Written by Jenny Buddenborg
The Mountains/Plains Office of the National Trust partnered with HistoriCorps in early August to bring volunteers together for the stabilization and rehabilitation of three buildings at the Double D Ranch located in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming - the first federally protected National Forest in the United States. Nestled amongst the Absaroka Mountains, the site is just southwest of the small town of Meeteetse (Shoshone for “meeting place”) and five miles below the abandoned mining town of Kirwin. It is an old homestead turned dude ranch eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The ranch land was homesteaded in the 1890s and purchased by Carl and Vera Dunrud in 1931. The Dunruds set about using the site as a guest ranch that operated until 1945. Over the years Carl himself built many of the buildings. The site includes a barn, cabins, dugout, lodge, garage with stone walls, and an outhouse.
The ranch offered activities for relaxation and recreation in a remote location, including a masonry swimming pool that would have provided a fairly chilly dip, it being at an elevation greater than 9,000 feet. Its guests included Amelia Earhart and her husband George Putnam, an acquaintance of Carl Dunrud’s. They stayed in the one-room log cabin nestled in a corner of the ranch with a front porch angled towards Jojo Creek.
The Dunruds owned the ranch and surrounding land until 1959 when it was sold to the American Metals Climax Corporation who in turn sampled the area for ore, discovering rich deposits of copper and molybdenum. The company eventually ceased its explorations due to fluctuating ore prices and a negative public view of open-pit mining. In 1992, the Mellon Foundation and The Conservation Fund purchased the companies’ holdings, which included the Kirwin mining district, and donated both the mining district and the Double D Ranch site to the U.S. Forest Service.
At the time the Forest Service acquired the site, the Double D Ranch buildings had suffered from years of deferred maintenance and neglect. But there was strong local sentiment for their preservation that has held over the years. Descendants of Carl and Vera Dunrud still live in the area, so the Double D Ranch history is alive and well. With support from the Shoshone National Forest and a grant from Wyoming’s Abandoned Mine Land Program, the stabilization and rehabilitation of the Double D Ranch buildings became a recent reality.... Read More →
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