Bitner Ranch, NV 2022
Bitner Ranch, NV 2022

Bitner Ranch, NV 2022

Bitner Ranch, NV 2022

If you think today’s supply chain challenges are tough, imagine being a rancher in the 1800s! Enjoy the expanse of the Great Basin on this scenic ranch project. 

PROJECT PARTNER: Bureau of Land Management

SESSION DATES: September 18-23 and September 25-30


CREW LEADER: Brittany Vallene!

Project Site Description & History

Bitner Ranch is located on Paiute land in what is today known as Nevada. Ranches in the American West hold many stories, but one overriding one relates to technological and logistical advances throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. If you think today’s supply chain challenges are a pain to deal with, consider the stressors faced by Euro-American ranchers trying to move from subsistence-level operations to profitable ranches! In trying to date a historic ranch, one can examine the construction materials used onsite, and compare those to what would have been available in the area at a given time. Ranches are exciting because their structures often demonstrate and embody the relatively fast progression of technology and materials availability.

Bitner Ranch can be dated by the specific style of barbed wire found onsite, as well as local survey data. Barbed wire encircling the ranch’s historic corrals was typically used between 1874 and 1892, however, the survey map indicates that at least one ranch structure was constructed almost twenty years earlier. Given its proximity to the Applegate-Lassen Emigrant Trail, it’s likely that the original builders traveled along this route in search of new opportunities, and decided to settle here. It wasn’t until 1900 that the land was patented from the state of Nevada. With settler/colonizer expansion across the west, it is not unusual to see ranches or similar establishments founded before they were recognized by the government. As federal and state land management agencies evolved between the late 1800s and mid 1900s, private landowners with holdings established before the inception of these agencies could find themselves at odds with new laws and regulations.

Bitner Ranch holds a ranch house, a blacksmith shop, a bunkhouse for laborers, a milk barn, root cellar, outhouse, corrals, and an animal pen. The most recent structures were built as late as the 1930s. The milk barn is thought to be the newest structure. The ranch was at one point owned by the Miller & Lux company, which purchased it in hopes that the ranch’s high elevation and cooler climate would help protect cattle from the then-rampant splenic (aka Texas) fever. Miller & Lux gave the ranch up for sale in 1926; the BLM purchased the land in 1995. Volunteers will get to work on multiple buildings at this historic ranch!

Location and Logistics


September 18-23 and September 25-30. Please plan to arrive at the campsite no earlier than 5pm and no later than 7pm on the first day of your session.

LOCATION:  Bitner Ranch is located in Badger Meadows in Washoe County, NV.

·       MAP to CAMPSITE (same as project site)

ACCESS:    Tent camping only Site is RV/trailer accessible

Tents, truck campers, campervans, and RVs can access our onsite campground. There are no hookups and the ground may not be perfectly level. A water spring will be available and potable water will be brought to the site. Dogs are not permitted on this project as it is located in an area with protected wildlife.We will be camping on location in a primitive campsite prepared for us by our project partner. It is highly recommend that you bring a spare tire because of the possibility for loose nails and punctures. This location involves 40 miles of gravel road and 10 miles of dirt road to access but does not require a hi-clearance vehicle or 4WD.

WEATHER:  Anticipate highs in the 80s and lows in the 50s. Weather conditions may be rainy, cloudy, or sunny. Volunteers are responsible for checking weather conditions before their session begins, and packing appropriately.

ABOUT VOLUNTEERING: HistoriCorps projects are free for volunteers! HistoriCorps will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the campsite, sleeping equipment, work gloves, clothes and boots, and other personal gear.

Scope of Work


HistoriCorps is committed to educating and training volunteers in preservation skills, with an overarching mission of inspiring a preservation ethic in all those involved. Learning and working alongside expert HistoriCorps field staff, volunteers and applying the traditional skills necessary to restore the Bitner Ranch. Volunteers should come prepared for a medium level of intensity due to consistent sun exposure and moving lumber.

  • Stabilize the livestock barn walls and roof (50%)
  • Repair the livestock barn board-and-batten siding (20%)
  • Repair the livestock barn corrugated roofing (20%)
  • Repair other features of the livestock barn including doors, saddle racks, troughs, shelves, etc. (10%)

Please note: Tasks vary by day and by week, depending on a variety of factors including: weather, project priorities, previous groups’ work, and more. Though it is likely you will get to learn and practice most or all of the above tasks, it is not guaranteed. The higher percentage of the scope a particular task is, the more likely you will get to practice it.

Sign Up!

We’re thrilled this project has inspired you to volunteer! Choose your session and register below:

You will know your registration was successful when you receive a confirmation email. Contact for assistance.

HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue engaging volunteers to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.

Volunteer Logistics, Policies, and Advice

We’re so glad you’re interested in joining this project! If you’re new to our community, review the Volunteer FAQ first! Please note the following logistics and policies:

  • HistoriCorps is committed to keeping our volunteers, staff, and project communities safe.  Read our Covid protocols here (updated August 2022).
  • Volunteering with HistoriCorps is free! We will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite or shared indoor lodging. Dinner is not provided on the first night.
  • Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own gear, work gloves, sturdy work clothes and boots, and appropriate sleeping equipment. Check the average temperatures before you start packing – the nights and mornings may be colder than you anticipate! Then, read this advice about how to stay warm when tent camping in colder places.
  • Campsite accessibility varies by project. Some projects can accommodate tents only; others can accommodate small RVs. Please review the project site description above for more information, and if you’re still not sure, email for help.
  • If this project does not offer showers, you might want to consider bringing a solar shower or research other methods to clean up after the work day.
  • Volunteer crew sizes generally range from 4-8 volunteers, with two HistoriCorps staff that lead and train volunteers in the work.
  • Safety is one of HistoriCorps’ top priorities, and volunteers can contribute to a safe working environment by ensuring their physical fitness is adequate for the work. See above for this project’s scope of work and difficulty level. Please, call us if you are not quite sure if a project is a good fit for your skills or fitness level. We may be able to suggest a project more suitable and enjoyable for you.
  • Hard hats, eye protection, ear protection, gloves are standard personal protection equipment (PPE) required on all projects. Hard hats must be worn at all times on the project site, unless working in a designated safe space. Field staff will train volunteers on correct use of PPE.
  • Dogs are generally allowed to accompany their humans in project campsites (actually, we love having dogs join us around the campfire!). Dogs are not permitted on the job site for everyone's safety. HOWEVER: HistoriCorps also follows the rules and regulations of our project partner. If the project partner does not permit dogs onsite then HistoriCorps is no exception. Please ask HistoriCorps or the project partner directly if you have any questions about whether Fido is welcome.