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Driving by History

Travelers headed west on I-70, between the 136 and 135 mile markers, notice a small log cabin, roof caving in, on the north side of the highway.   Looking more closely, which does involve stopping and walking through brush, there are actually several structures at this site, approximately two miles east of Dotsero.

John and Eliza Quinlan homestead


The standing cabin belonged to John Patrick Quinlan and his wife, Eliza.  Their daughter, Elizabeth Quinlan (Bedell) was born in the cabin on April 21, 1888.  In Elizabeth Bedell's obituary [Eagle Valley Enterprise Dec. 15, 1977 p.20], Elizabeth M. Lewis writes:  "John and Eliza Quinlan homesteaded the place and wintered the first bunch of cattle to be wintered in Eagle County.  He did so by cutting the grass on the river bottom for hay.  Quinlan later sold the place to John Langton and moved to the new area of McCoy where they were some of the earliest settlers."

Stone structure, Quinlan site

Collapsed structure

To the right of the cabin is the basement and foundation structure of another cabin which has collapsed over the years.
Looking past  these cabins toward the hill behind, there is a stone building that uses the hill as a back wall.
The Quinlan family figured prominently in the early ranching history of Eagle County. 
Elizabeth Quinlan Bedell was in the first graduating class of Eagle County High School in 1910.  She became a teacher and taught in Colorado for 41 years, 27 of them in McCoy.    Driving by her birthplace, one can imagine what life must have been like for settlers in 1888 and appreciate the determination of homesteaders to succeed. 


Jaci, I really enjoy the local history that you share with us.

I have always wondered about that cabin, starting when I drove by on my way to the CMC- Glenwood campus back in 1971. Thanks for the information, Jaci! You deserve a Sherlock Holmes hat!

People and their stories...I looked at the rocks on the foundation photo and marvelled at the hard work involved. Then, I imagined how excited they must have been to be able to use that cabin...they could store milk down there and other perishables. How cool would it have been? My 81 year old mom is visiting and we were just talking about life before refrigeration. Tomorrow, we are driving to Glenwood and I'll be watching for the cabin. Thanks so much for that excellent glimpse into the past.

During the seventeen years I've spent in the valley, I've often wondered if this cabin could be obtained by the EVHS to be placed in the historical park in Eagle.

I believe the Moser/Mosher family is still very much attached to it. Jaci Spuhler, Local History/Archives Eagle Public Library, EVLD PO Box 240, 600 Broadway Eagle, CO 81631 970 328-8800

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