James Cant Ranch Historic District

Also known as: Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
OR 19, Dayville, Oregon


Cant Ranch, East side of State Route 19

1. James Cant Ranch, view from NE showing House, Log Cabin and Feed Storage Shed

Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress



The James Cant Ranch is significant on a local level for its association with exploration/settlement and agriculture. The Cant Ranch has been a local landmark in the John Day River Valley of Eastern Oregon since the construction of its imposing main house was completed circa 1918. Nestled below Sheep Rock along the John Day River just north of Picture Gorge, the ranch is one of the most intact remaining examples of early 20th century ranching operations in the valley. The land was first homesteaded by Floyd Officer, a member of one of the first families to settle in the John Day River Valley. After purchasing land, the Cant family used Officer's cabin, which still stands today. The Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, in which the ranch is located, incorporates the initial 357 acres purchased from Officer by James Cant, St., in 1910. In addition to the main house, the ranch complex includes the barn, sheepshearing stalls (among the best preserved of their type still known to exist in the region), watchman's hut, bunkhouse, and six other outbuildings. James Cant, Sr., a Scottish immigrant, became one of the more prominent ranchers in the valley. The ranch remained in the Cant family until it was purchased by the National Park Service in 1975, three years after Cant's death at age 92. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in June 21, 1984. -- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS OR-142)

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on June 21, 1984
Reference number
NR name
Cant, James, Ranch Historic District
Areas of significance
Exploration/Settlement; Architecture; Agriculture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Single dwelling; Agricultural outbuildings; Animal facility; Secondary structure
Current functions
Museum; Park
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Significant years
1910; 1934
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 11