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
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
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
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.