Home Behind the Brand Behind the Brand: The Doyle Ranch

Behind the Brand: The Doyle Ranch


Behind the Brand: The Doyle Ranch

by Melissa Blosser, Assistant Editor

The Doyle Brand is number 147 and one of the oldest registered brands in Lassen County.

For the Doyle family, the ranch holds memories of a place where many family gatherings were held, neighbors helped with brandings and serves as a reminder for the family on how they made it work.

With breathtaking views of Skedaddle mountain and Honey Lake, the Milford Ranch is truly a serene place which Ken and Irene have preserved and cherished.

The couple used to run a cow-calf operation until about 15 years ago when they decided to lease out some of the pasture and farm land.

“Working with the cattle was pretty economical because everything was done by horseback” said Ken. “Operating expenses are so high right now that the price of cattle needs to be all they are and more to stay in business.”

Moving the cattle on and off the range in Plumas County was practical to their operation due to the location of the ranch and the range where they just moved them over the hill on horseback.

Soon after they leased some of the ranch out Ken became more involved in diversifying other parts of the property including the gravel pit. 

In addition to helping with the family ranch, Irene worked in town serving as the Lassen County Auditor for many years. The couple have three children; Dan, Mike and Kendra and six grandchildren.

A view of the Barn looking out off the Doyle Family Home.

As the future of the ranch continues to develop, the history of the family as one of the oldest in Milford anchors them to the land.  In 1869 James Doyle, Sr. and his wife, Mary came into the valley with their one year old son, Thomas Doyle.

Jerry Tyler lived next to the ranch and the family spent their first winter with him.  That ranch was later purchased by Ken and Irene and they built their home there.

James Doyle retired in 1904 and he moved to the house in Milford (now Irene’s seasonal store).  His sons Thomas and William remained on the ranch as separate owners.

Ken and Irene Doyle have preserved and cherished their family ranch.

Around the turn of the century the Tyler Place property passed to George McCoy. Before the Second World War, Harold “Heavy” Campbell bought the property. (Interestingly, Campbell was Doyle’s uncle Murray Doyle’s brother-in-law.)

The Doyle Brothers (Kenneth, Ken’s father and Murray) purchased the land from Campbell in the 1950’s as part of their ranching operation and eventually the property was purchased by Ken and Irene.

The property is also home to the old Jerry Tyler barn, which was restored by a Reno contractor in 1999.  The barn was built in the 1860’s and is the second largest barn in Lassen County and the largest restored structure of its kind.

The old barn suffered severe damage during a windstorm and even though several contractors said it couldn’t be rescued Ken and Irene were determined to save a barn which harbored so much history.

The old Tyler Barn renovation.

“It was always a neat old barn and we didn’t realize how bad of shape it really was in.” said Ken. “We finally found someone willing to take on the project. As we watched them come out here with all their equipment to fix it, I thought about the wooden beams still inside the structure and how they were originally brought in by horses and put up.”

One-third of the roof was blown away, collapsing the other side of the roof into the hole, but now the reconstructed barn has become a place of family gatherings during the holidays, weddings and to this day stands fully restored.

The barn isn’t the only structure the couple struggled to save. Over the years the ranch has been threatened by fires and mudslides.

Ken Doyle stands in front of the newly renovated barn where the many family gatherings have taken place.

“During the Clark Fire of 1987 pine trees across the meadow were exploding all around us. It was very scary and we didn’t know what was left around us until day light. Less than six months later we had a mudslide with mud coming down right into our back yard along with many rocks and a trees,” said Irene.

After Irene retired from Lassen County in 2003 she opened a Christmas store in the ‘Tom Doyle’ ranch house. The store is located right off of Highway 395 and is home to many local crafters who sell their goods along with gifts. 

The store is open in November through mid-December on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

“As long as  it is still fun for us we will continue to do it,” said Irene.

Looking back, Ken and Irene say they would not change their way of life and appreciate the ranch more every day.

“We wouldn’t choose to do anything else, it is a wonderful way of life in a wonderful community with great friends and neighbors,” said Ken.


The Holiday Store is in the old Tom Doyle home located of 395 and is full of gifts and Holiday Decor.

The stories behind Lassen County’s Agricultural Heritage.

These days farming and ranching is getting more difficult, farmers and ranchers will tell you, they aren’t getting rich off choosing to save the family farm. Most people who continue to stay in agriculture do it to preserve their family heritage, or because they have come to love a rural way of life. This column will serve to feature local people who continue to preserve their family heritage by suiting up every day to bring food to your table. If you are interested in preserving your heritage by telling your story, please contact Melissa Blosser at melissa@susanvillestuff.com or 530.249.7828. Your story can also serve you and your family as memorabilia, for future generations continuing a rural way of life in Lassen County.

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