The History of Duquette Pines

by Loyal Willis

In the late '60s, Loyal and Barbara Willis of Winnemucca, NV became involved in two Idaho backcountry "fly in" ranches, The Flying B and The Root Ranch, located in what was then the Idaho Primitive Area, which later evolved into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area.

Loyal became deeply involved in the Flying Resort Ranches, Inc., and as a board member and President made many airplane trips from Winnemucca to the two ranches located on the Middle Fork of the Salmon and in the Chamberlin Basin. Lying directly under his flight path just northeast of Idaho City was this beautiful mountain meadow with dilapidated old barn and house surrounded by timber. The Willises knew that their days in the construction business in Winnemucca were numbered due to the fact that the Nevada State Highway Department had condemned their house, office, shop and equipment yard for the construction of an access ramp to Interstate 80.
Consequently the Willises were looking around for some place to settle and decided to investigate the possibility of acquiring this old ranch. Loyal contacted a Boise realtor and asked him to inquire into the availability of the old ranch northeast of Idaho City. He reported back that the property belonged to a snow mobile club and was not for sale. He also stated that he had visited the property with a Forest Service employee "who knows you," but had forgotten his name. Loyal contacted the Forest Service ranger in Winnemucca and asked him who in the Idaho City Forest Service office would be likely to know him. His response was "Glen Bradley, you guys built the Angel Lake road for the Forest Service when Glen was the ranger in Elko, Nevada."
  On his next trip to the Flying B, Loyal landed at the Idaho city airstrip and contacted Glen and asked him what he knew about the old ranch up on the ridge and its owners. Glen responded that the "snowmobile club was a squatter" and that the owners were Mr. and Mrs. Charles House of Boise and that he thought that the ranch might be available. With Loyal's next visit to Idaho City, he borrowed a saddle horse from Glen and armed with a Forest Service map and a Brunton compass proceeded to rough out the boundaries of the ranch.
When he returned he told Barbara "if we are able to buy this place, I know where we are going to build our house." And that is where their house stands today.

Charles and Emma House were approached and eventually a deal was made. At the time Charles House (an MK employee) was working in Guatemala so most of the negotiations were done with his wife Emma. About this time, the Willises realized that they would need some financial help and some expertise in developing property. Clarence and Dorothy Reinhart (Flying B friends) were approached and a partnership was formed which eventually evolved into Duquette Pines, Inc.

As new owners, they began looking around for a suitable name for their proposed development. They found that the ranch had most recently been known as the "Miller Ranch" and earlier as the "Mann Ranch" and the "Hall Place." None of which seemed like appropriate names for the planned development. Further inquiries turned up the name "Duquette"from some of the older residents of the Idaho City area. This sounded intriguing and as more research was done they turned up the following history.

Olivier A. Duquette was a French Canadian who immigrated to the mining camps of Nevada during the Civil War. He soon learned that the miners were not the ones who got rich in the mining camps but rather the merchants, who supplied the miners with the necessities of life, i.e., food clothing, whiskey and women.

When the Idaho city mines boomed, Oliver moved to the area and homesteaded a ranch to supply the miners with beef, vegetables and fruit. He received a patent on 160 acres issued on June 10, 1879 written in long hand and signed by President Rutherford B. Hayes. It took a minimum of five years from filing to "prove up"on a homestead so Oliver and his wife Mary probably arrived in Idaho some time in the early 1870s. Their homestead comprised the north portion of the property plus 40 acres, which they bought from a railroad grant. Joseph Duquette homesteaded 120 acres adjoining his parents on the south and received his patent in 1922. In 1921 Louis W. Mann received his patent on 160 acres comprising the southern portion of the ranch. In 1929, the Hall family purchased the Duquette family holdings and a year later the Louis Mann 160 acres, consolidating the three homesteads into one 480-acre ranch.

An Idaho Territory History published in 1884 lists the Duquette Ranch as "the first patented homestead in the mineral lands of the Territory of Idaho." After digesting the foregoing the Willises and Reinharts decided that the name of the pioneers who carved the original ranch out of the wilderness should be perpetuated and the development called "Duquette Pines."

The "Company Ditch"which enters the ranch on its north boundary and borders the meadow on the east side was built to furnish water to the Monitor nozzles which were used to hydraulic mine the gold from Gold Hill. The water entered the ditch from Elk Creek about 10 miles north of the ranch and was flumed across several canyons on wooden flumes, which collapsed in the winter and were rebuilt in the spring (presumably by Chinese laborers). The old diversion box that sent the water down the canyon to Gold Hill is still visible near the present day corrals. This ditch also furnished sub-irrigation from the meadow and was diverted in several places to irrigate the Duquette crops. No water rights were ever filed.

The original Duquette Ranch buildings included their home, carriage house, barn and several smaller out buildings. Their original home was located in the meadow but was moved onto a new foundation at the west side of the meadow then demolished in 1998 and the lumber used in the construction of the shop now located on Hank Morillo's property at Aspen Circle. The Duquette's carriage house (located on the north east corner of Meadow and Skyline) was used for carriage and grain storage. It was remodeled into living quarters by the Reinharts and Willises, and eventually sold. In the early 1980s, it burnt to the ground but the current owners rebuilt it using the carriage house's original foundation and replicated the outside wood finish. The barn was razed in the late 70s and the timbers and lumber were used in the construction of the shop and equipment shed. The small plumbing shed (located on the corner of Skyline and Meadow) is the only remaining original Duquette Ranch building though it was moved from its original location.

The railroad was never built and the 40 acres located on the northeast corner of the ranch that was acquired from a railroad grant by the Duquettes was retained by Charles and Emma House and is now owned by their two daughters.

Duquette Pines, Division 1 plat was filed on March 3, 1971. Division 2 in March 1977 and Division 3 in November 1977. On the filing plat of the first Division, the name was misspelled "Douquette" and the error was not caught until the plat had been filed. On all subsequent filings, the name was correctly spelled. There are now approximately 50 full-time and 8 part-time resident families living in the subdivision. The owners of Duquette Pines, Inc are very proud of the character and caliber of the people who have chosen to make their homes here.