Brief History of Spring Creek Ranch

Methow Indians hunted and fished along the banks of the Methow River for thousands of years. One of their favorite camping spots was at the confluence of the Methow and Chewuch Rivers. Each spring an abundance of salmon made their way from the Pacific Ocean, up the Columbia River and swam back to their spawning grounds along the banks of the Methow River and her tributaries. This confluence of two beautiful and fertile rivers caught the attention of white settlers, as well as that of generations of Native Americans.

In the late 1800’s an industrious Bostonian named Guy Waring chose what he called a “fork in the Methow River” to start the Methow Trading Company. This general store was the first of its kind in the area. Previously, settlers had to travel to Coulee City for groceries and supplies, a four day journey at this time. On one side of this confluence of the Methow and Chewuch Rivers, the town of Winthrop began to grow and prosper and on the other side, a young bachelor named Walter Frisbee began staking his claim to a 160 acre homestead complete with a vibrant spring fed creek running through it. Frisbee aptly named his creek, Spring Creek. On July 23 1891, Frisbee posted a handwritten notice at the creek and “claimed his right to the use and enjoyment for irrigating, domestic and mechanical purposes of the said water flowing to the extent of 10 cubic ft. per second of time.”

historicIn 1900 Walter Frisbee purchased an additional 15 acres from some of Winthrop’s first settlers, James and Louisa Heckendorn Sullivan. The Sullivans owned and operated a log hotel for the increasing number of miners, settlers and trappers making their way through the Methow Valley. The Sullivans charged 25 cents per horse and 50 cents per human to stay at their hotel.

In 1903 Spring Creek Homestead was sold for $3,500 dollars. Between 1903 and 1917 the property was bought and sold several times. In 1917 Robert Williams, the current owner left the property to his daughter Maybel White and her children.

The Whites grew corn, alfalfa, wheat, barley and oats on Spring Creek Ranch. In 1929, the family built the original Spring Creek Ranch House. The family literally built the house by hand, since there was no electrical power in the valley at this time. They utilized the plethora of locally milled lumber from the surrounding forests and hand-picked each piece of wood so carefully that there isn’t a single knot in the house. The Whites built the 100 foot long wooden dairy barn, still standing today in fine form, in 1936. They ran Spring Creek Dairy until 1952 when federal law mandated the use of stainless steel equipment and structures. This law put most small dairies out of business. The Whites continued to keep farming and saved a few Jersey cows, some beef cows, chickens, and ducks until 1976 when it was sold to Marilyn and Gary Belsby.

The Belsby family ran a cow/calf operation on Spring Creek Ranch until 1982. Utilizing the 100 acres that were left from the original 160 acre homestead, plus several forest service grazing permits, the Belsbys built up a herd of several hundred cows. The original Spring Creek House was completely renovated and remodeled in 1991 by Gary and Marilyn’s son, Daren. Bob Rivard, Daren Belsby, Jeff Blanchard and Brian Belsby built the additional Spring Creek Ranch Cabin in 1997.

Today Spring Creek Ranch grows alfalfa hay, keeps chickens, ducks, horses and a few cows. The main Ranch House and Cabin are available year round as nightly vacation rentals. See you there!