What’s New

The Outlaw Josey Wales

Almost 200 guests attended the 2018 Western Movie at the Loft Cinema in Tucson showing of The Outlaw Josey Wales on August 8th.  Prior to the movie, guests enjoyed a panel discussion with Michael F. Blake, retired Hollywood make-up artist and the author of Cowboy President, a book about the cowboy days of Theodore Roosevelt. He was joined on the panel by retired Hollywood stuntman Bunker DeFrance.  Colleagues of Blake and DeFrance’s close friend Neil Summers worked on the film, portions of which were shot on the Empire Ranch.

Click here to view photos of the event.

Updated 8/16/2018

Empire Ranch House Stabilization Update

The Empire Ranch House is open after a 15 month closure for a major stabilization project!  It will take several months to put the Ranch House back in order but it’s wonderful to see the rooms without bracing supports, a smooth coat of lime plaster on the exterior walls, and be able to explore the Children’s Addition which has been inaccessible for years for safety reasons.

Updated 7/29/2018

Pima County Proclamation

At its meeting on July 3rd the Pima County Board of Supervisors declared July 28, 2018 to be “Empire Ranch, Walter L. Vail, and Arizona Cowboy Heritage Day.” The text of the proclamation reads:

WHEREAS the Empire Ranch is part of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, a key component of the Pima County Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan; and

WHEREAS Pima County supports the preservation of its cattle ranching heritage and culture, and the role that cowboys and cattle played as one of the Five Cs of Arizona; and

WHEREAS the Empire Ranch Foundation serves to protect, restore, and sustain the Empire Ranch historical buildings and landscape as an outstanding western heritage and education center; and

WHEREAS the Empire Ranch Foundation is hosting the National Day of the Cowboy at Empire Ranch on July 28th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and

WHEREAS the National Day of the Cowboy celebration will include a tribute to Walter L. Vail, founder and partner of Empire Ranch, who was recently inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and served as a member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 1884, and who that same year founded and served as the first president of the Arizona Stock Growers Association;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Pima County Board of Supervisors, hereby proclaims July 28th 2018 to be:


and encourages all citizens to attend the celebration at the Empire Ranch, or if they can’t attend, to support the Empire Ranch Foundation and all its good works.

PASSED AND ADOPTED this 3rd day of July, 2018.

Legacy Day 2018

On May 2nd sixty-nine students from Patagonia and Elgin middle schools enjoyed a day at the historic Empire Ranch. This year’s instructional sessions included horsehair braiding, roping, range management, and horse care. Chris Schrager described the preservation needs of headquarters buildings and led the students on a tour to illustrate work completed or underway.A hearty lunch of brisket, tortillas and beans was served.

Click here to view photos of Legacy Day activities.

Published 9/6/2018

National Day of the Cowboy

Over 300 enthusiastic visitors celebrated National Day of the Cowboy at the Empire Ranch on July 28th.    The day’s events included Western heritage demonstrations, Van Fower’s re-enactment of the “Story of Walter Vail,” a presentation on “Multi-generational Ranching” by Ian and Addie Tomlinson, and the opportunity to view some western pilot movies. The docent-led tours provided everyone with a special opportunity to re-enter the main Ranch House after a 15 month closure for a major stabilization project.

Click here to view photos of the day’s events.


Updated 7/29/2018

Hall of Great Westerners Award to Walter Vail

On April 14, 2018 Walter L. Vail (1852-1906) was 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.  Click here to view photos of the event, and click here to view the video about Walter Vail shown at the induction.

Updated 5/18/2018

Are You an ERF Member?

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.

Posted 2/3/2018