It’s been an exciting year for the Empire Ranch! The long-awaited stabilization of the main ranch Ranch House is underway and will be completed in 2018. When the building reopens we will be able to provide improved and enhanced interpretation of the rich history of the Empire Ranch. We hope you will help us with a year-end contribution which will help fund new exhibits and improvements to existing exhibits for generations to come.
To make a contribution, click here. Or call 888-364-2829 to process your donation by phone.
Current work on the historic Ranch House stabilization project includes construction of the roof-wall connection system; preparations to build supporting walls under the floor of the Children’s Addition; and repairs to the adobe walls of the east and west walls of the original 4-room E.N. Fish house and Rear Addition and the south wall of the Victorian Addition. 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.
Jacob Abelowitz, Boy Scout Troop 774–Tucson, led a team who removed an old carpet and repaired and refinished the beautiful wood floor underneath a bedroom in the Huachuca House/Visitor Contact Station.
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. Detailed information about the day’s events will be posted in early 2018. Click here to view photos of 2017 ride.
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, February 17th from 8am to noon. To volunteer, please submit a Volunteer Opportunities Form, and we will contact you with more details!
A circular feature comprising a curb wall of fired (red) brick capped with mortar has been discovered in the yard just south of the Victorian Addition. The feature’s design suggests that its intended use was originally as a pond or
fountain which was eventually converted to a planter. Photos taken in the 1930s by the Boice family show a round planter at that location (see below).
The Empire Ranch Headquarters public restroom building has been raised to mitigate water erosion problems, two ADA-accessible parking spaces have been added near the front of the building, and a hard-surfaced pathway now leads down to the start of the Heritage Discovery Trail.
Runoff water from rains was causing gullying in the parking area, and undermining the concrete slab floor of the two public restrooms and storage room that make up the building. Because the entire Ranch Headquarters site slopes to the north, it was decided to raise the level of the restroom and parking area to mitigate the erosion.
Click here to view photos of the project.
Twelve enthusiastic students participated in the 2017 Youth Engaged Stewardship (YES!) program at Las Cienegas NCA. The students met with BLM historic preservationist Chris Schrager to survey land within the conservation area for historical artifacts and potential evidence of an apple orchard which existed near the Ranch headquarters in the early 1900s. The students obtained tree trunk samples, to be compared with images of apple tree dendrology, and helped to reveal and document an older cement trough and water pipeline found near the potential apple orchard. The pipeline and water trough were thoroughly documented with photos, written and drawn observations, and GPS coordinates. The analysis of the tree samples revealed they were not fruit trees, so further investigation into the location of the trees will be needed.
Work on removal of cottonwoods (limbs and dead trees) burned by the Sawmill Fire in the Empire Gulch is almost complete. Once the work to remove this safety hazard is completed BLM will re-open this section of the LCNCA for public use. For a recent story about the tree removal project click here.