The barn at the Refuge has been determined as historic in character with the 1930s Depression area Resettlement Administration. Under this program, destitute families were moved to new locales by the government and assisted in re-establishing farms. The barn is the result of one of these programs.
In 1948 a huge flood breeched the dikes and caused extensive damage. The problems with flooding and damage to farms caused a re-evaluation of the farm program. By the 1960s interest in establishing a wildlife refuge and returning the valley floors to a seasonal wetland gained momentum. In 1964 the refuge was established.