Ambience of yesteryear at Obstinate J is goal of new owner

The main house on the Obstinate J Ranch
The main house on the Obstinate J Ranch

Back in its heyday, the Obstinate J Ranch in Trail was a memory maker for both local and out-of-town vacationers. Shady Cove contractor, John Collins, was one of those who never forgot the good old days at the ranch. In 1974, Collins was employed clearing brush out of what would become Lost Creek Lake. Although Collins lived in nearby Shady Cove, some employees of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lived at the ranch while building the dam. On weekends, Collins spent many hours visiting those men, never dreaming that one day he would become owner of the Obstinate J.

Last December, Irish born Collins and his wife Bridget took possession
of the turn-of-the century property with the idea of turning the ranch
back into rentals for vacationers. The ranch boasts a 3,133 square-foot
main house with a 433 square-foot attic. Add cabins, 2,500 feet of
river frontage including the popular "Pump Hole" for fishing, two boat
ramps, a swimming pool and a small lake and it is easy to imagine
vacationers creating new memories.

"Tucker’s Roundhouse" as the
main residence was originally called because of the hexagonal shape was
built in 1904 by Jasper and Mary Tucker, according to Jim Collier,
President of the Upper Rogue Historical Society.

Several owners
later, Spratt and Kate Wells bought the property in 1923. By then it
was called the Rogue River Ranch and the couple worked the land,
raising cattle and hay. Their daughter Annie married Ray Briggs who
became the first mayor of Shady Cove, said Collier.

Ranching
was hard work and ownership changed from time-to-time. Around the early
forties, owner Vera Martin and her husband changed the name to Sierra
Manor and added two houses, the stately white barn (11,300 square-feet)
seen from Highway 62 and outbuildings. Plans of running a dairy ended
after deaths in the family, according to documents provided by Pat
Brooks.

Pat Brooks, her sister Bunny Pearson and their husbands
bought the ranch in 1958. They changed the name to the Obstinate J and
turned it into a resort. Brooks said the name "just fit" after problems
when they first purchased the property. The Brooks and Pearsons each
owned half of the little over 400-acre ranch.

They put in the
swimming pool, a tennis court and built two more cabins for rentals.
The guests, many who returned year-after-year, kept the resort filled.
Not only was the fishing unsurpassed back then but the ranch also
offered horseback riding. In fact, the Obstinate J became known as a
"dude ranch." It was a low-key place made for relaxation, said Brooks.
She added that everything looks very different now than in 1958.

In
2002, Bunny passed away and her heirs sold their half of the ranch.
Howard Kimmel bought that half and renovated the historic house and
barn and put in a small lake visible from Highway 62. Whatever his
reasons, he sold and the Collinses entered the scene.

Collins
hopes to recreate the same ambience of yesteryear with touches such as
cattle grazing in pastures. The two story house (enlarged over the
years) has magnificent views of the river, lake and hills. In an Irish
brogue, Collins said the area surrounding the ranch reminds him of
Ireland, the country he left 60 years ago.

Although the house
is over 100-years-old, the original cupboards, wood floors and other
amenities are in top-notch condition. Conveniences such as a microwave
and whirlpool bathtub add a touch of modern luxury. With nooks, a
staircase and an attic, the house has an old-fashioned charm that would
be ideal for vacationing families with children. The smaller rentals
are also in excellent shape, said Collins.

Standing on the
wrap-around porch with his wife by his side, Collins said the ranch
would be impossible to duplicate today because of the type permits
needed. Gazing into the future or perhaps looking backwards, the
Collinses expressed their joy in owning this beautiful piece of land
and knowing that they, too, will eventually become part of the history
of the Obstinate J. Collins may be reached at 878-0928.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent

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