Doris Kittredge and her husband, Jack, moved to the Fort Rock area in 1954. The "Circle-4" brand adorns her barn and her cows. Her modern home was built to incorporate the original one-room ranch house, which now is but a room in the larger house. Jack passed away several years ago, but Doris still runs 40-50 head of cattle on her ranch.
Betty Morehouse began work as a trick rider at age 14 and traveled the rodeo circuit for many years. "I used to be a trick rider," she says, "Now it's a trick if I ride." She settled in here "when there were just five families in the whole valley," the year before developer M. Penn Phillips came to town to create the Christmas Valley community.
Kenyon Morehouse (once married to Betty) has called this area home for most of his life. He's done lots of ranch work around here (for local outfits like the ZX and for Reub Long). And he managed to "go broke making his fortune" as a rodeo rider for several years, fracturing some 30-odd bones along the way. "It was a great life."
One of Marge Iverson's grandmothers came to Silver Lake in 1903. But by then, another one was already settled in. She'd come from Missouri "across the desert in the covered wagon and landed in Silver Lake on February the 14th, 1887."
Marge's husband, Bussie Iverson, claims he doesn't know why everyone has always called him that (he was born Lawrence). Bussie is 94, but he stays pretty active around the ranch. We had to schedule our interview for a time when he wasn't out on his tractor moving hay.
Except for a few years away, Harold Miles has been here all his life. "When I got out of the Air Force and came home, it looked good to me." He especially thinks this is a fine place to raise kids. His daughter is a veterinarian, one son works for the government in Washington D.C., another for the Bureau of Land Management, "and the oldest boy runs this outfit, so I don't think they're doing too bad."
Alan Parks is the grandson of Henry Parks, one of the people responsible for finding and developing the water resources of the Fort Rock Valley. Henry's wife, Alice, was a pioneer in her own right, securing grants to experiment with growing various vegetables, trees and flowering plants here in the desert. Today, Laura Parks, Alan's wife, carries on the horticultural tradition, and many of Alice's original plantings - asparagus, irises, roses and poplars - are still growing around the Parks' ranch.
There's a well-known photo of Reub Long as a small child, sitting in a cabin doorway with a young girl, his sister Anna. Jim Linebaugh is Anna's son and Reub Long's nephew. Though he grew up in Silver Lake and knew Reub well, Jim now works as a range management consultant in Carson City, Nevada. He comes back to visit folks in the Fort Rock area whenever he can.