US Army Corps of Engineers
Sacramento District Website

Modernizing the nation’s infrastructure doesn’t mean forgetting the past, and such is the case with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to modernize Isabella Lake Dam in Kern County.

Corps archaeologists examined several cultural resources on a historic property during a survey of land south of the auxiliary dam construction area. The historic property is a ranch complex with some features dating back to the late 1800’s, providing remnants of early settlers in California’s southern central valley.

Explore the history below.

 

Historic Photos

Silicz Mulkey Ranch 1949
Burel Mulkey Bronco Riding
Isabella Schoolhouse
Ranch Corral
Dora Silicz
Hot Springs House c. 1900
Melvin's House
Isabella Ranch Property c. 1970
Farm Equipment
Farmhouse
Windmill c. 1970
Outbuilding
Blacksmith Shop

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Isabella Lake Dam early construction site and nearby ranch photos 1949-1954.

Prior to his ranching career in Isabella, Burel Mulkey established himself as a rodeo champion on the national stage.

The first school in the Hot Springs Valley and the township of Isabella was established in 1876.

Family members on horseback at the ranch corral, a pen used to house livestock in Isabella Lake, California.

The ranch working yard for livestock in Isabella Lake, California.

Alex and Dora Silicz married in 1910 and managed the family business in the ranching community of Isabella.

John Neill was a successful business owner and rancher in Isabella and Wagy Flat, and managed the Hot Springs House, a local hotel, restaurant and mineral spa.

Most likely constructed shortly after 1910 from wood sourced from the nearby sawmill, Melvin’s house was a residence for a variety of visitors and workers at the Ranch Complex.

The historic ranch property in Isabella Lake, California, c. 1970 and 2016.

360 degree view near the farmhouse and Melvin's house on the ranch in Isabella Lake, California, Oct. 25, 2016.

360 degree view on the west side of the property at the ranch in Isabella Lake, California, Oct. 25, 2016. 

360 degree view near the pump house on the ranch in Isabella Lake, California, Oct. 25, 2016.

360 degree view near the farm equipment on the ranch in Isabella Lake, California, Oct. 25, 2016. 

Old rusted farm equipment lies clustered in the fields on the ranch, representing different types of farming or ranching activities that took place. Artifacts include spring tooth harrows and disk plows, which would have been used to break up soil.

Built in 1949, the farmhouse is a one-story building with one bedroom, one bath, a small dining room, kitchen and living room. Dora and Alex Silicz reportedly took over operation of the family farm after their marriage in 1910

The 25 to 30 foot windmill pumped groundwater for household and agricultural uses.

Various outbuildings were used for storage, livestock, agriculture and other activities to maintain the ranch.

Various outbuildings were used for storage, livestock, agriculture and other activities to maintain the ranch.

The wood building was used for storage of saddles and tack, and there are posts and hitches on the outside for tying horses. 

Before the wood roof collapsed and weather and age took its toll, the blacksmith shop was used to repair various pieces of farm equipment, tools and metal items used around the ranch. An intact wood work bench is still visible inside the building and various rusted metal connectors and chains hang from the walls. 

A concrete imprint at the base of the garage with the cattle brands for the children of Dora and Alex Silicz.

A wood foundation near the pump house and windmill.

 

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