What’s New

Office Interpretation

Plan to visit the Empire Ranch and view the newly interpreted Office (Room 11) in the Empire Ranch House.  Walter Vail added on the room he used to conduct his business and political affairs about 1878.  It still houses the Empire Land & Cattle Company safe in which Walter locked his whiskey when he was away from the ranch.  The Boice family also used this room as an office, and the safe was used to store the company’s books and records.  The room also contains a record/mailbox cabinet dating to the Vail era.

The room’s walls and interior woodwork were painted.  The cabinet was repaired, oiled, and cleaned.   A donated roll-top desk, rolling desk chair, and old Royal typewriter have been added to the furnishing.  Reproductions of five framed maps, which illustrate the location of the Empire Ranch and its holdings, including the Total Wreck Mine, are now mounted on the walls.

Posted 2/15/2020

School Desks Find a New Home

In 2007 the Bureau of Land Management obtained some classic school desks from the Tombstone Schools for use in the rehabilitated Fairbank Schoolhouse. Desks not needed at Fairbank have been in storage at the Empire Ranch headquarters until recently. On December 7, 2019, the desks were picked up by Patagonia Museum curators, Tom and Linda Shore.

The desks eventually will be placed in the historic school house in Lochiel, AZ, southeast of Patagonia. Built before 1905 of adobe and used as a schoolhouse through the 1970’s, the Lochiel Schoolhouse, which is owned by the Patagonia School District, has been leased by the Patagonia Museum for the purpose of preserving this historic site as a historic and educational facility for students and the community.

Posted 2/15/2020

Spring Trail Ride

Come ride with us on Saturday, April 4, 2020 at our annual Spring Trail Ride.  Click here to register as a rider, vendor or non-profit organization.  Enjoy guided horseback rides, a 3-hour at 9 am or a 1.5-hour at 10 am; or, choose a 1 hour horse-drawn wagon ride. All three options include a catered chuck wagon lunch, docent tours, and more! Lunch starts at noon.

The registration deadline is Friday, March 20, 2020.  Click here for photos of the 2019 ride.

Posted 1/28/2020

Help Us With a Year-End Gift

We accomplished so much in 2019, thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and the generosity of our members and donors. In March BLM and ERF celebrated the completion of the historic Empire Ranch House renovation project.  Interpretation projects completed included the business Office (Room 11) used by the Vails and Boices which was painted, furnished, and interpreted with business records and maps.  The Living Room and Master Bedroom of the Victorian have new interpretive exhibits, and the Bookeeper’s Room is furnished with Victorian era pieces.   Our annual Cowboy Festival brought nearly 2,500 visitors to the ranch. Our outreach efforts have also garnered tremendous results with increased awareness and building our volunteer ranks.

Please help us with a year-end contribution which will support interpretation projects for additional areas of Empire Ranch Headquarters

To make a contribution, click here. Or call 888-364-2829 to process your donation by phone.

Posted 12/2/2019

Help Us Evaluate the Cowboy Festival

Please help us evaluate the 2019 Cowboy Festival to let us know how we did.  Click here to complete the online survey form.  It will take less than 5 minutes to complete.  We promise to put the information to good use!

Christmas at the Ranch

Almost 300 guests enjoyed the Christmas at the Empire Ranch festivities on Saturday, December 14th.   There was music by Bill Ganz, western line dancing by the Saguaro Strutters, a chance to visit with Santa, and lots of fun shopping.

Updated 12/19/2019

2019 Cowboy Festival

Over 1,900 guests and 450 presenters, demonstrators, vendors, authors, and volunteers attended the 19th annual Cowboy Festival on Saturday, November 2nd. It was a spectacular day enjoyed by all!

Click here to see photos of the event.  The final program can be viewed here.

Updated  11/3/2019


Over 200 viewers attended the Empire Ranch Foundation’s presentation of “Oklahoma” –the  2019 Western Movie at the Loft Cinema in Tucson on September 15th. Many thanks to all the groups who participated in the event including the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum; TCM Backlot, Tucson Chapter; and the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum.

Click here to view photos of the event.

Updated 9/16/2019

National Public Lands Day

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and ERF celebrated NPLD at the Empire Ranch on Saturday, October 12th.  Great progress was made on the three volunteer projects along the Heritage Discovery Trail: decommissioning of the frog head-start facility; preservation work on the Hired Man’s House; and trail maintenance.

Thanks to all who volunteered!

Updated 10/17/2109

Volunteer Days

Dedicated volunteers have been key to preserving the historic Empire Ranch House and Headquarters.  Join us for the next Volunteer Days on  Saturday, March 7th from 8 am to noon. To volunteer, please submit a Volunteer Opportunities Form, and we will contact you with more details!

Post updated 1/27/2020