History of the Ranch

The first settler on what is now the Running Y Ranch, or in Klamath County, was Wendolin Nus, who built a homestead and rock wall (still standing) in 1866. Wendolin Nus later resettled to a location on the Link River. The land had been surveyed for the first time in 1858 by the U.S. General Land Office. Parcels of land within the present Running Y Ranch were first purchased in 1875. For example, George Fjock purchased 80 acres, including marsh land for cattle grazing near the lake, for $160.86. By 1882, stockman Dennis Crowley bought out the other owners and bought state-owned marsh lands (as a result of the Swamp Lands Act of 1850 and 1860) to establish ownership of Wocus and Caledonia Marshes. Cattle were driven out on the marshes in June or July to feed on grasses, which included sedges and tules. The ranchers harvested the wild hay for winter use. Cattle would feed on the marshes until after snow fell, often until Christmas, then were driven to higher ground for overwintering.

In 1887 Dennis Crowley sold 1,217 acres of the land to Robert Marple for $4,364 (Klamath County was formed n 1882, with the town of Linkville, later renamed to Klamath Falls. After the severe winter of 1889-90 that killed thousands of cattle, Marple sold most of his land to Eugene McCornack, former clerk of Oregon’s State Land Board (1878-1887). Eugene and his brother Frank acquired over 12, 000 acres of land in the vicinity of the present Running Y Ranch between 1890 and 1907. The name Calenonia Marsh probably came from the Scottish McCornacks.

In 1897, the McCornacks constructed the first dike on the property at the head of Wocus Marsh, (located west of the resort across Highway 140). Drainage channels also were constructed as part of what was called the Wocus Reclamation and Irrigation Project. With water levels lowered, cattle could pasture over most of the 4,157 acres of Wocus Marsh. The McCornacks then took on the draining of the Caledonia Marsh. From 1914 to 1918, a dike was constructed at a location that would allow a large, shallow, draft steam-powered dredge, the Klamath Queen, to work from the lakeside to build a dike connecting the Skillet Handle with higher land near the head of what is now Howard Bay. The dike was 8 to 20 feet high, with the top uniformly 4 feet above the highest water level attained in the period from 1884 to 1913.

Ownership of the lands changed when Eugene McCornack died suddenly of a heart attack in 1916 before the diking project was completed. The land was divided into shares and distributed among family members. In 1917, the 2,500 acres of Caledonia Marsh was claimed by four Geary brothers, Edward, Everett, Arthur and Roland. With their mother, Agnes, they formed the Geary Investment Company. With Edward managing the company, the Gearys made improvements to the irrigation and drainage system, which are still working. Through the work of Arthur (an attorney), water rights and minimum lake water levels were secured.

By 1936, most of the property’s wooded areas had been logged heavily. With drainage improvement in place, crops like rye grass were grown first, with a profitable transition to growing grass and other seeds (bluegrass, Timothy, clover, and bent grasses), even during the Great Depression in the late 1920’s. Bent grasses became the most popular crop because of the growing international interest in golf course construction and the need for the suitable grasses for golf greens. Cattle were introduced into the farming operation in the early 1940’s.

In 1966, as the remaining brother, Edward, reached retirement age, the Geary family sold 8,000 acres of the ranch to Ruth Teasdale, a resident of northern California. The Gearys retained the original Geary ranch land on the northwest side of the present Running Y Ranch. The ranch was sold again in 1974 to Roy Disney, of the Disney Corporation, and Peter Daily, and was named the Double D Land Company. Under the management of Don Hagglund, who was hired by Double D in 1976, the ranch operation focused on growing hay, grain, beets and potatoes, and grazing cattle for the other ranchers on the 5,000 acres of the ranch.

In 1994, the JELD-WEN Corporation of Klamath Falls bought the ranch. Through the efforts of Eagle Crest Properties, a JELD-WEN subsidiary, 3,600 acres of the property have been developed into the Running Y Ranch Resort. The remainder of the 9,600 acre property is managed as a farm and ranch land.

Plans to build a destination resort on the property were announced in June 1994. In March 1995, Klamath County adopted the destination resort ordinance enabling the Running Y to proceed with resort construction. In August 1995, Arnold Palmer held the groundbreaking ceremony for the golf course. The Phase 1 plat of 82 home sites was approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on August 8, 1996. Since then, there have been thirteen phases developed at the ranch.

On November 19, 2010, a joint venture comprised of Northview Hotel Group, LLC, and a subsidiary of funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P., acquired the Running Y Ranch from JELD-WEN, Inc. Northview began a strategic renovation, focusing on improvements to the lodge, guestrooms, exterior, restaurant, outdoor gathering areas and the golf clubhouse. Following the completion of the renovation in January, 2012, the Lodge at the Running Y, joined InterContinental Hotel Group as a Holiday Inn Resort. Northview continues the spirit of the basin and is making strides to promote the growth of the migratory bird population to the community.