In conversations on the trail, at the dinner table or out on the porch in the evening, our guests ask a lot of questions about Long Hollow Ranch. Most of the questions center around the ranch itself – the buildings, crops, irrigation, how many acres and so on. Some people want to know about the horses and cattle, or how long we’ve been a dude ranch, or even how we became a dude ranch.
Long Hollow Ranch was first settled, we believe, in the 1890s. The present-day Homestead House is so named because we believe the first settlers here built and occupied it by 1895. As the ranch became established, it produced hay and grain for the herds of beef cattle, bands of sheep, milk cows, chickens and hogs, all of which were raised either for sale or for consumption right here. The ranch itself covered several thousand acres, which were either “dryland farmed” or flood irrigated, and employed a number of cowboys and ranch hands.
In the early 1900s the ranch was operated by the Black Butte Land and Livestock Company who used the present-day Ranch House as their headquarters building, with Mr. A. S. Holmes as superintendent. His riding belt and mail bag are on display in the House. The Cottage was erected in 1904 as a stagecoach stop and a supply depot for the ranch cowboys. The Willamette Valley and Cascade Mountain Military Road passed through the ranch at that time, and supply and mail wagons would stop at the Cottage.
As Central Oregon was developed and times changed, parts of the ranch were sold off, the cowboys rode off into the sunset, and Long Hollow became a family-run working ranch. Presently the ranch covers about 560 acres. The guest ranch aspect did not appear until the year 2000, after the original buildings had been renovated, modernized and repurposed. Electricity, running water and telephones had been here for decades, but were in need of replacement and upgrading. Dick and Shirley, with a small group of partners, had purchased the place, running purebred beef cattle and raising hay, when the idea of a dude ranch was suggested. The rest is history, as they say.
As I mentioned earlier, the original ranch covered several thousand acres, much of which was used dry. Flood irrigation was used on the hay and pasture fields. By the 1970s, wheel line irrigation fed by water from the Sisters mountains, was used in the major fields. Since then, a very efficient pivot system has been installed in the large field east of the driveway. Originally, water was delivered to ranches via open ditches, which were prone to leakage and evaporation, wasting much of the water. In recent years, open ditches have been replaced with buried pipelines that deliver all of the diverted water to the fields where it is needed. Irrigation water runs 24/7.
In the summertime cattle graze on the thousands of acres of range land that we lease from various Agencies of the government. We conduct a cattle drive in late April to take them out there, another drive in mid-June to move them from one pasture to another, and a third drive at the end of July brings them back to the ranch proper. Cattle and horses stay out in ranch pastures year-round, where they are sheltered only by the trees. This is the healthiest thing for them.
As guests, you are welcome to explore wherever there is a path or trail. Because animal behavior is somewhat unpredictable and farm equipment can be dangerous, we ask that you do not cross fences or climb on equipment. Occasionally you may see ranch workers going about their business, working animals or driving haying equipment. That is what makes this a “working” ranch.
As you ride the trails here you may see several species of wildlife including eagles, coyotes, deer, elk, snakes, and various rodents. The ranch has two large irrigation reservoirs, one containing bass and the other stocked with trout. Equipment is available for fishing the bass pond. Fee fly fishing is available at the trout pond.
Long Hollow is a vital part of Central Oregon history and a wonderful place to experience a taste of traditional Western culture.