A relic of early forest service activities
Cabin Lake Ranger Station is located about five miles north of the community of Fort Rock. It is at a remote location and although no longer used as an administrative site it is a classic example of an early ranger station.
The site was first used in 1921 as a temporary seasonal camp to administer range allotments on the Deschutes National Forest. A bunk house and pump house were added later in 1921. The remaining buildings were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) between 1934 and 1938.
It was not the first ranger station to be used in the vicinity. In 1914, a small house in the community of Fort Rock served as the district headquarters. The first ranger was William O. Harriman. He lived at his homestead north of Fort Rock near Cabin Lake. His headquarters remained at Fort Rock until 1921.
Harriman's successor move the station to Cabin Lake.
Cabin Lake is an intermittent lake that is usually dry. A well had been drilled at Cabin Lake in 1916 to improve grazing on the range of the forest and it became a desirable location for a station. Henry Tonseth took over the district in 1934 and the CCC was replacing most of the original ranger station buildings. Many of the CCC-constructed buildings remain at the site and include three residences, a gas house, a cook house, a shop and a warehouse.
The station was the center of Deschutes National Forest timber sale activity from the late 1930s to the early 1940s. Forest Service personnel that administered the timber sales lived at the station. Most of the sales were to the big timber firms of Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon.
Ranger Tonseth remained at the station and was the only ranger to have lived in the Ranger's house at the station. The headquarters was moved to Bend in 1945 and Tonseth continued as the ranger of the Fort Rock District until his retirement in 1968. The site was used as a fire guard a station for many years after the district office was moved to Bend. It was last used in 2002.
The site was added to the list in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It was planned to restore and protect the site but funding levels have not been appropriated.
It is a classic old ranger station site in a near idyllic setting. Unfortunately the future of the station is in jeopardy.
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