The Sheckler family is one of the original pioneer families in the mountain empire area and Ben R Sheckler and son, Claude, had a great influence on our road system back in the late 1800’s.  

Ben R. Sheckler and Dr. Wright arrived in Potrero in 1874 and settled in Round Potrero Valley.   They got along fine, but both wanted the big spring in the southwest corner of the valley.  In 1874 they decided to flip a coin to see which one would get the spring on the ranch.   Dr. Wright lost and was so disappointed,  that Ben Sheckler left it for him.  Ben said he always wanted to settle in the Cottonwood valley, so they packed and moved over to Cottonwood  (Barrett area).   While moving, at the top of the Potrero grade, one of their pack mules ran away.  It was the mule that carried all the dishes and pots and pans, so all these useful utensils were scattered over a couple of miles of trail and brush. 

They settled about where the Taylor ranch is now at Barrett Junction.  They had a beautiful ranch, but Ben was not a good cowboy.  He hired a Mexican named Mendoza who trained his son Claude to ride and be a cowboy.  Later Claude was considered to be the best bronco rider and roper in this area.  In 1884 it rained so much that their house was washed away.  The bridge at Cottonwood also washed away and Claude would help people cross the river.  In places it was so deep the horses were swimming and it was dangerous unless you knew where to go.

Claude Sheckler eventually moved and settled in Engineer Springs in Dulzura.   Claude worked for the County Road Department and helped to build and keep up Highway 94.  As you can see from the pictures, they used pick and shovels and a horse drawn grader to repair the road.  Donald, Claude’s son, was a cowboy for 37 years in and around Dulzura and lived here most of his life. Donald remembers about the roads and history from his father and grandfather’s stories.

Donald Sheckler’s mother, Hazel, was a special lady with many talents.  She came to Dulzura in 1909 from South Pasadena and was an artist and  musician.  She worked and rode with the men rounding up cattle until she was 60.  She was a real pioneer woman and lived to be 94 years old.  If you have ever spent any time at the Board of Supervisors Chambers at the County Administration Center on Pacific Highway I’m sure that you have enjoyed the large mural on the east wall.  Mrs. Sheckler was one of the three artists who painted this mural in the 1930’s.

Donald Sheckler and his wife Caroline live in Dulzura and they have helped with the Highway 94 history articles.   Most of the pictures you have seen in the news articles have come from the Shecklers.  Thanks for sharing them with us!!


Get picture of Sheckler’s

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