In earlier blogs I have recounted some of the history of Long Hollow Ranch and the Holmes family who were early and long-time owners and residents of this property. However, I have never discussed any of the details of what happened at this location before the time of the Black Butte Land and Livestock Company, which owned and operated the ranch in the early 20th Century. We know that something was happening here by 1895 because our irrigation water rights date back to that year.
When we first acquired the present-day ranch in the mid-1980s, I began a research project to follow the chain of ownership back to the beginning. It was fairly simple going back to the BBLLC ownership, but records before that time were meager to nonexistent. By the time we arrived on the scene here, the main house, the barn, and the present-day Cottage were here. There was also a smaller, simpler, and more modest building near the barn that was called the “bunkhouse.” It was nearing dereliction and was used only to store irrigation equipment. Since it was obviously as old as the barn and was called the “bunkhouse,” we assumed that it had been built as a home for the ranch hands and cowboys who worked here in the early days of the ranch.
My research had ended with a question mark because I was unable to find any records of the original homesteaders of this property. The County Clerk in Prineville where the old records are stored – Deschutes County was originally part of Crook County, where Prineville is the county seat – told me that it was not uncommon for the original homesteaders in Central Oregon to “starve out,” which meant they were unable to prove up their stake, so the land reverted to the government. Often no paperwork with names or dates was left.
At any rate I was still left with the problem of the “bunkhouse.” Later I learned that early ranchers always built their bunkhouses as simple one-story buildings, probably because ranch hands tended to be a rather unruly lot. A two-storied building could thus have been dangerous in many ways. However a serious-minded homesteader with enough cash to do so would have preferred to erect a two-storied house to accommodate his family and possessions. So now we have made some assumptions: namely that the “bunkhouse” must be the original ranch homesteader’s home, and that it likely dated back to 1895 or possibly before, based on the date of the recorded water rights.
Well, ten or so years ago, we decided we must either (a) destroy the building as it was no longer at all safe, or (b) restore it and preserve the history, while at the same time making it useful in some way. At first it housed the LHR Gift Shop. However, in 2014 we adapted the “bunkhouse,” which is now known as The Homestead House, into a guest facility that will accommodate a family or group of up to six guests.
The Homestead House is great for small groups or families – it includes modern-day amenities yet still stands as a reminder to all of days gone by. Long Hollow Ranch guests who have stayed in The Homestead just love it.
You may be interested in visiting Long Hollow Ranch for a stay at The Homestead House and getting a glimpse into Central Oregon’s ranching history. If so, give us a call and we will be happy to make a reservation for you!