10732 Cranberry, Boise, Idaho 83704-1809
The Brace and Star Ranches have a long history in Owyhee County Idaho. While on a back country trip in the southern part of Owyhee County last year, I had taken a 16-mile rough road due south off of a 68-mile long gravel road. At the end of this road is the Brace Ranch.
Locally called 'the Brace,' this ranch has been unoccupied since the 1960's. One of the great things about this place was that until recently, it was almost untouched. The old forge and many blacksmith tools were in the barn, as well as harness and spurs. The barn though, is what was really surprising. It was totally made of willow branches laid horizontally between upright juniper poles, then packed with mud from the creek. This building is still servicable today.
I was told that the Brace at one time had an old single cylinder gas engine on the place, and that it was used to pump water from the creek and to cut juniper posts. The engine was not there, but a 'belt driven buzz saw' was in the junk pile alone the fence line.
We took a lot of pictures and then headed back north, to check out the Star Ranch. The Star was also abandoned about the same time and was in a state of disrepair. Both of these ranches now belong to the Glenn Ferry Grazing Association. We looked around and found many old implements along the fence line: John Deere mowing machines, McCormick Deering, and a large steam engine boiler, made in New York state. As we went along this fence line, there was so much to be seen, that when we came upon the two gas engines, it was almost anti-climactic. There were two of them about 40 feet apart, both with their ID plates missing. With me was Bob Thrupp, my gas engine guru and wizard. Bob looked at them, and said that the one with the lip on the hopper appeared to be a six horse Alamo. This had a low tension ignitor set up. The other engine we believe to be a six horse Fairbanks.
When I got back to my home, I called Nick Pascoe, president of Glenns Ferry Grazing Association, and asked him about the engines. Nick said that he thought that one of the engines had come from the Brace place. Nick felt that it was a waste to just leave them out there.
I suggested that if they would give them to the Owyhee County Historical Society, Bob Thrupp and I would try to restore one or both of them. Nick said that we could have them. As members of the Historical Society, we are going to try to find out more of the history of these old workhorses of the ranch and we plan to have a couple of good projects this winter.
We really are in debt to the good folks of the Glenns Ferry Grazing Association, as people looking for salable antiques have just about stripped many of the old ranches this Association owns. When you are in the back country here in southern Idaho, remember to leave gates as you find them, and respect others' property, because sometime, just sometime, you may get caught. There may be some old antique justice to be found-here in Owyhee County.