Cousins Norah Gallager Roberts, Dennis Gallagher, and Cliff Edgington at the log house built by Ellis Edgington. photo by Sue Stafford
Cousins Norah Gallager Roberts, Dennis Gallagher, and Cliff Edgington at the log house built by Ellis Edgington. photo by Sue Stafford

Recently, the members of the Three Sisters Historical Society board were treated to a day spent exploring the former Edgington Ranch located south of town, with descendants of Ellis and Ellen Edgington.

The ranch is a lovely parcel of land consisting of pine forests, open meadows, and spectacular mountain views. What makes it special is the abundance of vegetation normally seen on the west side of the Cascades - towering Douglas fir trees, a large spring-fed pond surrounded by lush green plants, grasses, and dense stands of horsetail reeds.

The Edgingtons' grandchildren - Cliff Edgington, Dennis Gallagher, and Norah Gallagher Roberts - transported the group back to the days of their childhood as they told stories of life on the ranch. Cliff's father, Jesse, raised his four children on the ranch. Norah and Dennis visited in the summer and for holidays after their family moved to the Willamette Valley. For Norah, the ranch horses held special interest. On her summer visits she would take the horses out riding all day through the meadows and pine forests.

Ellis originally purchased the full 1,200 acres from William Cox in 1912. Cox had homesteaded the land in 1882 and had one of the first sawmills in the Sisters area. Ellis and his wife, Ellen, had four children who grew up on the ranch and rode their horses into town to attend school. Their youngest child, Georgia, was the Sisters Rodeo Queen in 1944 and the mother of Norah and Dennis.

Don Frisbee of Portland purchased the remaining 265 acres in the late 1960s with the intention of protecting it from development. Tim and Marie Clasen have lived there since 2001, acting as caretakers of the property for the Frisbee family. Marie said when she walks the property, it's as if the spirits of the hearty souls who loved and worked the land surround her. Tim, as he cares for the property, has come across remnants of the past farming activities conducted by Ellis and later his son Jesse.

Lumber from the old barn rests in an open field beyond the remains of the log house built by Ellis for his family. The first floor of the log home is still standing, although it is now open to the elements with a stairway going up to nowhere. The old wash-house/generator shed still stands near the spring-fed pond, where the Clasens swim in the summer and ice skate in the winter.

On the walkabout, the group discovered the remnants of an unidentifiable piece of Case farm equipment, partially buried where it was left, including two old wheels with tires still on them.

A weathered section of fence standing among the trees traces the edge of a long-abandoned corral. A metal cup hangs on a tree branch where the springhouse used to stand.

The house on the edge of one of the large meadows, with a close-up view of the Three Sisters, is where the Clasens live. It is the house where Cliff and his three siblings grew up. Cliff brought the past alive with his stories of life in the quaint house with the sturdy rock chimney.

All three of the cousins painted word pictures of life on the ranch, with stories of haying before the days of baling, and playing in the yard under the ancient cottonwood tree, its former location marked by a remaining weathered stump of immense diameter.

Coming away from four hours walking that idyllic piece of history, the historical society group was reinvigorated in the intention to encourage the preservation of Sisters' remnants of the past - her structures and stories that contain the essence of where this little town at the foot of the mountains came from and who the hardy souls were who took unirrigated high desert and dense pine forests and grew a small town that holds such a special place in the hearts of so many.