In 1937, the U.S. Forest Service built a ranger station on Main Street in downtown Buena Vista. It remains the only historical downtown ranger station in Colorado. It served its purpose for the Forest Service until the 1970s when it became a Chaffee County health clinic. For the past 20 years the building has sat empty and unused despite the location next to the old State Highway building (currently the Trailhead) and near the intersection of Main Street and Colorado Avenue.
“It was like ‘70s wood paneling, pink carpet,” said Rick Bieterman, as we sat in what used to be the garage of the old ranger station. “And so we came in and ripped all that stuff out and found this brick under all that paneling. And these floors are the original plywood floors that we just sanded down, took the carpet off and just went with it.”
“Our vision is to pop that back wall out – it’s really just a plywood wall – and put a garage door back in to open it up to all we’ve got going on outside, too.” Bieterman has been remodeling the property since he and his wife, Katy Welter, bought the building through a government auction in January of last year. They plan to make the necessary functional renovations while keeping the character of what it was in the ‘30s and ‘40s. They hope to register the building as a local historic landmark. Bieterman and Welter have turned the space into a hub for community events and business incubation, which they call Watershed BV.