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    … Who We Are The Empire Ranch Foundation (ERF) is a non-profit 501c3 volunteer organization that was established in 1997. Acting in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the purpose of the Foundation is to protect, restore and sustain the Empire Ranch historical buildings and landscape as an outstanding western heritage and education center. …

  • Empire Ranch Docent Tours

    … Effective February 2022 reservations are now required for all docent-led tours of Empire Ranch Headquarters. Tours are scheduled for 11am on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. Click here to make a reservation. Reservations are due by 5 pm on the Friday before the tour. Requests for special tours can also be made via the website link above. Posted 1/31/2022 …

  • National Day of the Cowboy

    … Plan to join us on Saturday, July 23, 2022 from 8 a.m. to noon to celebrate National Day of the Cowboy at the Empire Ranch. It’s a free family friendly event with western demonstrations, vendors, and tours of the historic Ranch House. Posted May 10, 2022 …

  • The Search for the Right Ranch (July 14-August 22, 1876)

    After arriving in Tucson from Los Angeles on July 13, 1876 Walter Vail and Herbert Hislop began the search for the right ranch property on which to make their fortune. The tale told below comes mostly from Hislop’s letters published in An Englishman’s Arizona. The Ranching Letters of Herbert R. Hislop, 1876-1878. Tucson: Overland Press, 1965, and Vail family correspondence from the Empire Ranch Foundation archives. July 14, 1876—The Search for a …

  • Empire Ranch is Purchased and the Hard Work Begins (August-December 1876)

    After exploring three ranches in the Tucson vicinity Walter L. Vail and Herbert Hislop decided to purchase Fish’s ranch, which they begin to call the Empire Ranch. It is not clear who named the ranch. The partners begin the hard work of completing the 4-room adobe building, stocking the ranch, and expanding its land holdings. August 22 & 23, 1876—The Purchase of the Empire Ranch is Recorded; New Owners Get to Work Transfer of Property from Edward…

  • Join Our E-Mail List

    By joining our Email List, you’ll receive occasional E-News communications, providing the latest information about events and activities at the Empire Ranch. Please know that you can easily unsubscribe at any time by sending us an email with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. Privacy Statement: We recognize the importance of protecting the privacy of all information provided by users of our website, and subscribers to our Email List. We do not sh…

  • Are You an ERF Member?

    Did you know that in 2019 membership dues provided 33% 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. A strong membership base is as critical to ERF’s s…

  • Docent Tour Reservation Form

    Free Docent-led Tours of the Empire Ranch Headquarters, sponsored by the Empire Ranch Foundation, are held at 11am on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. Meet at the Visitor Contact Station. Tours are free, and open to the public. Reservations are required for tours. Please complete and submit the form below to make a reservation or request additional information about tours. Reservations must be made by 5 pm the Friday before the tour…

  • National Day of the Cowboy, July 23, 2022

    … Each July the Empire Ranch Foundation celebrates the National Day of the Cowboy at the historic Empire Ranch. It’s a free, fun family event. Plan to join us on July 23rd!   Program details will be posted soon. To register as a vendor, click here. To register as a non-profit exhibitor, click here. Click here to view photos of the 2021 celebration. …

  • Empire Ranch Establishment, 1876-1878

      This chronology tells the story that led to the establishment of the Empire Ranch when Walter Lennox Vail (age 24) and Herbert R. Hislop (age 23) purchased a 160 acre homestead in Southeastern Arizona. The information recounted comes primarily from letters written by both partners during the formative years of the Empire Ranch. The Partners Meet and Prepare to Travel to Arizona (June-July 4, 1876) The Trip from Los Angeles to Tucson (July 5-13,…