Drinking At Ragle Springs



Yesterday, I finished reclaiming our water resources at Ragle Springs, after cementing a galvanized pipe in one of the holes of the concrete tank, constructed, I believe, by Earl Mckee and Lee Maloy who packed cement and sand by mule from the Kaweah River in the 1940s, some 2,500 feet and four miles below. The stock water pond constructed by Earl McKee, Jr. in the 1980s collected the overflow, but has been dry for several weeks and the leaky tank has been running into a quagmire where our cattle have had to drink, hock high, from cow tracks. Fortunately, they have had access to other springs and troughs elsewhere in the pasture.


When Terri and I fed last Wednesday, she asked about the yellow birds flying out of the tank that I missed seeing. But when I looked into the tank, a pair of Pine Siskins (Goldfinches in camouflage) flew off a floating board. With the board removed Saturday, the birds have had to improvise. The first and last photos are Goldfinches in winter plumage, Pine Siskins and an unknown in between, but I defer to Avian 101 or other authority to verify the identity of both species.


Whether domestic or wild, every drop counts.


In response to this link sent to Earl McKee, Jr. for verification, he sent this additional information:

Hello again John,
My father Earl A McKee Sr. started packing the material to build a series of concrete water storage tanks and troughs up into Greasy Cove in 1938, to this old “Greasy Ranch” he had purchased in 1937. At that time he had been in the mule packing business since 1910 and had quite a herd of mules and horses to pack dudes and gear into the Sierras.

Lee Maloy, Jim Kindred, Loren Finch and my Dad did the work moving all the sand material, form lumber and the sacks of cement to each site. There were 5 different sites. The first was Sulphur Spring at the old “Huntley House”. 2 more in the Sulphur Mountain pasture, Ragle Spring and one other up on the south west side of Sulphur Creek Section. The next one was built up on the Oat Ridge field’s North West corner, about a quarter mile North of the Eagle Rock. The last one was built on the East side of Section 9. This watershed was Manikin Creek falling off to the North Fork of the Kaweah River.

When packing the material, sand was the biggest item, because of the volume needed. And because my Dad owned the numbers of mules and outfits, he would use about 20 to 25 head of mules each trip. Most of these spring improvement jobs would load up the mules in a sand bar at Belle Point above Terminus Beach on the Kaweah River. And used the old Greasy Creek to Manikin Flat wagon Road that passed by Spoon Rock.

An interesting side of loading each mule with sand was, as the mules were saddled, first came the mule blanket and pad. Next came a mantie that covered the mule’s body, then came the pack saddle and after he was cinched up the kayaks or rag ends or leather ends were hung on the saddle with card board or wood boxes inside. The mule was then led down into the sand bar and a man on each side tossed sand into the boxes while counting the shovel loads to balance the load till it weighed about 90 lbs. on each side and was tied off and turned loose to wait till they were all loaded. As you can imagine the mantie being placed above the mule blankets allowed for misjudged shovel loads of sand could roll off the mule without getting sand under the saddle blanket and keep it from sore backing the mule.

As the form lumber was packed in, a mortar box with handles on each end and tapered ends to pour, was packed on top of one of the loads to mix the concrete with shovels and a hoe and water buckets. The spring box on the east side of Section 9 was packed in from a sand bar at Ken (Skinny) Savages Ranch on the North Fork of the Kaweah River. And packed by trail up through the Old Craig Thorn Sr. Ranch.

The date of each of these should still have the date of completion marked in the concrete with the three brands of the three registered brands at that time. The year, 1938 the brands were LEE (Lee Maloy); T Triangle (Jim Kindred): Bar O (Earl McKee Sr).

This is about the way it all happened, a long time ago.

All The Best, Earl

2 responses to “Drinking At Ragle Springs

  1. Interesting bit of history….The things about the American West one doesn’t learn in textbooks.


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