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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by TheAdmiral, May 5, 2012.
Great ride reports! You're driving my dream! Keep us posted on new rides. I really loved this pic:
Glad you like the thread. When I ride alone, it's nice to have Georgie with me. She has been a great riding partner. Hope to see some ride post's of your's in the future.
Nothing like riding on a dusty, hot 90-100 degree day, through miles and miles of sagebrush down into a remote river canyon to do some more splor'in. The ride down to these ranches are more or less a follow up to my Twin Springs ride. Quick note, the ranches are sometimes grouped together under the Birch Creek Ranch, but are in fact two seperate ranches. Also, the Morrison Ranch and airstrip are also know as the Pinnacle Ranch. I've not found information on the name change so far, but the BLM still calls it the Morrison Ranch for what it's worth.
There use to be a couple of river fords near the ranches, but a flood in the mid 1990's and the area designated protected by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act river, I'm not sure one is suppose to ford the river anymore. It's been done (not by me), and I found a place to cross, but time and distance are not on my side. Which is why this has turned into a series, with the Twin Springs ride #1 and Birch Creek/Morrison Ranches #2. There will be at least one more trip to the Watson area nearby, and hopefully the final chapter in the series, but maybe not!
Well, my day started with a slight delay. Rode for over 8 years and never got a flat. Put on new rear tire and in under 3 weeks I experience my first flat. I press on!
Time to unload and get going
While passing by I notice...I hate it when the cow's burn down a ranch house
On my way to Birch Creek, I pass by Jordan Craters. If I have time I'll stop by here on my way back. It's only 3 miles out of my way...by road!
Starting my decent into the Birch Creek drainage to the Owyhee River. In the far far distance, you can faintly see smoke from a fire (da) on the far ridge above the canyon rim.
Georgie always enjoys a water stop on a hot day. She really enjoyed the river down by the raft take out.
I can start to see the Owyhee River below a particular land formation know as "The Nipple". Also, if you look close you can see the rock and wood fence on the slope (left) above Birch Creek Ranch.
Birch Creek Ranch. BLM takes care of the ranches. Here's more information about the ranches history: http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/heritage/culbirchcreek.php
The Morrison Ranch is about a mile up the road, downstream. Here is one of the irrigation waterwheels the ranchers used for their uses. There are still a few up and down the river. This is the only one I saw on this trip.
Just before I reach the Morrison Ranch, I come upon what they call "the bone yard". Lots of old farm implement items. Old and older!
First building at the Morrison Ranch. With the little research I've done, I know this was the root cellar. Morrison actually lived in it at some point also.
Morrison ranch house and some other structures at the ranch
Just past the Morrison Ranch is a river take out for rafters. Due to low water levels in summer, most of the rafting is done in the spring or early summer, depending on river level
At the north end of the Morrison Ranch is a remote airstrip. Because of the Wild and Scenic River designation, it's only for emergencies.
More landing strip. There are also campsites along the airstrip next to the river (not shown)
Time to head home. Cool views climbing back out of the Birch Creek Canyon
Since I had a little time on the way back, I took a quick trip to Jordan Craters. Interesting and hot!
Neat looking in the crater. You can see the volcanic lava flow in the background
Well, that's all for this ride. See ya next trip!
Hey Admiral -- That last post is cool. Really like the irrigation water wheels and the "boneyard." Dual sport motorcycles and exploring back roads is a winning combination. Great riding area. Thanks!
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Great pics Admiral. I've always wanted to get in there more. Up headwaters way did a loop of the Jarbidge once, looked out from God's Pocket. Sat on a rock at about 10,000 feet, looked down and found some old boy's Prince Albert can. Amazing how old timers got around that dry, rocky country. We're spoilt with rubber soled shoes, motors etc.
Finally got around to visiting some old railroad depot's (and other stuff). Here are several short day ride's, mostly pavement, which I've done so far this summer.
I've ridden by the old depot in Nyssa, Oregon many times and it finally made my list. It looked much more modern than some of the others I have visited, but haven't found much online information regarding this depot.
However, I was able to find an old photo on Facebook (Our History ~ Our Turn-The Payette County Heritage and Tourism Commission). This site shows a photo from 1940, so I'll assume the depot was from the 1930's era, just a guess.
Next up was the depot in Ontario, Oregon. I believe these depots were constructed during the Oregon Shortline ownership era. This line was taken over by the Union Pacific Railroad, which still use the tracks today. I believe the depots themselves have been handed over to the cities in which they are located.
Next on the depot list to visit was Weiser, Idaho
From the Weiser Train Depot, I'm gonna head west and see whats down Olds Ferry rd. Olds Ferry road deadends about 20 miles at Steck Park at a BLM Recreation Campground.
On the way to Steck Park, I ride past the Weiser Sand Dunes OHV (Idaho), which is across the river from Farewell Bend State Park on the Oregon side of the Snake River. Farewell Bend is generally where the Oregon trail settlers departed the Snake River heading westward, bidding farewell to the Snake. I believe Farewell Bend is also in the general vicinity of the various Olds Ferry Locations
Since I'm riding by myself, I believe it will be wise not to venture into the dunes and risk getting stuck. Without paddle tires, I guarantee you will get stuck if you stop on the sand
Unfortunately, this guy with two young children wasn't aware of what happens when riding/driving in the dunes. Guy said he had a wrecker on the way. After making sure he had plenty of water for him and his kids, I continued on thankful I didn't try riding in the dunes myself!
As I approach Steck Park, I see what I've come looking for...a railroad trestle spanning the Snake River from Idaho to Oregon
Steck Park, the trestle and poweline, are at the southern headwaters area of the 57 mile long Brownlee Reservoir along the Snake River. It is the first of 3 reservoirs in Hells Canyon, followed by Oxbow and Hells Canyon Dam. You can drive across Oxbow Dam into some great riding areas of NE Oregon towards Wallowa Lake, Joseph and Enterprise Oregon
Although this fella has been run over and taken out of service, it's not all that unusual to find a snake, along the Snake River!
Stay tuned for more
The old buildings are way cool, especially since you've tracked down the old photos.
Was twin springs capped? I keep coming across springs that we have used for years that have had the drinking feed pipes removed because EPA mandates testing but controlling agencies, BLM, BoR, NFS, ect., don't allocate funding for tests, even on highways, like the springs outside Burns Junction.
Love the pics of my old CT90 stomping grounds, back when I was spry and fit.
The pipe at Twin Springs that used to run water was yanked out a few years back. I'm sure glad my tax dollars are paying for bright ideas like that.
Cool old pictures!
Thanks, glad you like the pics. Lots of riders have gone, but Jarbridge is on my bucket list. I gotta ride there!
I'm actually learning quite a bit when I try to look up old photo's and history of a building or area. Something I like to do I guess.
Good thing trailrider had the info. I didn't stop long enough to look around, only a quick rest in the shade and didn't wonder around. Saw a hand pump, but didn't even check that out.
BTW, I saw your bike outside your place in UFO city as I passed through on this ride. I'll stop and say hi if I catch you outside sometime.
Well, this is my third and by no means last venture into this general area. When I first started exploring this area, my idea was to find and ride around Lake Owyhee in eastern Oregon in one day. After my first foray, I discovered I didn't have nearly enough time, and I had one obstacle to cross...the Owyhee River. On my second foray, I traveled to Birch Creek/Morrison Ranches, in hopes of finding a way across the river. On this trip, I found a way across. However, the area is so large with so much history, making a dash around the lake in 1 day would be an injustice.
So, here is my chapter: Ride to Hattie Harrell Ranch.
My route. Just for bearing sake, in the bottom left near the river you'll see the Henry and George Ranches. These are actually the Birch Creek and Morrison Ranches I previously rode too a few weeks back. I've found conflicting names on different maps and generally have defaulted to what the BLM calls them.
To save time, I truck in my TW since I've traveled most of the gravel roads in the area. Here is my starting point. I'll call it "Lone Tree Ranch". Abandoned by some measure long ago. For those of you who've been here, you'll probably recognize it.
On the way to Blue Canyon to start my descent, I ran across these wild horses. Wasn't sure they were actually wild horses at the time, but I've read other accounts of people mentioning wild horses in the area.
Blue Canyon and the Owyhee River in the Watson area. I'll be heading that way first
Head'in down the grade
After I arrive down by the river/lake, I go to check out my first destination for the day, the Watson Post Office ruins and geocache. Since the creation of the dam, this is now under water much of the time. Here's some info I pulled from the geocaching website of the area: "The original Watson Post Office was established on July 15, 1898. It was located at the Robert J. Ivers ranch at the lower end of the Black Rocks area on the Owyhee River in southeastern Oregon. The Post Office served the isolated ranches up and down the river. The Post Office remained in this location until 1906. All that remains today are the scattered hand-cut stones of the original building."
Georgie and I at the cache site above the post office
After visiting the post office and cache, I head west through some hills to do more 'splorin
After a brief water break I check my gps for any nearby geocaches. Turns out there is one only a couple hundred feet away. I hike over and find it
Turns out, this cache was just above another old homestead ruins
Still in the Watson area, I head north of this cache and take in the views of the Owyhee River
On to Hattie Harrell Ranch. Turn south, I head upstream towards the ranch
Nearby I find one of the old irrigation waterwheels used to irrigate the crop fields of the ranch
Well, time is getting short so I must head back to the truck
...but wait, I find one of the river ford locations I've been looking for. I can't pass that by without giving it a shot can I?
That about wraps it up for the day. Just gotta re-trace my route back to the truck
Don't forget to watch the video!!!
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Nice report! When were you out there? We were just out there Sunday and Monday. You didn't make it to Watson Cemetery? Saving it for another trip huh?
Just a couple days before you. I was there on Friday. Didn't see anyone, though there was a pickup with a cot next to it near the reservoir at the old ranch I parked at.
I was/am disappointed in myself for not trying harder to visit the cemetery. It was on my to do list for the day, I just was unsure of exactly how to get there. I presume I needed to keep following the southern river bank (by looking at Google Earth). ...but yes I'll be back, lot of cool things to see out there yet.
I saw a pic of another ranch on the west side of the river you posted in one of wingfooted's threads a while back. Also saw a photo of some ATV'ers doing some trail maintenance on the west side road, so I assume it is passible by ATV and motorcycle since the flooding you've mentioned.
This is a lot nicer area to ride than I had ever thought, though a bit warm in the summer!
I see they updated Google Earth with a new picture taken in July of that area. You can see Watson Cemetery very clearly on it. That narrow spot on the other side of the river is still passable with a motorcycle or normal size ATV, not the monster side by sides every one seems to have these days. I went down it in March this year.
Goofing around with the camera in between some of my exploring for me rides!
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Hey Admiral -- The U-200 on the river crossing is funny. Why did the bike stop in the middle? Didn't look that deep. No luck restarting, or just decided to really get your socks clean and push it out. Nice video. Your explorations are great. --- RRR.