mountains often have tubes and passages running throughout them.
Over time, as winter ice milts, water seeps into these tubes
and eventually finds its way to the surface, creating a rushing
spring. At Black Butte Ranch the largest spring of this type
is Paulina Springs.
the last Ice Age waned, sometime after 15,000 years ago, early-Americans,
migrated through this area harvesting plants and hunting wild
game, primarily deer and elk. The land that is Big Meadow was
once a lake. Over time it filled with rotting vegetation, Mount
Mazama ash (Crater Lake eruption 7,700 years ago) and sediment
becoming a marsh. Today it has dried into a meadow offering summer
grazing for the Ranch horses.
know, based upon Native-American oral history, that Paulina Springs
was a campsite for early-American migration between the Great
Basin and the Oregon Coast. A cache of bi-faced tools, found
close to Paulina Springs in 1999, and dated to 1000+ years ago,
confirms the oral history.
The location of the current
residential resort is on property that was an operating cattle
and horse ranch beginning as early as the 1880s. The first man-made
structures in the area were a small log cabin and a split rail
fence built by Till Glaze in 1881 and located on the large meadow
east of the "Sisters" gate. (Many people are confused
about the small log structure on the Glaze Meadow Golf Course.
That is the remains of an out-building which was part of the Graham's
The property changed hands
several times and sections were added and deleted, changing the
shape of the ranching operations. At one point the property was
called Swamp Ranch and was one of the landholdings of the Black
Butte Land and Livestock Company, originally incorporated in 1902.
By the mid 1930s, Stewart S. Lowery, a wealthy San Franciscan,
bought Black Butte Ranch and in 1940 installed Carl Campbell as
resident manager. (Carl Campbell was active in the Sisters community
and was one of the founders of the Sisters Rodeo.) The Campbell
family, including, daughter Carole (1952 Sisters Rodeo Queen) made
the Ranch their home until Lowery sold it in 1957. .
The Campbell's raised cattle,
horses and sheep on the property. The Lowery family spent their
summers at the Ranch bringing a large domestic staff and filling
their time with horseback riding and swimming in their Olympic
In 1957, Stewart Lowery sold
the Ranch to Howard Morgan, a former Oregon Public Utility Commissioner.
Morgan then sold the property in 1969 and after some deal making,
Brooks Resources acquired full title in January 1970.
Brooks became the developer
of the current1800 acre residential resort, setting up a homeowners
association at that time. The development philosophy was to create
a community of residential and summer homes with limited commercial
activity. Early lots sold for as little as $5000.
To maintain limited commercial
activity at the Ranch, Brooks encouraged development in the nearby
town of Sisters. Established in the 1880s, Sisters grew up as a
lumber town. By the early 1970s, after local lumber mills had closed,
the town was in decline. When Brooks Resources began developing
the Ranch, they offered merchants in Sisters $5000 and free architectural
help to create a "theme" look to the town. The Sisters
planning commission adopted an 1880s theme, which improved the
town's attractiveness and returned it to its original roots.
The theme adoption has made
Sisters a thriving tourist community creating a unique, quaint
town with excellent shopping. In 1982 Brooks transferred ownership
of the private roadways, bike paths, common areas and recreational
facilities to the Homeowners Association. The remaining assets,
including golf courses, the Lodge, sports shops and Ranch maintenance
and utilities were sold to the Homeowners Association in 1987.
The Ranch is owned and managed by a homeowner's association a unique
arrangement for a community of its size. The Ranch consists of
1251 homesites, with a few lots remaining undeveloped.
There are 33 miles of private
roadways, 18 miles of bike paths, two 18-hole championship golf
courses, 19 tennis courts, four swimming pools, three restaurants,
a few shops and a general store. The two golf courses are considered
to be among the top in the Northwest.
The Ranch is divided into sections including Golf Home in the north, Spring
Home, South Meadow, East Meadow and Rock Ridge in the center and Glaze Meadow
in the south. There also are three sets of condominiums and various cluster
From the time of early settlement
in the 1880s until 2002, there is no record of any man-made buildings
or homes being destroyed by wildfire on the Black Butte Ranch property.
But this changed in July of 2002. The Cache Mountain Fire of that
year was fanned by unprecedented hot winds. One day the fire roared
into the treetops west of the Ranch. Within a matter of minutes
two homes on the northwest corner of the property were completely
consumed by flames. Quick work by the Ranch fire department and
the US Forest Service, saved remaining homes in the area.