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History of Running Creek Ranch

Running Creek was named after Thomas Running, a homesteader and trapper, who settled at the mouth of the creek in 1898. He filed a homestead claim but did not prove-up on the entry though he lived there for many years. In the 1920’s he lost his eyesight and was persuaded by friends to move back to town. In 1927, after he had abandoned the claim, Francis (Frank) M. Horrace filed a homestead entry on the property that was approved. He and his brother Bill then moved on to the ranch where they ran cattle, put up hay, and raised roan horses. The Renshaw’s, owners of the Pettibone Ranch (now called the Selway Lodge) about 8 miles down river, bought one of their horses but kept jumping all their fences and they had to bring it back to Running Creek.

In the winter of 1944-45, Frank visited the Renshaw’s in Kooskia, Idaho and learned that Bill Horrace was so ill that both of them were going to move back to Darby, Montana. The Renshaw's then leased the ranch, bought the Horraces’ cattle, and continued to graze cattle and grow hay on the property. The Horrace brothers were cared for in Darby by a friend, Mr. Harry Twogood.

After the Renshaw’s sold the Pettibone Ranch in the late 1940’s, several people tried to purchase the ranch at Running Creek and eke out a living but none were very successful until Art Wilcox acquired the property. Mr. Wilcox, a railroad pensioner, named his new home Running Creek Ranch and upgraded the log cabin built by the Horrace bros that serves as our "cook cabin". In the late 1950’s, Mr. Lynn Newman purchased the ranch and brought in a D-4 cat down the Selway River from Paradise. He walked the cat up Bad Luck Creek where he slipped a track on a steep side-slope. It took several days to get the cat back in operation (maybe that is where the drainage got the name "Bad Luck Creek"). He then traveled up Bad Luck to Gardiner Peak and down the mountain to the ranch where he proceeded to build the airstrip that we still use today. The ranch was later sold to George Mattson, a horticulturist from the north west. He grew large gardens and planted many of the fruit trees, oaks and pines that are still growing well on the ranch today.

Ken Wolfenbarger, part of the Wolfenbarger family that owned the nearby North Star Ranch, operated a guest ranch and outfitting business in partnership with Mr. Newman, during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It was said tat Ken’s wife installed white carpet in the dinning cabin and insisted that everyone dress properly for dinner or you would not dine with them!

Ed and Vinnie Houghton bought the ranch in the early 1980’s and built a new log home about a half mile up Running Creek from the original cabins and barns. They lived on the ranch with their young family for many years until donating it to Mr. Maurice Hornocker, a wildlife professor and predator researcher at Idaho State University. He built a large pen (several acres) enclosed by 14 foot high chain-link fence and used the facilities in his cougar and wolf research projects.

The Iacono family, present owners of the ranch, bought the property from Mr. Hornocker in 1999, and re-opened it as a guest ranch, the only such ranch remaining within the vast Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

* Early information acquired with permission by Jean Carroll and her book "I never felt poor except in town, Selway Saga 1932-1948"