Buckner Homestead Historic District

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Stehekin, WA
United States
Buckner Homestead Historic District

Landscape Information

Buzzard Farm; Buckner Orchard

READ ABOUT THE THREAT

Located along a bend of the Stehekin River, this property was originally purchased by William Buzzard in 1889. A miner, Buzzard claimed 160 acres of land, where he built a small log cabin and cleared approximately one acre of surrounding land for pasture and crop cultivation. In 1910 the ranch was sold to William Van Buckner of California, who established an intricate irrigation system that supported a 20-acre apple orchard. Over time, Buckner enlarged the homestead to include more than a dozen vernacular structures, vegetable gardens, expansive hayfields, extensive pastures, and an apple orchard that was gradually increased to 50 acres. Struggling to compete with nearby commercial orchards, Bucker’s son sold the homestead to the National Park Service in 1970.  

Situated within the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area (a unit of the North Cascades National Park complex), this 105-acre homestead is representative of early pioneer life in the Pacific Northwest. Framed by the Stehekin River to the west and south, and by Rainbow Creek to the east, the property preserves some twelve acres of orchards, including 175 of the original trees planted by Buckner, alongside pastoral land and various outbuildings. Supporting vintage Jonathan and Rome varieties, the orchard also retains the Common Delicious apple, which, despite its name, is now a rare variety. The thickly wooded site is bisected by Buckner Orchard Road, which terminates in a clearing within the orchard. Two offshoots in the form of unpaved lanes connect this central axis to the main residential complex to the northwest. The site is traversed by a 110-year-old irrigation system that continues to draw water from Rainbow Creek. A packing shed, outhouse, and a defunct swimming pool are located along the northern edge of the orchard. The remaining wooden outbuildings, including the barn, workshop, milk house, smokehouse, and cabins, are located south of the clearing. The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.