Saturday, November 5, 2016

Moon-Randolph Homestead

 Less than two miles from downtown Missoula, history and culture intertwine at an old ranch in the Rattlesnake foothills. The City of Missoula purchased the 470-acre Randolph property in 1996 to preserve open space for animals, plants and people. We'd wanted to visit this ranch for some time, but knew it could only be reached by a trail crossing the side-hill above the city. Finally the day arrived and we began the climb. The view of Missoula was outstanding. We could see Lolo Peak in the far distance, and enjoyed picking out familiar buildings in the downtown.

 Just about at the point of saying, "Should we go back? Are we ever going to get there?" we came over a rise and saw the ranch below, in that first group of trees. We got our second wind and made it down to the group of buildings known as Moon-Randolph Homestead. The ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places. Ray and Luella Moon filed a 160 acre homestead in 1889 and were soon producing fruits and vegetables and even a bit of coal, which they carried to the city of Missoula by wagon.

The largest building on the property, and the most noticable, is the old barn, seemingly put together hodge-podge with a variety of materials. There were parts of railroad cars and old bedsteads holding the thing up. The Moons worked with what they had!

 I admired the ancient, worn and colorful wood throughout.

In 1894 the Moons sold the ranch to Ray's parents, William and Emma Randolph. This tiny house was where the Moons raised several children. There was a larger home up the hillside, built later. The ranch continued to supply much in the way of produce to the citizens of the town below.

  This is a root cellar, used of course for the root crops and apples and such, and also canned goods. In 1996 the city purchased the property, and since then there have been people who have been hired to live there in a more modern cabin, keeping up the gardens and orchards, maintaining the water wells, and showing interested folks around. When we were there a man and his little daughter were gathering apples and making cider in an old fashioned cider press found on the property.

This is Caroline, the current caretaker of the Homestead. She has a college degree enabling her to do exactly what she does here. On a very special note, she saw how exhausted we were after our long climb up the hillside, and also noticing our gray heads, so she volunteered to take us back to where our car was parked. Now, that's service! 
Thanks, Caroline!