Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – November 14, 2017 – 32 miles from Crescent City, up into the wilderness that makes up Gasquet, lies the 40 acres compound known as Bar O Boys Ranch.  For over six decades at- risk boys were placed there from various parts of the State.

For a historical look at the Ranch, you can listen to Ernie Bachelor’s story on about taking a job there 58 years ago that is both humorous and factual.  His narrative runs about 17 minutes specially the part about the mountain lions providing security.  They would see paw prints in the sand by the Smith River, hear their screams at night and runaways were not a problem.

At the August 8, 2017 Board of Supervisors meeting, (BOS) the decision was made to shut down Bar O.  Just when you thought the Ranch was closing or closed, it appeared on the BOS agenda today’s date.  According to Chief Probation Officer, Lonnie Reyman, the closure of the facility was effective in September. The one remaining item was in regards to Napa County.  They had to clean up “documentation and billing for both of our counties so that we have all the necessary pieces in place to close out billing for past Napa county youth housed at Bar-O. There was some bookkeeping that had to be finalized and that’s it.”

Employees were provided layoff notices.  While working with the union, seven employees were transferred to Juvenile Hall Division.  Some retired, some resigned and only two were laid off.

As to the future, Reyman said, ” County administration and building maintenance are currently overseeing the facility and any future use.”



19 thoughts on “The latest with Bar O Boys Ranch”
  1. My family Built the Original Ranch, 7 M Ranch it was called. My Brother and Dad Built this up into a Ranch, from a Wells Fargo Stage Stop. George Washington was Buried on the side of a Hill. My Dad Created a Dude Ranch for our friends in Los Angeles. We had a lot of Fun and Education living and learning how to Ranch. Our Foreman, Roy and I, skinned a Big Black Bear we had To kill or loose our Horses, Cows, etc. I’m 81 now, was 10 when we lived at Ranch. Great memories. My Brother and I visited Bar O several Years ago. We were glad to see it being used for good . Hope it Survives the Fire. Bob Maxwell

  2. My name is Dimitri Kafantaris. I was in Bar O Boy’s Camp the entire year of ’86. Mr. Rusty, Mr. Smith, Mr. Silver, Mr.Peterson, Mr. Pedersen Mr. Bob , Mr. Greener were the counselors I remember. That place saved my life and if I could of ended up being a counselor, that’s exactly where I would of wanted to work. Whoever was in charge of making the decision to close it down obviously has no clue of how great of a place Bar O was for changing people’s lives for the better.

  3. I went to bar o back in 2005 or 2006 but I wasnt there long I ran the first month I was there and got caught 23 miles down the road going to crescent city and went to juvi there for a couple weeks then went back to bar o but ran a second time …the second time I ran tho I made it back to susanville ca and was hiding for 2 weeks before the cops found me and I ended up going to preston youth correctional facility until I turned 19 ….the cool thing I liked about bar o was the swimming in the smith river ….one of the staff there mr s he would take us swimming and running all over those mountains we went and hiked trails and seen black bears and all kinds of fun amazing things …bar o was differnt from any other place I went to and I think california needed more places like that than to be locked up in cya cuz all cya did was make u more of a criminal

  4. I was in bar o for some time in my ten age years . A few years later I went to prison and did some time their as well. However allow me to say this. I walked through there last week and finally realized why I love my freedom. It was Bar o because I was free when I was their. I feel in love with the outdoors. I also found a few personal things that I made for my mom with my name on it. So I took those . It’s a shame it got shut down because this place right here is one that actually helps you not makes it worse

  5. Hello, my name is Michael S. I was sent to Bar-O-Boys Camp in 1980, I was 16 years old and i was very much a handful. This was the last stop for me before i got sent to California Youth Authority. I was not very happy to have to go there. I was not on a very good path. The Camp was very structured, You went to school everyday, then you had chores that you needed to complete. You worked on your school work as needed. Made your bed and followed simple rules, if you did not you lost privileges. The program worked on a three stage program that used shirt color to signify what stage you were on. First you were a white shirt, then a blue shirt, then a green shirt. Each shirt demanded certain accountabilities, if you got into major trouble you could lose your shirt and go backwards within this program. I almost forgot about the physical obstacle course that you had to make it through. You were held accountable for your actions, had to show respect, follow the rules. We went to church every Sunday and on special occasions we were allowed to the show house in Crescent City. What a treat that was. All of the counselors were very humbling and kind. One counselor was named ‘POPS” his wife was also the cook. He used to tell misbehaving kids to be “NICE” I was there for 4 months and four days. The program taught you to be accountable for your actions and also that there will be consequences for bad behaviors. It’s sad to see such a good thing end. I think that we need many many more of these types of programs. Locking kids up creates a revolving door in and out of jails and prisons. I know that we can do better.
    Respectfully, Michael S.

  6. Bar O Boys ranch was my home for 11 months. Steven Justice was the administrator of the ranch at that time. Alan Smith became administrator shortly after my arrival. The curriculum and disciplined teachings of Bar O, to me are to this day. Bar none, the best. Joseph A. Smith

  7. My name is Jimmy Isgrigg I was at bar o back in 1975 it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Great program awesome experience beautiful location. I learned a lot

  8. Wow WTF your lack of understanding is well is lacking. Your a joke and are clueless, out of touch with life in general. Don’t make senseless comments if you don’t know what you are talking about.

    1. If you know more, why don’t you put down some facts instead of making nonsensical comments? Where is there a lack of understanding?
      Clueless about what? What are the facts that you know?

      1. I was responding to a comment the WTF made not the article, he had made some really negative comments about BarO that I don’t see anymore. This place was a game changer for me! BarO corrected my path changed my thought process and created a humbled person. I agree somewhat with WTF that the responsibility belongs with parents but programs like this are a necessity for young men to get the direction they aren’t getting from home. Thank you BarO and all of the counselors MR Smith, MR Greener, so many people that worked there when I was there I don’t remember MR Appell for everything you did for me!!!!

  9. Frederic Voss

    In 1958 I was in Bar-O. Stayed there about 7-8 months then was send back to Sacramento for some more rigamarole. Bar-O was by far the best of the places I frequented as a youth. Staff was straight forward and fair, food was good; there was not any hot water when the first of us got there, but there there was no school teachers either, so things balanced out nicely.
    Funny, I called Bar-O earlier this evening and a guy with a strong Asian-Indian ascent blubbered on about something. I heard a lot of shouting in the background, sounded like guys having a good time. I hung up. Are you sure the place is closed?

  10. This is sad. I had no idea Bar O Boys ranch was closed. This is one of if not the best juvenile program in the state. I was there back in the mid 90’s. The program along with it’s great counselors is the reason why I am successful today. These people truly turned my life around. I can’t believe there wasn’t a way to save this program.


  11. I must have missed something here. What are the reasons why it was closed down and where did all of the inmates go?

    1. In August of this year, there were only 3 boys remaining. The County was running a deficit keeping the Ranch open. The State put in new models on how to deal with juvenile corrections. Bar O became obsolete.

      1. Nicolas asked (WHY? NOT YOUR OPINION, WTF) If you must know other counties stopped sending their juvenile delinquents here and the money to house the boys disappeared. These counties either send to California youth authority or group home. All to supposedly save a couple bucks. And the boys now Will be through the revolving door forever, when they’d been successful after leaving there. I KNOW. IT’S SAVED MY LIFE.

        1. Hi Gasquet:

          I will equate the juvenile delinquency problem, to adult criminals (some will get there some day). There is not enough space to house them. It’s that simple. That was the determination made by the State. What is the core problem? Bad parenting, I’m sorry to say. Parents who don’t care, parents who don’t communicate with their children, parents that have decided they don’t have time to raise their children. That is not opinion, sadly, that is fact.

          It does not mean that we ignore it and hope like hell it goes away, however. Let’s try and get “performance measures” that require parents to participate at school with their kids. Let’s mandate parenting classes for those feeling overwhelmed. Let’s set down the smart phones and computer games for a spell and communicate with our kids. If we don’t get going now, we’ll self-distruct.

          Based on high school drop-out rates, increases in CPS caseloads, illiteracy, drug abuse, homelessness- we know that throwing government money in the wrong directions will not solve it. Or am I wrong?

          I’m very glad that you were able to turn your life around. I hope you are serving as an example for others.

  12. It truly is a shame that Bar-O was closed. That being said, we continue to put band-aids on a lack of responsible parenting. At some point, we (Government) are going to have to social-engineer to make dead-beat parents more accountable. The school drop-out rates, lack of reading ability and speaking skills should not happen in a civilized society. It will all hit the fan at some point.

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