Gathering Place book cover
mill pond full of logs
Elderly Native American man holding a jacket

Long before it became known as the Gordon Ranch, this natural prairie in the Swan River Valley has been a gathering place. From the Pend d’Oreille people gathering to dig camas, to the Hollands bringing hunters together for a pack trip, to the mapmakers and surveyors gathering to resupply and camp, to Dr. Gordon and family coming to celebrate the newly constructed lodge, the Gordon Ranch has provided many hardy souls with shelter, companionship and sustenance. 

Inside this volume the reader will gain a broader understanding of the natural, cultural and historical aspects of the region as well as discover the oftentimes amusing and downright astounding tales about authentic western ranch experiences of the owners, caretakers, and ranch hands. From branding, to fencing, to haying, to horse-driving, to outfitting, the record of their experiences gives us a sense of who we are and how the landscape shapes us.

The Gathering Place: Swan Valley’s Gordon Ranch encapsulates the rich history of the upper Swan Valley. It is a source of carefully researched information prepared with genuine respect for the land and its people.

Honor song during Swan massacre commemoration, Holland Lake, October 2008. CSKT and Montana representatives 
at podium in background. CSKT photo.

John Peter Paul (1909-2001) at Epɫ Timuʔ, 
at the site of the Swan Massacre. In the 1940s, a small irrigation dam was built that flooded the site.

Haying at the Gordon Ranch. Mat Green driving the hay wagon. Koessler Collection. USVHS and SVC Archives.

Sheila Koessler by the garden on the Gordon Ranch. Koessler Collection. USVHS and SVC Archives.

Shorty & Barbara Koessler. 1986. Fred Green Collection. USVHS Collection.

Man at river
Historical photo of log building
Woman in garden

Tribal men at July celebration, 1906. Atwen (Antoine) Scwí, the leader of the party, is standing second from left, and in inset at far left. Little Camille Paul is seated at the drum, second from left, and in inset, near left). Isitó Čeɫl Spwá (Three Pileated Woodpeckers), who was invited but could not join the group, is eighth from left.

Mike Holmes getting ready to go hunting in the Bob. 1993

Dr. Gordon house in Swan River, pergola on left. Waldbillig Collection. USVHS and SVC Archives.

Cowboy standing next to horse

Shorty Koessler 1985 Fred Green Collection. USVHS Archives.

group of Native American in traditional dress in front of tipis
Historical photo of man and woman in front of log building

Val Hopkins, age 16. 1956. Gordon Ranch. Hopkins Collection. USVHS Archives.

elderly man

Gordon Ranch. Dr. Gordon on left. Margaret MacDonald photo. 1905. Koessler Collection. USVHS and SVC Archives.

cows in field

Cattle on the Gordon Ranch. 1977. Larry Parker Collection. USVHS Archives.

Historical photo of woman in 1908

Ethel Lynn Waldbillig. 1908. Gordon Ranch. Waldbillig Collection. USVHS and SVC Archives.

Shorty Koessler and Hank Holmes. Winter of 1924-1925. Koessler Collection. USVHS and SVC Archives..

Native American woman on horseback

Ben Holland Ranch. 1899.
​USGS photo. USVHS Archives.

Group at commemoration ceremony, lake scenery
elderly man

Clarice Paul.

Horses pulling a hay wagon
Man on horseback
Upper Swan Valley Historical Society
Historical photo of man
Man and woman with toddler

Shorty Koessler. 1924. Koessler Collection. USVHS and SVC Archives.

Margaret Macdonald. 1897. Koessler Collection. USVHS Archives.

Historical photo of ranch

Junius-Benedict (far-left), USFS Field Crew, circa 1908. USFS photo. USVHS and SVC Archives.

Charles Peyton.

Bud, Dick, and Lena Wolff. 1946. Wolff Collection. USVHS Archives.

winter scene, men on horseback with mule train
people in front of fire, snowmobiles in foreground

Necklace Lakes hunting camp, Frank Jette in front.October 5, 1977. Larry Parker Collection. USVHS Archives.

The Gathering Place: Swan Valley's Gordon Ranch now available for purchase! For details visit Projects.

Historical photo, three men, winter

Wineglass Mill Pond full of logs. Koessler Collection.USVHS Archives.

Man with horses wearing packs

Jim Koessler. 2004. Fred Green Collection. USVHS-Archives.

Swan and Clearwater Valleys map

Karl K. Koessler. Mid 1920s. Koessler Collection. USVHS and SVC Archives.

couple on front porch

Snowmobile gathering at Gordon-Ranch. Koessler Collection. USVHS Archives.

Two cowboys seated in front of porch

Bud Wolff with Babe the Blue Ox at the Gordon Ranch. Koessler Collection. USVHS and SVC Archives.

Book Cover image and map by Sharon Lamar

Family with dog
Historical photo, man and two women
elderly man fishing, wearing sunglasses
cowboy with mule
Historical photo of young woman

Sue & Mike Holmes.2007

Jim,Sheila,Tony,and Shorty Koessler with dog Griffy. 1947 or 48. Koessler Collection. USVHS and SVC Archives.

Tony Koessler. Circa 2001. Fred Green Collection. USVHS Archives.

The Gathering Place: Swan Valley's Gordon Ranch

Man with cow
young cowboy

Benjamin B. Holland, age 21 in 1869. Koessler Collection. USVHS Archives.

Man and woman

Charles Holland, wife, sister Alta.
​Koessler Collection. USVHS Archives.

Ben Holland Ranch. 1899. USGS photo. USVHS Archives.

Joe Eneas (1896-1997) holding the jacket his close friend Plaswé was wearing when he was killed.

Historical photo, young man