Lost Lake Ranch

Basic Information

Brand: The Lost Lake Ranch (aka, the Double L) brand is two Ls and an H representing Lost Lake and the Harpers.

Owners
Cody Harper, Antoinette Harper
Jess Harper

Cody and his twin sister, Antoinette, own equal parts of one-half of the ranch. Jess Harper is sole owner of the other half.

Foreman: Ezra Hale, Kathryn Hale

Assistant Foreman: Kathryn Hale

*Note: Kate Hale works where and as needed. She manages the main ranch house and its staff, cooks, and assists Ezra with the ranch.

Products

  • Income Livestock: Cattle, Horses
  • Subsistence Livestock: Chickens, Geese, Ducks, Goats, Milk Cows, Bison (hunting restricted), Rabbits
  • Farm Products: Eggs, Wheat, Hay, Garden Vegetables, Medicinal and Kitchen Herb Gardens.

Geography

Size: 500,000 acres (781.25 square miles)

Location: 48°16’08.5″N 114°30’23.2″W; Northwest of the town of Kalispell.

Approximate Distances

The basic travel times are based on a person riding a horse that is in excellent condition over roads and through mountainous terrain. The estimates are based on riding at various gaits (speeds) as few people will travel on a horse only at one gait.

  • Main House to Ishmael’s Gate (pass): 10 miles (1 hour, various gaits)
  • Main House to Kalispell: 20 miles (2 hours +/-, various gaits)
  • Ranch Boundary to Kalispell: 2 miles (15 minutes at a trot)
  • Ishmael’s Gate to Kalispell: 6 miles (20 minutes, various gaits)

Terrain and Topography

Lost Lake Ranch’s primary facilities are located in the Chogun Valley. The main house is located in the mountains overlooking the lake and valley. The valley itself is cradled within the Chogun Mountains, a semi-circular subset of the Salish Range. The highest mountain peaks are on the two opposing arms and appear to be facing one another. Their names are Ishmael and Kimi.

The majority of the 500,000 acres is rugged and mountainous. It is well-watered by numerous glacier-fed creeks, streams, rivers, small lakes and Lost Lake that lies in the northwest of the valley.

Ishmael’s Gate and Harper Meadow

Chogun Valley is surrounded by the Chogun Mountains which provide a near impenetrable natural barrier to the valley. The only easy access is via a mountain pass called Ishmael’s Gate. The pass is the result of the collapse of the Chogun Caldera, natural erosion and the Chogun River cutting a gorge through the eastern arm of the mountains. The road winds its way high above the river, following it to a broad meadow that forms the eastern boundary of the ranch.

In recent years, Chance Harper had the road above the gorge widened, and a split rail fence acts as a guard rail. The fence has been whitewashed to make it visible at night.

Ishmael’s Gate widens out into a wide, gently rolling meadow. It is roughly a mile wide and marks the ranch’s eastern boundary. The meadow is known as Harper Meadow. It is used as a mustering area for cattle and horse drives and for summer grazing. The Harpers have never objected to local ranchers using the meadow when they have need of the extra grazing land.

Facilities

Blackbird Lodge (Main House)
The main house is a rambling ranch-style home located in a small basin called Snowlight Basin that lies on the mountain overlooking Chogun Valley and Lost Lake. The original home was a two-story cabin built by John Caleb Harper and his father, Ishmael, in 1831. Ishmael and Kimi’s cabin was located further up the mountain in a sheltered valley, but Isadora fell in love with the view of the waterfalls and lake which prompted Caleb to choose Snowlight Basin for their home.

In 1836, after several business ventures paid off, including importing fine coffees from South America, John Caleb had the main floor built and connected to the cabin by an enclosed breezeway. Just after the birth of their second child in 1845, Caleb and Isadora had the second story added to the home. The original cabin became known as the guest wing. The new addition consisted of several bedrooms, an indoor privy and bathing chamber, and a grand master suite.

Due to the reversal in family fortunes after the Civil War ended in 1865, few changes were made to the house until 1870 when Chance Harper had the entire home renovated in order to add indoor plumbing and whole-house heating. Unneeded bedrooms were cannibalized to provide closets, bathrooms, and water closets for each bedroom. The commercial quality boiler system provides convection style heating to the entire home although every room still has fireplaces to augment heating needs. Most of the bathrooms include a wood stove for heating water when the boiler is on the fritz and for additional heat.

The current house consists of two floors of living area and a basement that houses the boilers, root and cold cellars, plus the guest cabin. Although the kitchen includes two large iceboxes, there is also a good-sized stone spring house located behind the lodge. Since the creek that runs through the spring house is glacier fed, it stays very cold and is used for storing meats and vegetables.

Other Facilities
There are the usual array of paddocks, stables, barns, corrals, and work sheds, and other outbuildings. The ranch provides two bunkhouses for single hands and cabins for hands with families. There is also a larger cabin for the ranch foreman.

Employees

  • Sage Miller: Night Foreman
  • Noella Miller: House staff (Sage’s wife; works mornings)
  • Thomas “Tommy” Lightfoot: Top hand, wrangler
  • Sally Lightfoot: House staff (Tommy’s new wife; works afternoons)
  • Mary Hannaford: Cook, house staff (widow, stranded in Kalispell when husband died enroute to Oregon on wagon train. She lives on the ranch full-time in one of the cabins. She has two children, Ellie (a. 10), Noah (a. 12)
  • Nicholas Hale: Top hand (Ezra and Kate’s middle son)
  • Michael “Red” LaRosa: Top hand (bad reputation)

Gallery