Riddle Brothers Ranch
Welcome to Riddle Brothers Ranch – part of the historic context of pioneer settlement and the development of the livestock industry in the American West. Walter, Frederick, and Benjamin Riddle were three bachelor brothers who secured home sites and raised livestock in and around the ranch. Migrating from western Oregon, they settled in the early 1900s and built their ranch by gaining control of water in the area. In the late 1950s the Riddle brothers sold their ranch holding to Rex Clemens. In 1986 BLM purchased the property from Clemens and has since managed the ranch for its historic values.
The structures remaining on this ranch and their setting conjure up images of simpler times… homemade housing, handcrafted furnishings, kerosene lights, candles, streams full of trout, and habitats conducive to both livestock production and the support of wildlife. The Riddle Brothers Ranch was part of Oregon’s last frontier, the settlement on semiarid lands which captured the interest of thousands of speculators and home-seekers in the northern Great Basin between 1900 and 1920.
The ranch is a uniquely preserved complex of buildings which give testimony to ranch life and living conditions "out back and beyond." The BLM has been restoring and stabilizing the structures over the past decade. Work on most of the buildings has been completed, but work remains on the root cellar and blacksmith shop. The repairs are not meant to change the quality or historic representation of the buildings. They are for structural support and preservation of deteriorating pieces so the buildings can exist for present and future generations to enjoy.
Know before You Go
Access into Riddle Brothers Ranch is regulated by a locked gate during the summer season, which is usually mid-June through October. The gate is open to vehicular travel periodically throughout the week and as conditions allow. Travelers should call the Burns District office or check the sign on the access gate to find out when the road will be open. Access by foot, bicycle, or horseback is permitted anytime. The road into Riddle is rough, especially during wet conditions. High clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended.
Amenities at Riddle Brothers Ranch are few. A vault restroom is available for public use, but drinking water, overnight use areas, cell phone service and other conveniences are not available. Camping at Riddle Brothers Ranch, in the structures or on the lawn, is prohibited. The closest camping facilities are at South Steens Campground just two miles away. Visitors should avoid disturbing any historical sites or artifacts. Leave these remnants of the past for others to enjoy.
Fishing, hiking, horseback riding, exploring, or relaxing along the Little Blitzen River among shaded cottonwoods are some of the many activities awaiting you at Riddle Brothers Ranch. Many visitors enjoy discovering the historic structures scattered across the ranch meadows including the Fred Riddle house, Ben Riddle house, barn, bathhouse and willow corral. Others may hike the Cold Springs Road north of Riddle Brothers Ranch to access portions of the Steens Mountain Wilderness, or east cross-country to reach Little Blitzen Gorge. The outstanding scenery and cultural history of the area will make any recreational experience one to remember.
Directions to Riddle Brothers Ranch
From Burns, take State Highway 78 southeast for approximately 2 miles. Turn right onto State Highway 205 and travel south for 60 miles to Frenchglen. Continue on 205 through the town of Frenchglen and up “P” Hill, travel approximately 10 miles, then turn left on the Steens Mountain Loop Road south entrance. The turn-off to Riddle Brothers is approximately 20 miles off Highway 205.
Camp Gap Ranch
Welcome to Camp Gap Ranch – one of the original camps established to support President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was created in 1933 as a federal public works program to provide employment for out-of-work young men, particularly from the cities in the eastern U.S. CCC Camp Gap Ranch was developed in 1934. At first a tent camp, Camp Gap Ranch was soon transformed into a more permanent facility with wood-framed barracks, kitchen/mess hall, officers’ quarters, shops and other support buildings. The camp was staffed by up to 200 enrollees, supervisors and officers and operated from 1934 to 1942. The men of Camp Gap Ranch worked for the U.S. Grazing service and built range improvements such as fences and reservoirs, drilled wells, built roads and cut vast quantities of juniper posts for fencing projects.
Most of the buildings at Camp Gap Ranch were pre-fabricated and bolted together. When World War II began in 1941, all of the wooden buildings were dismantled and moved elsewhere to support the war effort. All that remained at the camp were a few rock buildings, water tower, pump house/windmill tower, rubble rock walls, rock-lined paths and a seemingly random assortment of concrete foundations.
After being abandoned in 1942, the remaining buildings were left to deteriorate. By the 1970s the Bureau of Land Management recognized the historic value of the site and re-roofed the remaining camp buildings. During the 1980s brush was cut down and burned in order to protect the camp from wild fire. In the late 1990s, the pump house/windmill tower was reconstructed, the southern stone building was restored, and the cold house was stabilized.
Know Before You Go
Please take care to leave the site as you found it and do not disturb buildings or rock features to remove artifacts. Be on the lookout for ticks and rattlesnakes which are present during spring and summer. Shade is limited and temperatures at Gap Ranch can reach 100 degrees in July and August. With no potable water, restroom facilities, cell phone service, or designated camping areas, travelers should bring their own conveniences.
Hiking, horseback riding, exploring and discovering the historic structures scattered across Camp Gap Ranch are popular activities.
Directions to Camp Gap Ranch
From Burns, take Highway 20 west for approximately 40 miles to milepost 91, then turn left onto the Gap Ranch entrance road.