Coffee Creek Ranch History
Coffee Creek Ranch is rich in beauty as it is in history. This ranch was originally three claims staked out in 1877 by Old Charley Henseley who lost them in a poker game in 1900 to Ben Pinkham for 1 dollar. Ben grew vegetables for the miners, but he realized that the miners needed a winter home closer to their mines, so he established Pinkham’s Boarding House, a seventeen-room hotel built on 160 acres. Ben’s wife, Elizabeth, established the Pinkham School District in 1903. The original school bell dated 1890 still rings you to lunch and dinner! From 1903 to 1912, “Coffee”, California, was the official post office of the area.
Gradually the hotel became popular with city folk. In 1928, when Viva and Raymond Tapie bought the hotel from Viva’s mother, Elizabeth Pinkham, they changed the name to Coffee Creek Chalet. They sold it in 1940. Two owners later, the Neubauers bought it, changing the name to Coffee Creek Ranch in 1946.
The Neubauers started a Boys Club at the ranch which happened every summer till about 1954. The first six weeks of summer was for them and next six were for families. They continued to run it as a guest ranch resort till they sold it to relatives, the Jordans and Zarbacks in 1965. Easter Sunday, 1966, the original ranch house burned to the ground in 15 minutes. A 30-day wonder, it was rebuilt and ready for the first guests June 15th. The first guests that summer threw a champagne party of terrazzo chips for the new dining room floor. The dance floor is the only part still left of the original floor.
The oldest building, “Oak Grove Cottage” (1889) stood across the creek in the pasture by the steak fry until yearly snows took its toll, hopefully someday we can rebuilt it. The present owners, Mark & Ruth Hartman, purchased the ranch in 1976. We are still managing it with the help of our son, Bill and his family…plus our great ranch staff!