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History

The Pit River Indians occupied Goose Valley every summer for thousands of years. They hunted geese and ducks, and left behind the countless arrowheads which ranch children collect and display today. The burial or ceremonial mounds which they created in the valley were preserved by the Denny family after buying the ranch in 1986.

The name Goose Valley was being used by 1850.  Goose Valley supported several homesteads, a school, and a small saw mill on Goose Creek. Even after the settlers arrived, Goose Valley was still a wild place. In 1886 the local paper reported that a young girl was being stalked by a mountain lion in Goose Valley on her way home from school – so she walked backwards, facing the lion, until she got back to her house unharmed.

When Mt. Lassen erupted in 1915, the valley was used to feed the cattle of some of the refugees from the volcano.

By the 1960s the valley had been consolidated under one ownership with about 6,700 acres, and was called Goose Valley Ranch. A dam on Goose Creek created Lake Margaret, about 600 feet higher in elevation than the valley floor, to capture the snow melt for irrigation of the rest of the ranch below. In the early 1980s, a small hydro plant was constructed on Goose Creek to produce electricity, and a fish ladder built to ensue that the healthy trout population continued to thrive.

In 1993 the “Fountain Fire” burned about 60,000 acres to the west of the valley, and 1,000 firemen with their equipment used Goose Valley as headquarters to fight the flames. The fire burned some of the ranch’s timber, but was stopped before reaching the nearby town of Burney.

Blackberry and raspberry bushes grew back quickly after the fire.  Today, Barbara Marwick, the wife of Goose Valley’s head mechanic, picks berries for her lovely wild berry jam. In June, Ted deBraga spotted a momma bear with two cubs eating those berries. In May there was a mountain lion with her cub visiting the spring not far from the ranch houses, but they have not been seen recently.

Soon after the Denny family bought the ranch in 1986, Ted deBraga took charge of the farming operation, and his cousin Dusty deBraga became the cow boss. Over the last twenty years, Goose Valley has produced pasture, alfalfa hay, timothy hay, orchard grass hay, peppermint, sugar beets, winter wheat, oats, triticale, beardless barley, sudan grass – and wild rice. Today, in order to satisfy the demand for Goose Valley wild rice, about 2,500 acres of the valley floor has been developed into ponds for wild rice production.


Ted and Dusty are full partners with the Denny family in Goose Valley Farming and Denny deBraga Cattle.
 
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