by Ericka Kastner
History buffs and Central Colorado day-trippers need to look no further than Buena Vista’s Turner Farm and Apple Orchard for the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
In addition to the 50 apple trees and substantial vegetable and flower gardens on the property, there is also a two-story 1910 farmhouse, a mother-in-law cabin, an 1898 homestead cabin and a barn, all fully restored.
Clara Turner Kroll and her husband Al purchased the 40-acre property with the cabin and home in 1912 from attorney Gilbert Walker, and their farmhouse was among the first in Buena Vista to have running water and electricity. After Clara’s death, Bill and Lora Turner purchased the property (which had grown to 160 acres) in 1922, and later added the barn and other outbuildings that exist on the property today.
Tom Tomson, BV Heritage curator and manager, says the highly respected Turner family was very active in the community. They raised livestock, ranched and farmed, in addition to owning a lumberyard and a trucking company in partnership with Buena Vista’s Harve Flowers during the 1920s. Suzy Kelly, Chaffee County historian, says members of the family led USGS survey crews to nearby mountains and helped them name several of the peaks surrounding Buena Vista.
BV Heritage purchased the farm in 2000 to create a living museum, and funding for the restoration came from private donations and grants from the Colorado State Historic Fund. Restoration is now complete but ongoing maintenance is necessary. The property is also available to rent for weddings and special events.
The best time to go? On the second Saturday of September, BV Heritage hosts their annual Apple Fest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., offering farm tours, live entertainment, apple pie contests and apple picking. The farm offers limited hours for tours. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the property is open Monday through Saturday from 10-5 and Sunday from 12-5. During the rest of the year, tours are available by appointment only by calling 719-395-8458 or visiting the Heritage Museum at 506 E. Main St. in Buena Vista.
How to get there? Turn west at the stoplight in Buena Vista onto C.R. 306. The farm is on the south side of the road, about a half-mile from the light, at 829 W. Main St. Parking is available along the road.
Freelance journalist Ericka Kastner writes from her loft in historic downtown Salida. When she’s not tapping the keyboard, Ericka looks for opportunities to shoot photos of dilapidated homes and buildings left to age in the Colorado grasslands and mountains. To view her work online visit erickakastner.com.