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On Walkabout At: The Hornbek Homestead Trail

Basic Trail Information

  • Name: Hornbek Homestead Trail
  • Where: Florissant National Monument, CO
  • Distance: .5 mile
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Time: 30 minutes round-trip
  • More Info: Florissant Fossil Beds N.M. website

Google Map of the Trail:

Narrative

The first thing that most visitors to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument will notice when they enter the park’s grounds is this homestead that sits just off of Teller County Road No. 1 before the turn off to the park’s visitor center:

This homestead is well worth taking a moment to stop and take a walk around the property in order to get a small appreciation what life was like for the early pioneers who called the mountains of Colorado home.  The American West has always been known for strong women and the lady that built this homestead is a perfect example of this.  This homestead was built by Adeline Warfield who was born in 1833 in Massachusetts and was a widower who was able to save a small nest egg of money selling food to miners working the goldfields outside of Denver.  She used her savings to buy 80 acres of land just outside of Denver for $100 in 1866 which is where she and her three kids moved to.  After two months of owning the property Adeline got remarried to Elliott Hornbek and had a son in 1870.  Five years later though Elliot Hornbek disappeared under mysterious circumstances.  No one knows what happened to him, but Adeline was once again alone and with 4 kids.  By 1878 Adeline had saved up enough money once again to purchase a ranch in the Florissant Valley:

By 1878 the area was rich with mining claims and Adeline hoped to make money selling food from her ranch to these miners just like she did outside of Denver.  Over time she created a large ranch that included many buildings around the main house to store her goods and shelter livestock in that would eventually be sold for profit to the miners in the region:

Adeline built a two-story, four-bedroom log house boasting nearly a dozen glass-paned windows. When completed in 1878, the house was the first in the valley to have more than one story and the inside was lavishly decorated with Victorian style furnishings:

It is possible to look through the windows of the old cabin, but there is unfortunately very little to see except for this old wood fire stove which shows how people who lived in homesteads like this would have heated their homes:

Despite how busy the ranch and her four kids are sure to have kept her in 1885 Adeline took a job working at the general store in Florissant.  She would later go on to become a prominent member of the community by serving on the school board and allowing her house to be used for social gatherings.  In 1889 at the age of 66 Adeline married again to a German immigrant believed to have worked at her ranch named Frederick Sticksel.  Sadly they would only be married for about five years when Adeline died of a likely stroke on  June 27, 1905.

After I finished reading the marker about Hornbek and checking our the ranch I then followed a small trail that allows visitors to walk around the property and take in views of the surrounding area.  The trail leads to this small storage area cut in the side of the hill.  Unfortunately there was no marker here to explain what this is, but I figured it may have been a place where Adeline maybe stored explosive materials away from the house:

The hill did provide a nice view looking out across the property that Adeline ranched:

Conclusion

Today this land is all part of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument which is famous for the fossils most notably petrified redwood trees that have been found in this area.  From the hill it was a short walk back to the parking lot where could then drive over to the park’s visitor center.  All in all it was an interesting visit to learn more about how the early settlers in the area once lived.  Adeline Hornbek is a perfect example of the mark that women in the American West made.  She was obviously not a woman that was meant to stay in the kitchen.  She was a wife, mother, and entrepreneur who in her 27 years living in Florissant became an influential part of the community and someone remembered to this day.

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