October 13, 2010

Ruple Tree

The Ruple Ranch, now part of Dinosaur National Monument, was homesteaded by Hank and May Ruple back in 1882.  Although the original house burned in 1960, some of the outbuildings and old wooden corrals remain.  It was a cattle ranch and later a sheep ranch held by the Ruple family until 1945.  Sometime after that, the monument acquired the property.
The homestead included Island Park, an island in the middle of the Green River. Island Park was named by the John Wesley Powell Expedition in 1869. (This expedition floated down the Green River to the Colorado and through the Grand Canyon, exploring the many side canyons along the way.) The Powell expedition saw deer and antelope grazing in the scenic Island Park.  
In 1825, William Ashley, a trader on a scouting trip for the first mountain man rendevouz, traveled down the Green and hunted buffalo and elk in this same area. The buffalo are long gone, but the deer, elk and antelope still roam.  
A Fremont Cottonwood near the old Ruple Ranch home site has been touted as the oldest tree of its species in Utah.  We took this photo of the old tree in 2002:
One large limb had fallen, but the tree was otherwise intact.  The picture was taken before the cottonwoods leafed out in the spring.  We revisited the site this past weekend, and found that the grand old matriarch (patriarch?) is still alive, but nearly all of the branches have fallen:
This tree may have been a sapling back in 1825.  It's seen a lot of history pass under its branches. 


  1. Hi Diane, Thanks for taking us to see some of the Dinosaur National Monument area.... I'd love to read more about the Ruple's... Bet they were hard-working people.

    Island Park looks like a neat place... Wouldn't it be neat to have a cabin on that island???? We could share it with the deer, elk and antelope!!!!! ha

    AND---I love that old tree. Glad you got a good picture in 2002... There's not much left now...

    Thanks for such an interesting post... I loved it.

  2. What a stunning view of that river. And what a huge tree. You are always full of all kinds of interesting information.

  3. Thanks for a little bit of history and great photos.

    I love that old tree but it doesn't look like it is long for this world.

  4. Ah! How interesting and your neat post rang a chime for me. Some years ago my brother & I decided to take a more southernly route home to Minn. after flyfishing Yellowstone and the Tetons. We briefly fished the Green and then hurrying home flew past Dinosauer National Park. Darn! I will go back as I also remember thinking what beautiful country the mountains in Northern Utah were....

  5. The diversity of landscape is gorgeous!

  6. Love the old ranch and it's kinda nice to see what's left of it preserved in a park. Yet sad to see the old tree. It was so majestic looking only 8 years ago.

  7. Janie, the tree looks so sad now. Do you think it will keep on living and perhaps grow some new 'grand' limbs?
    Great post!

  8. Thanks for sharing this beautiful place and it's history with us. Do you think that cottonwood tree will last for another 185 years?

  9. You tell such a wonderful story of the history of the beautiful Ruple Ranch, Janie.

  10. So glad to see this page, I camped at the Big Tree in 1984. I have photos of the cabin in much better shape and also of the grand tree. We had a visit while there from a man who ranched the property in 1945 and received a great history lesson.
    So sad to see the grand old site as it is today...



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