Riddle Brothers Ranch Site

Archaeological site

In 1986, Burns District BLM acquired 7,500 acres of land on the west flank of Steens Mountain. The core of this parcel is the Riddle Brothers Ranch, a 1,120-acre property on both sides of the Little Blitzen River.

Since 1986, most of the buildings have been stabilized or restored and the entire 1,120-acre ranch property has been inventoried for archeological sites. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Although the ranch property is in a remote location that many Oregonians have never seen, it has a connection to one of the better known pioneer families of Southern Oregon.

In 1852, William and Maximilla Riddle traveled the Oregon Trail and then the Applegate trail to settle in the South Umpqua River country of Southern Oregon. This region was subsequently known as Riddle Valley and by 1884 known as Riddle, Oregon.

One of William's sons, Tobias, married Sarah Smyth and moved to the Harney Basin in 1872 with his in-laws. Initially, they settled at some warm springs near Hines and, after a tough winter, moved to more moderate climes near the present-day Diamond.

Later in the 1870's the Riddles sold their holdings to Peter French (the famous cattle baron) for $30,000 and they moved back to the Riddle Valley. Shortly thereafter, Sarah's father and brother were killed by Indians during the Bannock War.