In 2001, Hester Grimm Patrick bequeathed the historic Patrick Ranch, its grand home and the surrounding acreage to the long established and esteemed Chico Museum. The acceptance of this magnificent gift with its unique challenges and its own focus caused the Chico Museum Board to restructure their organization. It was at that time that the Far West Heritage Association was created as the umbrella organization for the Chico Museum and the newly acquired Patrick Ranch.
The Far West Heritage Association tells the history of the Far West through individual stories of ordinary people and their extraordinary experiences. The Chico Museum showcases the unique identity of a city formed by generations of area residents including their traditional values, ability to take risks and their dedication to the future. The Patrick Ranch preserves and interprets agricultural history of the Sacramento Valley, including social, cultural and economic aspects.
The Far West Heritage Association is a vital organization that invites all individuals interested in immersing themselves in historical research, doing oral interviews, cataloguing artifacts, working on historic landscaping or volunteering for specific events to join us! Individuals can select the level and frequency of their volunteer hours. More information can be obtained by contacting Anne Seiler, FWHA Collection Manager and Volunteer Coordinator at 530-342-1519. Additional information can be found on the FWHA web site at farwestheritage.org.
Hester Patrick’s gift of the ranch that she and her husband Garrison loved and treasured presents a unique opportunity for research. It challenges staff, board members and volunteers alike to create a living agriculture museum that will showcase the evolution of agriculture in the Sacramento Valley, of California, indeed of the Far West and the world!
10381 MIDWAY, DURHAM The Patrick Ranch once boasted some 600 acres stretching from Hegan Lane south toward Durham. During a century and a half of private ownership, the size of the ranch fluctuated through land purchases, marriages and deaths until it was reduced to the 28 acres that surround the home today.
The house and its surrounding acreage were bequeathed to the Chico Museum by the last ranch owner, Hester Grimm Patrick, in 2001. Hester, a museum founder, championed the promotion, documentation, preservation and appreciation of history for her entire life. As per her wishes, The Far West Heritage Association, the umbrella organization for the Chico Museum and the Patrick Ranch Museum, has established the goal of the Patrick Ranch “to preserve and interpret agricultural history of the Sacramento Valley, including social, cultural and economic aspects”.
The immediate priorities of the FWHA for the Patrick Ranch Museum are two-fold: to restore the historic home to earlier times, when it was at the peak of its grandeur, social activity and influence, and to research every aspect of local agriculture with the goal of collecting the agriculture artifacts most pertinent to the evolution of each crop. It is the goal of the FWHA Board to open the fields, barns, breathtakingly beautiful yard, and the home as an agriculture museum. The house will be restored to its early grandeur to be representative of the residences on similar larger acreage of the time. The lives of other ranchers like Burdick, Troxel, Morehead, and Durham, of similar backgrounds, socio-economic stature, and farming expertise, will be brought into focus.
The lifelong connection of local early settlers who first worked for General John Sutter and who were connected in some way to the Patrick Ranch, will chronicle earliest agriculture in the Sacramento Valley. Local men of interest who were once employed by Sutter include William Northgraves, who originally owned the acreage now known as the Patrick Ranch; early Durham land grant recipient and resident, Samuel Neal, a blacksmith who came west with General John Fremont to Sutter’s Fort; and General John Bidwell who originally worked for Sutter and discovered gold with William Northgraves at Bidwell Bar. It was the agricultural ingenuity of men like these that planted the seeds of present day agricultural practices.
The ranch was located at the confluence of the old Oroville-Chico stagecoach road and the Northern Electric Railroad line which brought electricity to the Sacramento Valley in 1906 and to the ranch in 1913. It was at the hub of activity for transportation and commerce for all the little twns that sprang up along the California and Oregon Railroad, completed to Chico on July 4, 1870. The C & O Railroad tracks were laid about a mile west of the ranch house. It was the catalyst for the establishment of small towns like Durham, Nelson, and Richvale to the south and Los Molinos to the north. Glenwood* residents, people who lived on the property we now refer to as the “Patrick Ranch Museum,” could sit on the wraparound porch and keep their fingers on the pulse of the north valley! A chronological listing of the individuals who owned the ranch and lived on the property or in the grand home is as follows: William Northgraves, C.M Bryant family, Adam and Bee Patrick Compton, and finally, Garrison and Hester Patrick.
* (Glenwood – The name given to the house and yard by its earliest residents.)
The men and women who lived at the ranch and worked the Patrick Ranch acreage are representative of the aforementioned pioneer farmers who settled in the Chico/Durham area in the 1850s, 60s, and 70s. The stories of the evolution of transportation (Sacramento River, railroads and improved roads), agricultural crops, growth of towns, and the movement from gold mining to farming in the Sacramento Valley, can be told through these men and their families whose lives were so closely intertwined.
It is the goal of the Far West Heritage Association to have the ranch open to the public on a regular basis. Open now only for special events, the ranch and its magnificent home are always open the weekend before Father’s Day for the ” Old Time Country Faire and Threshing Bee”. This is a not to be missed community event that invites thousands of visitors to view the process of moving the wheat from stalk to table in a matter of minutes. Turn of the century tractors and magnificent draft horses used to harvest, thresh and grind the wheat take visitors back a century in time to understand and appreciate the evolution of agriculture. The entire family is kept busy with pony rides, a petting zoo, biscuit making, churning butter, watermelon and pie eating contests, pedal tractors, sandbox play, live music, and a wonderful artisan faire. Tours of the home and a wonderful food court on the lawn allow visitors to pause and enjoy the ambiance of the ranch.
The Patrick Ranch is also open to designated significant community events and will soon be open for multiple family celebrations. Watch the newspaper and the association newsletter for more information. The FWHA telephone number is (530) 892-1525. A remarkable quilt show will be on display in the house that has been readied for renovation. The furniture has been moved to storage and the carpet has been taken up. Viewing the house without its magnificent furniture, books, glassware and pictures makes a striking difference! One is struck with the realization that it is a wonderful FARMHOUSE!
Anyone interested in history, research, cataloguing, or just working with people who love volunteer work, is invited to join the Far West Heritage Association, steward of the Chico Museum and the Patrick Ranch Museum. Everyone is welcome, the “work” is satisfying, and the developed friendships are to be treasured!
The ranch, while open to the public for scheduled events, and private event bookings, is currently undergoing a massive re-development strategy. Our master plan includes new buildings for Visitor Centers and more.
Download the Master Plan and read about the ongoing and proposed development. There’s also the Painters Report. Part 1 and Part 2.