August 04, 2012

The Ruin of Ryan Ranch

Ghost homes always fascinate me.

They're not exactly ghost towns if only one person or family lived there.

But the ghostliness is the same.

Often you find the homes relatively well preserved, either through the efforts of preservationists, or because of the time period and time frame of their abandonment - depending on how long ago they left and how quickly they had to go.

Ryan Ranch, though built in the late 1800s, appears positively prehistoric.

A former homestead of the Ryan Brothers, who invested in the Lost Horse Mine and provided it water from their spring which they turned into a well, it stands at the base of Ryan Mountain in ruins.

What is left of the adobe house appears more as the result of an archaeological dig (akin to the findings that are thousands of years old at Chebika or Sbeitla in Tunisia) than a historic relic from just over a century ago.

Ryan Ranch has suffered insufficient preservation efforts since the 1930s, partially because the Ryan family still had a hold on the estate (despite it becoming park property in 1966) until the death of Leanta Ryan in 1978.

But the worst of it - that which has aged Ryan Ranch more than heavy rains or an otherwise arid climate - has been the vandalism, including a suspected arson in 1978 which destroyed the roofs, ceilings, door and window frames, etc.

Still, in 2004, Ryan Ranch looked like this:

photo courtesy of Friends of Joshua Tree

Ryan Ranch is nearly unrecognizable now, even from just a few years ago.

There are other relics around the former homestead that make the place feel modern, including a water tank (not original - circa 1960s)...

...some rusty metal...

...and a windmill fan.

There are graves on the site too - lots of them, from what I gather - which I did not look for nor find. The whole place felt like a grave to me.

A recent vandalism incident tagged the walls of the adobe with graffiti and knocked a hole in the wall.

I wonder how long the park will permit access to it, for fear of losing it altogether.

I wonder how much longer it will last either way.

Related Posts:
A Peek into Keys Ranch
Photo Essay: Ryan Mountain Trail
A Stone Unturned: Lost Horse Mine
Photo Essay: Hidden Treasures of the Salton Sea

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