Tag Archives: Ranching

Grasshopper Valley – Lassen County

A view from the southern end of Grasshopper Valley, August 4, 2016.
The following is a brief account compiled years ago by Lina Goumaz Brownell Barclay (1883-1972) when her father Philip Goumaz operated a ranch at Grasshopper Valley.

The Philip Goumaz ranch was located five miles north of the J.C. York place in Grasshopper Valley. He bought it from Charles McClelland and moved his family from Susanville to here in the spring of 1888.
At the foot of the hill, in back of the house was a fine cold spring. The mail and passenger stage went from Susanville to Bieber in one day and back the next. In later years the change of stage horses were kept at the Goumaz ranch and the driver and passengers ate the noon meal there.
One year the grasshoppers were so thick, a person would kill several taking one step. They ate the leaves off the willows along the creek. When they began eating the standing hay, my father cut it earlier than usual. They ate quite a lot of the hay, so we found out why the valley was named Grasshopper.
There were several other ranches located in the valley. About one mile north from us was the Shanklin ranch. In later years, it was sold to Antone Gerig. Adjoining the Shanklin ranch was the Frank Loveland place. Philip Goumaz sold his place to Bailey, DeWitt and Theodore of the Honey Lake Valley in 1905 and returned to Susanville.

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The founding of Five Dot Ranch

Five Dot Ranch, Willow Creek Valley, 1958. Courtesy of Wendell Loughead
Headquartered in Willow Creek Valley, this ranch, like so many others has a storied past. For the most part of the twentieth century it was known as the Lonkey Ranch. In 1939, the Lonkey’s found a buyer, W.C. Anderson, a banker from Galt, California. The ranch would change ownership several times and in the spring of 1949, two cousins, Ben Dyer and Arlyn Hughes from Gridley, California purchased the Lonkey Ranch. The two men needed financial assistance and brought in three partners: Marvin Kirk, Jack Hughes, and B.B. Hughes. They named their new enterprise the Five Dot Land & Cattle Company, with Arlyn Hughes operating the ranch. The partnership was brief and the ranch was placed on the market in 1958. In 1959, the Swickard Brothers, Jack and Tom of San Jose, purchased the Five Dot Land & Cattle Company for a reported $300,000.

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The 101 Ranch

The 101 Ranch.

In 2015, Sierra Pacific Industries purchased the iconic 101 Ranch in Mountain Meadows, near Westwood, from Dye Creek Cattle Company.  The history of ranch dates back to the 1860s, when it was a part of Carlton Goodrich’s ranch there. In 1887, the Goodrich Estate sold to Abner Nanney, and thus the 101 was officially born.

In 1900, Abner’s daughter, Lulu married Bert McKenzie and took over the Mountain Meadows property. Bert died at a young age in 1917 from appendicitis. Lulu with her four children: Thelma, Jack, Abner and Beryl carried on. In 1948, Lulu turned the ranch over to her son and daughter-in-law, Abner and Shirley McKenzie. In 1966, they in turn sold to Dye Creek Cattle Company.

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Wild Horses

Wild Gatheres
In 1978, the Sierra Club published The Wild Horse Gatherers. It is an illustrated story of BLM’s wild horse round-up locally.

Note: Margie’s Book Nook has received a couple copies of The Wild Horse Gatherers. First come, first serve. There are some other out of print books that the store has recently received.

A hundred years ago, the wild horse population was kept under control by out of work wranglers. During the winter months, it was not unusual for ranches to let go extra help, especially single men. A number of these men, would take a 160 acre desert homestead to make a home, especially properties with unclaimed springs. To make some extra money, they would catch wild horses and break them. By spring they would sell the horses, and pocket the money. Continue reading Wild Horses

McKissick Cattle Company

On April 3, 1916, the McKissick Cattle Company purchased the holdings of George Callahan at Amedee, which included the hotel, hot springs and several hundred acres of land. Courtesy of Marie H. Gould.
On April 3, 1916, the McKissick Cattle Company purchased the holdings of George Callahan at Amedee, which included the hotel, hot springs and several hundred acres of land. Courtesy of Marie H. Gould.

Long Valley pioneer, Jacob McKissick created a large ranching empire in Lassen and Washoe counties. It would all come crashing down with his death in 1900. McKissick was a life-long bachelor, so there was a lot of speculation as to who would receive what. The bulk of his estate he left to his nephew, Benjamin Howard McKissick, who had a spent the greater portion of his life working for his uncle. Of course, this did not set well with other family members, and lawsuits were filed to contest the will. In 1903, Benjamin Howard McKissick could no longer handle the stress of these conflicts and committed suicide in a most painful way, by swallowing carbolic acid.

This event, of course, created even more estate litigation. After nearly ten years, issues were resolved and Jacob McKissick’s vast holdings were sold to H.G. Humphrey, W.H. Moffat and J.L. Humphrey. On February 4, 1914, these men incorporated this enterprise as the McKissick Cattle Company. In the future, we will explore more about the McKissick operations, and this family was the catalyst for my research work in the region’s history.

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Pyramid Land & Stock Company

Patrick Flanigan -- Wren's History
Patrick Flanigan — Wren’s History

Patrick L. Flanigan was one of those rags to riches to rags stories. In 1877, at the age of 17, he came west to Reno where he found employment milking cows. Five years later he obtained a loan from the Washoe County Bank to purchase 1500 sheep. Thus, like many before and after him became an itinerant sheep man and moved his sheep from place to place where ever he could find feed and water. (When the Taylor Grazing Act came into effect in 1934, put an end to this practice.) Flanigan, like so many others, lost over 50% of sheep during the harsh winter of 1889-90. Continue reading Pyramid Land & Stock Company

Susan River Ranch

Susan River Ranch, 1958.
Susan River Ranch, 1958.

Some ranches retain their names long after the original owners sold. A perfect case is the Bare Ranch at the southern end of Surprise Valley. In 1880, Thomas Bare sold the ranch, though all these years it is still known by his name.

The Susan River Ranch appellation does not have that enduring name. The property located on Johnstonville Road a few miles east of Susanville. It was originally a part of the Bangham Ranch. In 1948 the property was acquired by Dale Soule. Construction of the house began in 1950 and over the course of time additional buildings were constructed. However, in time the property was too much for the Soules who had other business interests in Susanville to tend to. The next owner was Lawrence Holland and he owned until his death in 1969.

In 1973, Ray and Elberta Fraley purchased the ranch, who had spent many years in the Standish district. It was ideal for Ray as it just the ideal size for a semi-retirement ranch to raise his registered herd of Red Angus cattle. After Ray’s passing in 1979, Elberta sold the place. Its been through a number of owners over the years, though its no longer referred to as the Susan River Ranch.

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Lonkey Ranch

Lonkey Ranch, 1911. C.R. Caudle Collection
Lonkey Ranch, 1911. C.R. Caudle Collection

Some ranches retain their original name, after the owner is long gone. A perfect is the Bare Ranch in Surprise Valley. In 1864, Thomas Bare established the ranch, sold it in 1880, and it is still known over a century later as the Bare Ranch.

The Lonkey Ranch is not one of those ranches. It was originally known as the San Francisco Ranch, the owners from that city. Lonkey was in the middle, followed by Five Dot. For those not familiar, this ranch is located approximately twelve miles north of Susanville in the Willow Creek Valley. Continue reading Lonkey Ranch

Lassen County – The other McCoy Flat

Loading logs with a McGiffert, at McCoy Flat, 1952.
Loading logs with a McGiffert, at McCoy Flat, 1952.

While many are familiar with McCoy Flat Reservoir along Highway 44, there is another McCoy Flat in Lassen County, This too, was named for another Tehama rancher,  Leo Lewis McCoy (1850-1936) who used this area for summer pasture from 1874 to 1913. When he retired in 1913, he sold his ranch of 27,000 acres to Alden Anderson for $150,000.

For the record, this McCoy Flat is located along Pine Creek, just east of Eagle Lake.  In 1952, it was the scene of the last of the railroad logging operations of the Fruit Growers Supply Company.

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1887 Brand Directory

Brand Cover553

In 1887, two Modoc ranchers, Frank C. Dean and Wilson S. Bayley published a comprehensive 371-page brand directory entitled the Northern California and Southern Oregon Stock Directory. It was an admirable job and in the introduction, they wrote: “All Stockmen are aware that each winter, in every small section of the country, a number of stock remain unclaimed, and on the other hand a number are unfound. Continue reading 1887 Brand Directory