Rock Fences


                                                                   Rock Fences



                                                                     Skeet Gould 


There are, or were, a few rock fences in the Superstition Mountains on Tex Barkley’s old ranch. The story I heard and what Mr. Barkley said was he worked alone most of the time. So Tex built short rock fences across some trails and he would leave a gap where he needed a gate and when he wanted the trail blocked he used some Mesquite brush to plug the hole. Tex would leave one trail open if he wanted to take some cattle to a different place. A lot of that country is bluffed up, with only a few trails on and off places.

That is about the only place I ever saw rock fences. I seen a few rock corrals, such as off in Scott’s Basin on the Yolo. But, in northern California there are literally miles of rock fence, or as some say, rock walls. These can be miles long. Dusty said one stretch on Dye Creek is seven miles long although there are quite a few shorter stretches one to two miles of that fence total just on Dye Creek. Some of that fence kept cattle off the Valley floor. Some of it is not on property lines, but ran in the middle of the ranch.

Maintaining the fence is a chore. I heard fellers who had a little get knocked down say it is hard work to get the rocks back in the right place.  All of this fence was built by Chinese labor.  It was a hard life. 

I heard a story about a feller, who I think was named Cotton, trailing a bunch of cattle off the mountain going to Dye Creek headquarters. Cotton was on a bronco ole colt and riding him in a hackamore. There had been a a hard circle made and both Cotton and his bronc were tired. They were real close to the fence, just trailing along behind their herd when a big, old rattlesnake struck at them. The snake hit Cotton’s chinks and hung a fang in them. It woke both Cotton and his mount up. Cotton jerked away from the snake, stuck a spur in Mr. Bronc, who belle red and blew up. It was a hell of a bronc ride. It scattered cattle and caused a wreck, but Cotton got him rode and the snake bucked off.

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