Much of the land in North Park (Jackson County) was settled by the early miners that looked for another source of income when commodity prices plummeted and dreams of “striking it rich” just never came to fruition. Good grass was abundant and easy to come by so the settlers began laying claim to land where they could raise cattle. Much of the land was acquired through the various homestead acts where a person could acquire government land for free after living on it and improving it for a few years.
The land that now encompasses the Buffalo Creek Ranch was no different. Evidence of the early homesteaders can be found on every corner of our ranch, mostly in the form of decaying log cabins and antique equipment, but also in the designation of various fields, ditches, and reservoirs that bear their names decades after they have passed. The Chambers meadow; the House Reservoir, the Ridings Field, Friends Draw, the Slack Ditch, the Brennan Pasture, and Whiskey Bill’s Draw all serve as a reminder of the hearty pioneers that settled this ranch.
Winters proved very trying for the small homesteaders that tried to eke-out a living on their small acreages; they needed larger tracts of land where they could irrigate land to grow, harvest, and store hay to feed their livestock over the long winters. Many small homesteads were bought up and became part of large ranching operations. For several decades, until the late 60’s, the land now encompassing our ranch was part of the Hunt Ranches, an operation that included nearly 40,000 contiguous acres. In the 70’s the ranches were divided and sold. The Buffalo Creek Ranch (or Buffalo Ranch as it was known then) was owned for 20+ years by a group of investors from back east. They were absentee owners and had a family care for the ranch. Between 1993 and 1999, a doctor from Florida owned the property and added the nearby Illinois River Ranch to the operation. We purchased both in 1999 and added The Headwaters Ranch (formerly known as the Irvine Ranch) in 2005.
Much as it was since the first pioneers settled this ranch, raising cattle and harvesting hay are the predominant activities. Today we realize the good fortune and monumental responsibility that is bestowed upon us as caretakers of this special place and we believe sharing it with others will help protect it and, hopefully, keep the memories of the hard working settlers alive forever. We invite you to visit and experience the beauty that has been millions of years in the making and traditions that have been 150 years in the making. The combination will leave you with lasting memories.