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Within A Wolf's Cry

Mini-Yellowstone Offers All the Nature Without the Crowds

(page 2 of 3)

Another woman, who stopped by the ranch last summer, told lodge manager Sandra Beckwith how she and her mother accompanied her father to the work site.

The family lived in a tent while the father, uncle, and grandfather worked on the building for three months until heavy snows forced them to move south for the winter.

They were back as soon as the sun started warming the valley in the spring, and by the following summer they had constructed a majestic 8,000-square-foot log lodge in the folds of the sagebrush-covered hills.

The lodge even boasted electricity—long before the rest of the Sawtooth Valley would get electricity—thanks to a hydroelectric plant that workers built in a log cabin at a willowed bend in the pond.

“We had lights when nobody else did,” recalls Rozalys Bogert-Smith, whose family owned the ranch for 54 years from 1951 to 2005. “I remember one time a guest plugged a plastic radio in and the direct current was so powerful it melted the radio.”

When it opened 75 years ago, the Idaho Rocky Mountain Club was an invitation-only guest facility—a private hunting club.

Mesmerized by the wide-open spaces and the wildlife that frequented the ranch, an Austrian clothing manufacturer named Josef Lanz bought the ranch from Paul a few years after it was built. But he was forced to close the guest ranch operation with the outbreak of World War II, when he and his money became trapped in Europe.

A Pocatello automobile dealer named Edmund A. Bogert purchased the ranch in 1951, renaming it the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch.

Bogert became the first rancher in the Sawtooth Valley to put up hay, earning the 1958 Custer County Grassman of the Year Award in the process.

He built a prize-winning Rokmor purebred Hereford herd, drilling for hot water so the cattle could graze 20 acres of pasture even when temperatures dipped to 58 below in the winter.

Bogert also decided to reopen the ranch for guests, even though it had been closed to the public for years.

He brought in Floris Neustaedter to sew tablecloths, valances, and comforters for the lodge. And he named his daughter, Rozalys, then a 26-year-old Pocatello schoolteacher, to run the guest operations.

“I knew nothing, so I had to learn quickly,” she says. “The toughest part was running the kitchen because we couldn’t just run down to the corner store and pick up something, especially given the switchback gravel road over Galena in those days.

“Mom and Dad would bring supplies from Pocatello once a week, and if we ran out of something, we had to improvise. We became well-known for our homemade soups.

We also got quite good at using leftovers to make some unique dishes.”

The ranch’s first chef, whom she remembers only as “Joe,” had been a cook at a mining camp. He wowed the guests with homemade cottage cheese and butter.

The guests also seemed amused by the fact that they had to carry in their own luggage since there was no bellhop.

Rozalys quit after four years to get married, and her parents curtailed their guest operation after she left.

For the next 20 years or so, the lodge became a gathering place for friends and relatives, as the Bogerts entertained invited guests every summer when they returned to Idaho from their travels around the world.

Ruth Bogert hired a couple of girls to do the laundry, while she cooked family-style meals for up to 20 people at a time.

“They were wonderful hosts,” recalls Betty Rember, whose late husband served as a fishing guide for ranch guests. “They were very welcoming—always made you feel at ease. And they had lots of interesting guests.”

After her father died, Rozalys bought out her brothers and re-opened the ranch as a guest lodge in 1977. She sold it to the current owners in February, 2005.

The traffic running past the ranch on Highway 75 is heavier today than it was when Paul built the ranch 76 years ago. And it’s faster, too, as motorists zoom by at 65 miles per hour in search of a fishing spot at a nearby lake, or a trailhead for a mountain bike ride.

But nearby Stanley, a town of 70 named for a prospector who passed through in 1863, remains a town of unpaved roads and log cabins.

And the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch, nearly invisible from the highway that bisects the property, remains a relic of Depression-era America—a distinction that has earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places. >>>

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