About Sunny M Ranch
Together we can protect important habitat and corridors for wildlife, provide for continued agricultural uses, and ensure that we maintain recreational opportunities that connect our communities and contribute to our local economy. I invite you to join us as stewards of this community asset.
The iconic Sunny M Ranch was once 4000 acres of land along Wolf Creek and Twin Lakes roads, extending to Barnsley and Big and Little Twin lakes, and stretching up the flanks of Patterson Mountain to Patterson Lake. The Sunny M name was short for "Sunny Mountain"--a nod to the prominent climate and topography of the area.
Homesteaded by Clint Shulenbarger, who ran the first herd of Jersey cows in the valley and helped build the Wolf Creek irrigation ditch, Sunny M Ranch was run as a working cattle ranch from the 1920s to the 1980s. E.F. Banker purchased the ranch in the ealry 1900s from Schulenbarger and lived on it for a few years Dr. J. B. Blende eventually bought the ranch and built the guest house, the cabins and the barns and remodeled the house. Frances and Manson Backus purchased the Sunny M Ranch from Dr. Blende in the late 1940s and operated it as a dude ranch; it became one of the first tourism activities in the valley.
Joe Barron purchased the ranch in the early 1950s, running it both as a working ranch and as a dude ranch The current ranch house was the main lodge with a string of small cabins encircling the ranch house. There was also another house that later burned, a small ranch manager's home, a bunkhouse, and a swimming pool.
The Barron family hired local boys to give horseback rides for the tourists and maintained a barn full of horses. Joe also kept several flocks of exotic and common birds on the property--prized turkeys, peacocks, and ducks--in two structures surrounding the barn. After Joe passed away, his son Jack Barron continued to maintain Sunny M as a working ranch and a private residence until his death.
Archie Eiffert worked as a ranch hand at Sunny M in the 1950s. “We were young, dashing cowboys,” said Archie. “With Swede Miller, Les Taylor, and Paul Berganholz, we’d take people on overnight and two-night trips into the Wolf Creek area and Gardner Meadows, or ride around the Sun Mountain area. City girls from Seattle thought we were terrific. We’d work all day and play all night.”
Every Sunday the Barron family held a rodeo on the Sunny M property. Folks would sit on the opposit hillside on blankets and watch the cowboys perform tricks in the field below. “Wild” cattle were supplied by any animals that got lost and wandered out of their own range onto Sunny M land. Under the pretext of bringing them to the Sunny M Ranch to alert the owners, the boys would just borrow the heifers for rodeo riding. “After all,” said Archie, “we wouldn’t want to burn calories off our own cows!”
After Jacks' death in in the late 1980s, his brother Mark Barron sold the Sunny M Ranch to friends Helga and Erivan Haub, who completed the massive upgrade begun by the Barron family, replanting the fields, restoring the irrigation systems, and installing a pivot. They wanted Methow Valley residents to take pride in the ranch and its role in the community by continuing to care for the ranch as the Barron family had before them. The Haubs’ vision for the Sunny M Ranch was a clear mandate: “preservation of the Methow environment.”
Excerpted from “The Smiling Country: A History of the Methow Valley” by Sally Portman, commissioned by Helga Haub, 2001 and from MaryAnn Barron Wagner.
We’re excited to launch Imagine the Methow: A Campaign for Sunny M Ranch. We have until June 15, 2023 to preserve these possibilities for our community. To join us and to learn more about the Campaign for Sunny M Ranch, visit methowconservancy.org/sunnym. To make a multi-year pledge, contact Executive Director Sarah Brooks to schedule a meeting: firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-996-2870. Or click here to access a pledge form.