Established in 1875, Sierra Sky Ranch Resort was the first working cattle ranch in the area; in 1946 it was converted to a guest facility. In the old days the ranch supplied food for the logging camps at Sugar Pine and Soquel. Since then tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world have enjoyed its simple, laid back atmosphere in an environment of natural beauty.
We are not in the middle of town and can offer your group a truly unique lodging experience. Enjoy this beautiful more than 100-year-old converted mountain ranch that is nestled among towering oaks and pines. A wide veranda beckons you to sit outside, relax and soak in the scenic beauty of the area.
Inside the Ranch is a spacious great room with beamed ceilings, two stone fireplaces, knotty pine walls, lovely vintage western furniture and a grand piano. At the end of the hall of our main house is a peaceful Library where guests come to read, relax, or play a hand of cards.
We are a smaller, more personalized hotel, with an assortment of Single Queen Bed Rooms and Double Queen Bed Rooms making up our 26 rooms. All, but three rooms open out with double doors onto the veranda. Each room has a private bath, cable television, and individually controlled heating & air conditioning. There are no telephones in the rooms; however, we do offer free wireless Internet.
Historical Background of the Sierra Sky Ranch
Archeological evidence indicates that Native Americans lived on the Sierra Sky Ranch. The natives were most likely from the Milwok or Pohonichi tribes. Today, many of their grinding holes can still be found in the granite rock along Lewis Creek. Obsidian chips left over from making arrowheads are prevalent, and numerous arrowheads have been found on the ranch property.
The first recorded settler on the property was William Gash in 1881. It appears that he owned all of Section 25 in Township 6 South, Range 21 East, Mount Diablo Base Meridian. Mr. Gash sold the property to Henry J. Castor in 1891. Early records refer to the Castor Ranch as being one of the best locations on Lewis Creek, with fine pasture and meadowland, dotted with magnificent old oak trees. During this period the ranch included a slaughterhouse, and supplied food to the logging camps at Sugarpine and Soquel.
In 1917, George Batterson purchased the property and continued to use it as a cattle ranch. During this time the property was referred to as the Batterson Ranch, and the local Forest Service station, Batterson Station, retains the name. From 1936 to 1939 the pastureland was rented to James Fullmer for summer range. Lester Bissett recalled working on building Highway 42 from the Westfall Ranger Station to the Batterson Ranch in 1928 to 1930. Highway 41 was completed in 1933 giving easy access to the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. Prior to that time, there was a logging road that followed the approximate route of Highway 41, and paralleled the fifty-four mile lumber flume from the Sugarpine sawmill to the town of Madera. The flume route crossed the Batterson Ranch property, and a short section of the old flume is still standing.
Before World War Two the ranch house was used for convalescing tuberculosis patients. During the war it was used as a Rest and Recreation (R&R) Center for American servicemen. In 1946 the ranch was converted to a guest facility, and the name was changed to the Sierra Sky Ranch. From 1946 to 1971 Sierra Sky Ranch was owned and operated by Don and Marian Ely. The ranch consisted of over 400 acres at that time. The pastureland was converted to a golf course in about 1950.
A portion of the Sierra Sky Ranch Lodge was built at the turn of the century. The main reception area was most likely the oldest part of the structure, and was the original ranch house. It is built of heavy timbers and pine wood paneling; stone fireplaces built of native rock are located on the east and west walls of the reception area. The structure has had several additions including a dining hall and lodging rooms. The dining hall was added to the east of the reception area, and lodging rooms to the west and south. The west wing includes a long, open veranda. The rooms added to the south are connected to the main structure by a breezeway. Estimates of when portions of the lodge were constructed are: Main reception room, about 1900 (confirmed by Ralph Bissett); west lodging rooms, about 1920; the present dining area, prior to 1946; south lodging rooms prior to 1950. Mr. Ralph Bissett remembers that there was a separate kitchen and dining area to the east of the main ranch house.