John Jarvie Ranch

A visit to the historic Jarvie property provides a glimpse of turn-of-the-century frontier life in what is still a remote part of the West--Browns Park. Of the many sites along the Green River which Mr. Jarvie could have settled, he chose this particular one because of the naturally occurring river crossing. For years it had been used by Indians, fur trappers, travelers, and local residents. Jarvie figured it would be an excellent spot to establish a business. At its height, the Jarvie ranch operation included a store, post office, river ferry, and cemetery.

John Jarvie, a Scotsman, settled in Browns Park in 1880. Upon his arrival he opened a general store-trading post and became the postmaster of Browns Park. A year later, he added ferry operator to his responsibilities. Jarvie, an astute businessman, also had mining and livestock interests in the area.

Jarvie was an educated man and liked by all residents of Browns Park. He was much in demand at social functions because of his musical talents on the organ and concertina.

Jarvie was also acquainted with some of the more colorful characters in Browns Park history, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, of the Wild Bunch, outlaws Matt Warner and Isom Dart, and Ann Bassett, Queen of the Rustlers.

On Tuesday, July 6, 1909, Jarvie was robbed, murdered, and his store ransacked by two transient workers from Rock Springs, Wyoming. His body was placed in a boat and pushed out into the Green River. It was not discovered until eight days later, just above the Gates of Ladore in the eastern end of browns Park. He is buried in the Ladore Cemetery. His murders were never captured.

Following Jarvie's murder in 1909, the property passed to his two sons Tom and John Jr. Unfortunately, his sons' interests lay elsewhere, and the ranch property would never again flourish as it had under the senior Jarvie's enterprising stewardship.

In 1924, the ranch was sold to Charlie Sparks, then in 1934 to Frank E. Jerkins, and again in 1942 to William Allen. Duward and Ester Campbell acquired to property in 1968 and were the last private owners of the property Ester, well-known as the "school marm" that taught in the area's one-room schoolhouse, became a local institution, much loved by the hundreds of visitors who yearly made pilgrimages to the Jarvie Ranch.

Anxious to see the ranch preserved and restored to his historic character, Mrs. Campbell sold her 35-acre ranch to the Nature Conservancy in 1982. They, in turn, leased the site to the BLM until sufficient funds were found for purchase of the property, forever placing the Jarvie ranch in public ownership. This was the Conservancy's first Utah project.


   

  

Points of Interest

Four original structures, each over 100 years old, still exist:

The stone house is a one-room, rectangular building, measuring 18x20 feet. It was built by outlaw Jack Bennett, using masonry skills he learned in prison.

The two-room dugout located on the southwestern end of the property is where John and his wife Nellie first lived. It is build into a hillside with a south-facing entrance overlooking the Green River.

The blacksmith shop and corral were constructed using hand-hewn railroad ties which drifted down from Green River, Wyoming, during high water.

The general store is a replica of the original which was built in 1881. It is furnished with many artifacts from the Jarvie period and also contains the original safe which was robbed the evening of Jarvie's murder.

Another point of interest is the graves of four men who died violent deaths in the early days of Browns Park--two drowned, one was stabbed, and one was shot.

Visitor Information

River Safety--The Green River can fluctuate daily form 830 to 4500 cubic feet per second or higher, depending on the time of year. Life jackets are required for boaters on the river.

Camping/Picnicking--Indian Crossing and bridge Hollow developed (fee) campgrounds, adjacent to the Jarvie site, include picnic table, fire rings. Day-use facilities at the Jarvie site include picnic tables, fire rings, drinking water, and restrooms. Pets must be on a leash at the site.

Permits--Permits are required for commercial float boating only. No permits are required for personal use from the Flaming Gorge Dam to the Dinosaur National Monument at Ladore Canyon in Colorado.

Fishing--Fishing is limited to artificial bait only. All fish between 13 and 20 inches must be released. You may keep two fish under 13 inches and one fish over 20 inches.

Telephone--A credit card/collect-call-only telephone is located at the Bridge Hollow boat ramp.

Accommodations/Supplies--Gas, food, and lodging can be obtained in the towns of Green River and Rock Springs, Wyoming; Maybell, Colorado; and Vernal, Manila, and Dutch John in Utah. Gasoline, food, and phone services are available at the Browns Park Store in Colorado. Extra gas should be carried. Other equipment, such as tire chains, food, water, and a shovel, are recommended.

Tours--Guided tours of the Jarvie property are offered daily May through October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

How To Get There

From Maybell Colorado: All-season pavement to the Utah-Colorado border, then 8 miles of maintained gravel road.

From Vernal, Utah (via Clay Basin): North on Highway 191 for 55 miles to the Wyoming-Utah border, then east 22 miles on maintained gravel road which includes 2 miles down Jesse Ewing Canyon with grades approaching 17 percent.

From Vernal, Utah (via Crouse Canyon): North on Vernal Avenue to Fifth North, then east 25 miles to the Diamond Mountain and Browns Park signed turnoff. Then 16 miles north on an infrequently maintained dirt road to Browns Park. Follow signs to the Jarvie Ranch. Call ahead for road conditions if weather is a question.

 

For Additional Information Contact:

Park Ranger at Historic Site (435) 885-3307

Bureau of Land Management
Vernal Office
170 South 500 East
Vernal, Utah 84078
(435) 781-4400

 

For more information visit the Utah Bureau of Land Management website