Over 190 youth from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Tucson South Stake) spent four days (February 21-24) re-enacting a Mormon pioneer trek on Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA). Between 1856 and 1860 three thousand Mormon pioneers, who could not afford to join wagon trains to travel to Salt Lake City, made the 1,100 mile trip on foot pulling handcarts carrying their belongings.
The trek re-enactment allows participants to experience the hardships and challenges encountered by their ancestors. Dressed in period clothing the youth pulled handcarts between four LCNCA locations (Cieneguita, Ag Fields, Airstrip, and Empire Ranch Headquarters) travelling more than 23 miles on foot and camping in below freezing temperatures.
Click here for photos of the last day of the trek.
Plan to attend our annual Spring Trail Ride on Saturday April 7th. Enjoy a ride through the rolling hills and spectacular scenery of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, or partake of activities at the Empire Ranch Headquarters. Click here for detailed information about the day and to register. Registration deadline is March 23, 2018. Click here to view photos of 2017 ride.
Did you know that in 2017 membership dues provided 47% of the Foundation’s income? ERF’s first membership drive was held in 2002 to implement one of the Foundation’s strategic planning goals– to expand the number of interested, contributing members to provide a continuing source of funds for preservation and outreach programs, and to participate in Empire Ranch Foundation programs and activities. Current membership in 2017 totaled 347.
A strong membership base is as critical to ERF’s success today as then. If you are not a member, please consider joining by clicking here. If you are a member we hope your membership is current. If you’re unsure of your membership status contact Lahsha Brown, ERF Administrator.
In recent months the most visible work on the historic Ranch House stabilization project is the removal of the cement plaster that has covered the original adobe bricks. After making any necessary repairs to the adobe the a protective lime plaster will be applied to the walls. Click here to view photos of the project as it proceeds. Statistical Research Inc. is doing the work under a BLM contract. To assure public safety the Ranch House will be closed until the work is completed.
The 17th Annual Roundup and Open House on Saturday, November 4, 2017, was a great success. Over 1,300 guests enjoyed the wide variety of western activities and performances along with wonderful music, great food, and western vendors. Click here for the final program listing, and here for photos of the event.
Dedicated volunteers have been key to preserving the historic Empire Ranch House and Headquarters. Volunteer Days for hands-on preservation activities at the ranch are held generally on the third Saturday of February, April, June, August, and October. Join us for the next Volunteer Day on Saturday, April 21st from 8am to noon. To volunteer, please submit a Volunteer Opportunities Form, and we will contact you with more details!
On April 14, 2018 Walter L. Vail (1852-1906) will be inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Great Westerners. This high honor is bestowed by the Museum “on exceptional individuals who have made an indelible impact upon the history of the great West.” Walter Vail joins Frank Seymour Boice (1894-1956), who operated and owned the Empire Ranch from 1928-1956, and more than 200 other individuals who contributed to the advancement of western heritage.
To celebrate the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Empire Ranch ERF has republished Edward L. Vail’s Diary of a Desert Trail, illustrated by photos from ERF’s archives and other library collections. Vail first shared the colorful story of the 1890 cattle drive from the Empire Ranch to California’s Warner’s Ranch through a series of articles in the Arizona Daily Star in 1922.
Vail and Tom Turner, six cowboys of Mexican descent, and one Chinese cook, drove 900 cattle over 500 miles through the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and California and across the Colorado River. The story, based on a diary kept by Vail during the two month and ten day trip, recounts their adventures and hardships including stampedes, the scarcity of water and feed, the arrest of two horse thieves, difficulties crossing the Colorado River, and an unwelcome tax collector.
Copies ($15) can be purchased from the ERF gift shop at the Empire Ranch or from Amazon.