Barns of Roberts Ranch

Preservationists such as theHistorical Sites Society of Arcata (HSSA) are attempting to save barns from being torn down. The barns associated with the Roberts Ranch were seven in number, shown at right. The Phillips house is located at the “X”.

The Roberts Ranch was 225 acres, one mile long and one-half mile wide. Builders of the Phillips, Stokes, and the little barn, which was where the little league baseball field is now, are still unknown.

The Roberts barn (below left), with the calf pens attached on the left side, is a picture of the earlier hay barn modified to the standards of the day for an up to date milking barn. This barn was remodeled in 1900, by Isaac Beers, for the Roberts’ first commercial dairy in Arcata. Once finished it housed six horse stalls in the front, 85 milch cow stanchions, as well as 20 dry stock.

Above right is a picture of cows looking out of stanchions in another barn (just to show what a stanchion is).


The other internal parts of the barn can be seen (at right) when the barn was torn down in 1977.

The haying process in 1936, (shown below) was quite different from that of today, being that it was loose hay and not baled.

True Dolson (Hoyle)
True Dolson (Hoyle)

True Dolson with horse
True Dolson

Rush Dolson haying
Rush Dolson haying

The big Roberts barn was moved back 120 feet across the property line when the property was split between Hazel and Atlant Roberts. After the property was divided in 1935, the Mel-May barn, pictured here, was built at the bottom of the hill to accommodate the 40 odd cows that were inherited by Hazel. The small shed house, next to the big barn, housed a pump to get water from below the water table, for washing out the barn.

520 Union Street

Rush and John Dolson built this 6 cow, walk through dairy barn, to the highest standards of the day, in 1953. However, the construction of Somoa Boulevard over the Roberts Ranch made the dairy no longer useable. John Dolson had to move his dairy to the mouth of the Mad River, and Bill Moxon moved his back out to the Moxon Ranch. Thus was the demise of the dairy on this property. The sturdy concrete walls of this barn now support several apartment units at 520 Union Drive.

Dairying came full circle, as a commercial dairy, for the Roberts Ranch from 1882 to 1959. “Skip Cady”, an artist and author of Houses and Letters, created her version of the letter “Z”, when the big Roberts barn, known as the Dolson barn then, was torn down in 1977. This was published in the Arcata Union, wrapping up HSSA’s sentiments about the tearing down of the barns. It reads: “Zaying (for weapon) was Z’s Hebrew name. The sixth letter, zeta, for Greeks it became. The Romans dropped it, completely said Z was outdated but tacked it back on when Greek names were translated. Old barns, such as this, could become obsolete-(’cause small farms are finding it hard to compete). If they’re dropped, like the z, have we merely succeeded, in tearing down something that really was needed.”