THE HISTORY OF BENCH CREEK RANCH
During the early 1900’s, when the mining town of Wonder was booming, Mr. Stephen filed on Bench Creek Ranch as a homestead. Water from the Bench Creek Ranch was allotted to the ranch as well as to the town of Wonder. A pipeline which took water from Bench Creek 5.46 miles to Wonder was also used to water Bench Creek Ranch cattle along the way. As part of the original agreement with the mining community, the ranch was required to always provide a team of horses and a Fresno scraper to repair the road from the ranch to the reservoir that supplied the water to the pipeline.
After the marriage of Steven’s daughter to Louis Danberg, over 100 acres alfalfa were planted and irrigated with Bench Creek water by the new owners. Deer and other wildlife were drawn to the ranch by the alfalfa that was grown to provide winter feed for the Bench Creek Ranch cattle. A horse trap was built where the pipeline crossed the bottom of Bench Creek Valley and wild horses were caught for use on the ranch and to sell to control the wild horse population and improve the resources. Some time after the Danbergs sold Bench Creek Ranch to Bill and Inger Casey, a flash flood ruined the pipe lines and the alfalfa fields. The Bench Creek home had already burned to the ground.
By the time the ranch was purchased by Michael P. Casey, the old Bench Creek Ranch homestead was in shambles and much of the wood had been used to build the Middle Gate Station Bar and Restaurant at the sight of the historic Middle Gate overland stage stop. The Dixie Valley portion of the ranch was originally developed by Michael P. Casey when he purchased grazing rights from seven smaller outfits including Hoarce Creek, Howard Turleys, Harold Fitz’s, C.B. Stark’s Frenchman’s Flat, Cow Canyon, and Bill Spencer’s Camp Creek, and Wonder ranges. Michael A. Casey ran Bench Creek Ranch until it was sold to Pat Dempsey. The ranch was then purchased by its current owners, Paul Plouviez and Shizuko Shimada, who expanded the ranch with the addition of Frenchman’s Flat and La Plata in the Stillwater Mountains.