Uncle Tom’s Cabin caretaker, Rance MacFarland in Episode 114


Uncle Tom’s Cabin is known worldwide as the last stop before hitting the Rubicon Trail. While Uncle Tom’s is owned by the Lawyer family, it is looked after by a variety of cabin holders, Rance MacFarland has been one of those for over 20 years. Listen in as he shares his history of growing up near the Rubicon. You can tune in on any of your favorite podcast players.

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9:25 – you got in line and got your sack lunch and headed up toward the (Rubicon) trail

17:13 – he failed me the first time

26:15 – I pulled into a gas station and recognized the truck, asked if they were hiring

35:08 – “oh, you’ve got to change your books”

40:27 – the trades are still there, it’s still a good career

48:16 – it used to be cash only, and a lot of people don’t carry a lot of cash with them

52:25 – this year is 100 years it’s been in the family

1:00:53 – I think that’s always been Uncle Tom’s deal – hoping that people have a good experience

We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.


[00:01:20.230] – Big Rich Klein

On today’s episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Rance McFarland. Rance is one of the most well known characters you’ll find up at Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Over the last ten to 20 years, he’s retired, worked as a bridge builder and construction. But since retiring, he’s been kind of the captain Super Foreman, volunteer crew leader up at Uncle Tom’s cabin on the Georgetown divide. And that’s on the way into the Rubicon. And it’s a place I first went sometime in the early eighty’s and I’ve always enjoyed it up there. And Rance and I became friends quite a few years ago. So, Rance, I want to say thank you for coming on board and talking about your history and maybe some of the history of Uncle Tom’s as well.

[00:02:09.910] – Rance MacFarland

Thank you pretty much. Like you said, been up Uncle Tom’s for the last 20 plus years. I’ve been one of the yearly cabin rental people. Most of the yearly cabin people rentals are people that do volunteer and kind of do what it kind of takes to keep that Crown jewel going.

[00:02:35.980] – Big Rich Klein

Excellent. So let’s step way back. Well, you’re about the same age as I am, but we’re pretty damn close in age. So where did you grow up and where were you born?

[00:02:50.110] – Rance MacFarland

I was born in Valley, but my dad was actually kind of working. Most of his career was with Tiger Construction and actually he started out as a truck crane Oiler and then became an operator. And they actually was doing a bridge job over 99 and discovered Elk Grove and thought that it was pretty neat central area and next, you know, moved the family to Elk Grove. So about pretty much since I was two, went all the way through school in El Grove, graduated pretty much raised my identical twin boys there, started there. I mean, a lot of time in El Grove, but family had history up in Placerville. Camino area. Always enjoyed going up towards the Crystal Basin area my parents loved that area. Took us camping and stuff there. And as far as willing that’s kind of how struck my interest was being able to go with my dad the first time in the 60s, probably on a Jeepers Jamboree and stopping at Uncle Tom’s and getting kind of the bug of the Jeeps. Just was amazed as a kid what that vehicle could traverse and do up there on the Rubicon Trail, right.

[00:04:27.550] – Big Rich Klein

Absolutely. And you were in Valley for while you were in Diapers, basically. So then the rest of it was Elk Grove. Elk Grove was pretty rural at that point, was it not?

[00:04:40.370] – Rance MacFarland

Very rural? Yeah. Pretty amazing to grow up in that area there because you’re talking before Five went all the way through and highway 50 you ended up going through actually Folsom ranskirt over before you hit the main freeway going up towards Placerville.

[00:05:00.970] – Big Rich Klein

Yeah. All those stop lights.

[00:05:03.230] – Rance MacFarland

Yeah. The fields and the ranches. I mean, having access for Hunt and fish. And before I got my license, pretty much going out to the ranches is where I learned to drive and be in some of the Jeeps just out there on the ranches, working sometimes at the ranches. You could probably consider that almost my first jobs is Ranch hand work.

[00:05:35.920] – Big Rich Klein

Right. And that Elk Grove area, people that aren’t familiar with that, that’s south of Sacramento along 99 Interstate Five kind of fills in across that area. It’s been known for quite a few years, is putting out some really good youth football teams. When I coached in Napa and in Pacifica, we always were hearing about the Elk Grove football teams with popcorn or being so strong and everything. But, you know, that’s another story. So with growing up there, you said you went through basically from two years old through high school and raising your kids there and stuff. So working out in rural areas like that, farms, you’re driving tractors, probably getting into some pickup trucks and four wheel drives, moving stuff around. But what did you do for your own personal commute? Did you have like a little motorcycle or bicycle? What did you have time to do?

[00:06:48.590] – Rance MacFarland

Bicycles were a big thing to get out into the fields to build the tree forts. And Elk Grove had what they I don’t know if it’s still there or not, to tell you the truth. But we had the fish hatchery. Right. We built little makeshift campers to go on our wagons and pull over there to go fishing at the ponds. You had Laguna Creek. There was so much to do. As a kid, you’re my age. I was a generation where before all the electronic type stuff there, you just came in the house when the street lights came on there.  READ MORE


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