In the Pines above Paradise

Our History - Protect & Preserve

Discovered during the 1849 Gold Rush, nestled in the Pines at the confluence of Meadow Brook and Little Butte Creek, is a sheltered, pristine, little valley. Majestic Ponderosas over a hundred years old surrounded it. During the Motherlode Rush for gold, streams were dammed with logs. Ditches and wooden flumes were built, carrying water to hydraulic mine along the banks.

During the Civil War, bark on each side of gigantic Ponderosas were cut in sloping grooves, called Catfaces, to gather turpentine as medicine for our wounded soldiers, both Blue and Gray.

At the end of the Civil War, Richardson & Preston homesteaded Meadowbrook Ranch to develop those fertile meadows. They were centrally located near the roads to the mining communities of Dogtown, Nimshew, Humbug, Centerville, Powellton, Toadtown, Lovelock, Coutolenc, and Forks of the Buttes they served.

The Homesteaders again built more dams, flumes and ditches for domestic and farming purposes, to irrigate their various meadows, fill their numerous ponds for agriculture and aquaculture and power water wheel presses. They grew fruit, nuts, vegetables and all kinds of livestock. Apples were pressed for cider. They sold their produce to miners in the surrounding communities, north of the "Pair O' Dice Stage Stop on Poverty Ridge", between Pentz, Clark, Neil and Honey Run Grades, now the Town of Paradise.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company acquired the homesteaded property, as part of their hydroelectric development, constructing the DeSabla Dam and Reservoir. They sold and indentured that property March 24, 1921, through Clay Buchannon, the Constable of Stirling City, to S. A Vandegrift who had assisted them with their project, then a popular Realtor, Insurance Agent and retired Deputy Constable. The property was deeded to him May 14, 1921. The Preston ranch house, now gone, destroyed by fire, was photographed April 12, 1921 during that transfer of property.

The years were busy for S. A V. after obtaining the ranch. He began bringing in Rainbow Trout to plant in our creek, brook and ponds. He founded our Trout Farm, now operated under Aquaculture Permit No. 677, renewed each year by the Fish & Game Department. We raise Trophy Trout to Catch & Release.

Our Red Barn, built in the 1870's, was photographed in 1921. Near the Red Barn was a large Goat Barn, now gone. A big chore was unloading hay for livestock. Over time the Red Barn and corrals were rebuilt, now our Red Barn Recreation Center and Arena.

In 1923, S. A V. raised orphaned fawns, at the request of Fish and Game Warden, A. J. Stanley. The first fawn was named "A. J." in his honor. A deer pen eight feet tall, covering several acres, was built to protect them from poachers on our unfenced ranch land, then Open Range. Six years later, in 1929,   "A.J. in velet"   was photographed with Evalina, wife of S. A V.

Construction of the Lodge began in 1926. It was framed with poles that S. A V. cut on Meadowbrook. The Lodge would house his collections of Indian, Homesteader, Miner, Logger, and Rancher artifacts. During construction, his entire family was photographed.

During the 1930's, the ranch boundary with PG&E was fenced.

In 1959, our dams and ditches were reconstructed, to maintain with tractors and backhoes, rather than by hand with shovels, picks, or with mules and horses pulling a Fresno Scraper.

In 1961, two homes were constructed on Meadowbrook Ranch for the growing Vandegrift family. When one family left, the one artistic home was completely rebuilt with all modern amenities.

During the 1960's, 70's, and 80's, other boundary fences were built, enclosing Meadowbrook Ranch on all sides.

Our dams and ditches, in the 1990's, were again reconstructed to comply with Government requirements, to protect fish and withstand 100 year storms, we experienced in 1994 and 1997.

In the 21st Century, after over 80 years of progress, we opened Meadowbrook Ranch to Guests, who share our respect and appreciation for this part of the Motherlode. We are determined to preserve it for our children and future generations.

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