settlers made use of nearby timber. They chopped down trees, took off the bark and let the logs dry. Some of the men squared off the logs. The settlers then stacked the logs, cutting notches to make joints as they went. Then, the family chinked the spaces in between the logs with mud. Chimneys, and even some homes, were made from local rock.

Many early log structures can be seen along the byway route, especially in the Wet Mountains on Highway 165 from mile markers 0-11 and Highway 96 west of McKenzie Junction.

In time, the frontiersmen built saw mills. Locally milled wood, or lumber brought in on trains, was then used to build houses. In the late 1800s, people could even order a home kit from the Sears & Roebuck catalogue. At least one such home was delivered to Westcliffe by rail. Sears and Roebuck house is still standing today at the Pines Ranch in Custer County.

In the 1880s, men made fortunes from mining, ore and steel mills, banking and railroads. These wealthy men built fancy homes and businesses. The beautiful homes on Pueblo’s Pitkin Avenue attest to their owner’s wealth. On Pueblo’s Union Avenue, Italian stonemasons carved fanciful designs into the buildings’ trim. Artitech Leo Des Jardin credited Frank Lloyd Wright with"finalizing the detailed ornamentation for ...the Pueblo Grand Opera House" in 1890.