By Patricia Ullery-Whitaker, AHW board member
November 9, 2016
This story was originally published on the blog https://wildwyomingwoman.com/.
Cattle rancher and politician John B. Kendrick began construction in 1910 on a set of stone buildings on the west bank of the Powder River on land he purchased from A. J. Collins in 1902. His goal was to consolidate his other ranch holdings–the K and the OW, which stretched across the Wyoming state line into Montana, encompassing a vast empire of 210,000 acres. It was a full day’s ride from the OW in Montana to the LX Bar.
The LX Bar brand was originally owned by the Stanton-Howard Livestock Company that ran cattle along the Powder River as early as 1878. The brand passed on to Collins, and then to Kendrick, who set up a spectacular ranch headquarters that stand today as a testament to his ambition.
The Powder River can be seen in the background and carves out a wide river bed that ebbs and flows, changing course with the seasons. A long porch extends along the entire east side of the house, facing the morning sun and the river. Master stonemason Oscar Husman was hired to build the five- bedroom house, bunkhouse, main barn, processing barn, solar-heated poultry barn, and a service building used for laundry, cooking, ice storage and coal storage. All were built with eighteen-inch-thick sandstone walls and two-foot-wide foundations.
The sandstone outcroppings that rim the hill sides in the area above the river became quarries for the stone cutters, who also included the Byland brothers, the Hedeen brothers, and Richard Salstrom. During construction, Husman and his family lived at the site.
The LX Bar is located in the northern Powder River Basin of northeast Wyoming, just east of the Campbell-Sheridan county line and just south of the Montana border. Kendrick believed the county road was going to be put in along the west side of the Powder River. The road does begin on the west side and travels by the K Ranch (today’s PeeGee Ranch) and Kendrick Canal before crossing over to the east side of the river near the junction of the river and Clear Creek. Unfortunately, the rural electric lines were put in along the road and the LX Bar was never converted to electricity.
A long concrete chute steps down about 10 feet at the deepest point to immerse the cattle in a potion concocted to kill ticks and other pests. Cowboys would dunk their heads as they came through to be sure they were dipped.
This bovine swimming pool extended about 100 feet in length and it must have been quite a feat and a spectacle to immerse several hundred cattle in this manner. Where was Temple Grandin when you needed her?
Cedar posts were cut from the nearby pine ridge and are still standing strong in this corral at the processing barn 106 years later.
Since the ranch buildings and 50 acres were acquired this past summer, recent work on the ranch has included mortar replacement, chimney and wall stabilization, roof maintenance, manure removal and the “buttoning up” of various openings.
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