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The Box R

Greensprings ranch resort is home away from home for lovers of Old West

Some people call the Box R Ranch the quiet destination resort.

The 1,500-acre spread in the Greensprings, a winding 23 miles from Ashland,draws more than 3,000 visitors a year who come to ride the wagons, hikethe conifer trails, get acquainted with farm animals, experience the OldWest or just do nothing.

That's a highlight, say owners Don and Jean Rowlett.

I can always tell when somebody on the phone asks Jean what's thereto do, he says. She says, `Nothing.'

That's a big part of the ambience that brings people from all over theRogue Valley and all over the country to the ranch.

They rely on word of mouth for most of their business.

It's a popular destination for business and organizational retreats,school field trips, family reunions and outings.

Church groups amount to 50 percent of our use, he said. Onefamily (from the San Francisco area) has come here every year for 20 years.For the kids, this is part of growing up.

It's a world away from where the Rowletts grew up in Southern California.

Don was a manager with Woolworth's stores for 36 years, Jeansaid. We spent the last 12 years in Hawaii.

He launched a discount clothing store chain, Ross Dress For Less, thatgrew to 140 stores doing $600 million a year. After five years, he soldout.

Don bought this so we could retire, Jean said.

They furnish a quote from a guest that pretty much summarizes their retirement:The desire to retire is an expression of despair, for it is the markof a man who does not understand his purpose.

Because of the water and feed at the Box R site, it's been a huntingground for American Indians for hundreds of years. It was a wagon trainand stage stop along the Applegate Trail.

There wasn't much here when we bought it in '69, he says.The main house dates to about 1900.

They've since built three cabins and a two-floor museum and moved indozens of structures from Pioneer Village in Jacksonville. They've broughtin about 50 assorted wagons and carriages.

And, in addition to doing nothing, visitors can fish ­ the ranchoffers a trout pond and a crappie pond ­ or ride horses.

Deer and other wildlife frequent the grounds, which harbor 300 varietiesof trees and plants.

The ranch accommodates up to 35 people at a time. The cabins at the ranchare rented by the day or week from April through December.

While other destination resort proposals have snagged on land-use limitations,the Box R's legacy as a stage stop established visits as an existing use,Rowlett said.

We're grandfathered to do a lot ­ that's all behind us,he said.

Jackson County Commissioner Sue Kupillas said she doesn't think land-uselaws will ever permit a destination resort in Jackson County as long asone neighbor can stop it. Dom Provost has been striving, unsuccessfully,for more than a decade to establish Clear Springs Resort near Ashland.

Sue and Ed Kupillas recently invited relatives from all over the countryto an anniversary celebration at the Box R.

People love to go up there and have the western experience on areal working ranch, she said. They are able to farm and ranchand add to our tourism experience. It's the best of all possible worlds.

The ranch has been used in a number of television commercials for Lippert'sCarpet, Les Schwab Tire Centers, Cadillac and local banks.

Former Jackson County sheriff C.W. Smith used to put on an annual barbecuefund-raiser at the ranch.

It's a beautiful, pristine spot, he said. We'd havehorse races up there ­ the meadow's perfect ­ and wagon rides. Theauthenticity of the museum just adds to the experience.

It's surprising how many professionals want to get away,Don said. Parents can just turn their kids loose and give the kidsa break from parents planning every minute of their lives.

The Rowletts refurbished the nearby Pinehurst Inn and opened a gourmetrestaurant, which they've since sold.

Jean has run the ranch for the past five years while Don has spent muchof his time raising hay and potatoes on 7,000 acres they own in KlamathCounty.

You'll see no souvenirs from Hawaii in the Rowlett's house, nor mementosfrom other travels.

This is where we get away, he said. We're on vacationall the time.

The feeling of an Old West ranch greets visitors to the Box R Ranch in the Greensprings east of Ashland. The ranch museum is at the left in the photo. - Photo by JIM CRAVEN</P