Friday, October 4, 2013

Remembering Tex Creek

 Today as I was reminiscing, I came across an ad for a dude ranch in WYO. In 2000 - 01-02 Sally and I spent a couple of summers in Idaho. East of Idaho Falls in the SE corner of the state. Not in the rugged mountains of the northern part but in an area where it was a semi arid. An area where once you get away from the Salmon River and the irrigation it was DRY.
 Idaho Fish & Game have WILD LIFE MANAGEMENT AREA (WMA) there is called Tex Creek WMA. My wife ally & I were caretakers there for 2 wonderful summers. Land that is open to the public for recreation and  hunting. 33000 acres of this semi arid land that they were and still are trying to put back the original types of grasses that were there before the area was opened to settler in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
 They could have free (work very hard) for  160 or more acres of land. They had to have a house (shack) and the minimum size which I believe was 8 x 16. These  houses were crude even by the standards of that bygone era. In the Tex Creek area there were trees so they didn't have the "sod shanty's" as they did on the prairies. Sheep seemed to be the main livestock of the area and they did thrive until wool went out because of the new man made fabrics. The settlers built their corrals for their sheep, birthing corrals. And of course for the winter they had to have hay for feed and so different grasses were planted for that.
 Stories abound about their experiences and one I remember from a couple of gentlemen that grew up in the Tex Creek area was as follows.
  In the winters the wives an kids went into a town usually Idaho Falls about 20 miles away. Dad and maybe a hired hand or oldest boy would stay out with the sheep for the winter. In the winter of 1938-39 or 41-42 there was an extremely over abundant amount of snow. (They needed the snow for the water in the summers, any draw or area where the snow would drift they would pack down and cover with hay, layer after layer for the summer use for the garden and daily living.) Mother knew that the men needed supplies as nobody had been into town to get any for quite awhile because of the snow. And from what I could ascertain snow depths were 8 to 12 ft in depth on the level.)
 The mother heard about a barnstormer that was in town. (barnstormers were pilots that would come into different towns and give air shows and give people rides &etc). So she fed the barnstormer a great meal or 2 and he in return air dropped supplies to her husband and the hired man out at the shack. He did this on his way out of town to his next airshow town. She had noway to know if the supplies made it or not until the weather broke and her husband walked into town.
 The family was greatly relieved when dad did make the trip and they the found out they had been out of food for several days before the air drop.

 As most of you know we've worked at different campgrounds all over the US.  On the 33,000 acres are only 5 camp-sites. One of my jobs is to keep them campable, mow and etc. All of the sites have a hitching post , fire ring. One of the sites is a fenced in area of 2 or 3 acres. It used to be a shearing pen. All of the ranchers would bring in their sheep to be sheared there. I has 2 hitching posts, fire rings and a fence. The horses can be turned loose when they close the gate. There is even a creek running through it. The sites are scattered over about 5 miles.
  Fish & Game is actively planting the grasses, shrubs that the settlers worked so hard to get rid of. Their headquarters is located about 13 miles off of the main road. I told everybody that the driveway was 13 miles long and it was, BUT the county road commission maintaines it

Part of the road going into Tex Creek. This section is called a "dugway" and was originally dug by hand around the hill (mtn). The white on the right hand side is white ash from the volcanoes many years ago, still very soft. The drop off on the left is 400 feet probably (I never measured it)


More of the "driveway"

The next picture is the gate at Tex Creek headquarters. It is very wide to accommodate equipment of all kinds. To the right you can see the quanset building used for some storage


After you enter the gate and go around the quonset you see most of the compound. Top left is the maintenance building. This side of it but hard to see is the office, in the middle interns quarters and to the right is the caretakers.  

Out behind the maintenance building is a pistol range and stretching out to the right is a 3 or 400 yd rifle range (can't remember whch). Each of the other buildings are modular 16 X 70 foot insulated modular housing with 2X6 studs, full bathroom caretakers had 2 full baths, kitchen and 2 bedrooms. Complete wth propane for cooking, hotwater, generator for electricity which would run the furnace. Also a wood stove with ample wood supplied. Each of the housing units were basically the same, only different.
  The maintenance building has its own large generator to run the welders and etcetera. With a metal and woodworking equipment to satisfy most guys.
 Then there is a couple storage units for oil and one for hand tools, shovels, picks rakes & etc. Equipment included a large articulated tracter (White I think), a new IH probably 80 to 100 hp. A Massey Ferguson with a front end loader. Then there was the little John Deer 45 hp LAWNMOWER.  Plus other equipment for planting. Also a Allis dozer that I got running (didn't need much) and was very instrumental  we found out later on.

Maintenance building, notice the 6X6 with 500 gallon water tank.



"The lawn mower"

Transportation for me that  is furnished is a 4X4 pickup. Probably the oldest in the fleet but, dependable. I go on different patrols and the four wheel drive is mandatory.  When it rains the clay turns into gumbo and you must put chains on the front wheels if you want to go anyplace. Also available when needed ae ATVs, 4 wheel drive tractors and the dozer. 
 There are 2 temporary full time employees and they get the soil ready to plant an they plant also.
  On the side of some hills they are planting "plantations" they call them. Large pieces of black material, like they put around swimming pools, maybe 60 ft wide and forever long is laid down on the land.  They use a powered  post hole digger to make the holes in the plastic and dig the holes for their plants. The black material soaks up the heat and lets the water soak down and protect the groound from the wind. All in all it is quite a undertaking/


 You might have noticed that a lot of my entries are not in chronological order. Through the years I've had 2 or 3 different blogs at different URLs. A couple of them went kaput. MSN was one of them the other I cannot remember. Each time I've had to move the blog some of the entries went missing. I know that is hard to believe but so be it. With some friends help and a scrapbook made by one of my daughters I've been able to resurrect a few of the entries. Blogger, so far, has not let me move the entries around so that I can put them in the right order. Bear with me.

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