Behind you are many of the original buildings of the historic Empire Ranch, established in the 1870s by Edward Nye Fish on 160 acres with a four-room adobe ranch house and corral.
In 1876, Walter L. Vail and Herbert R. Hislop purchased the ranch and expanded the original land holdings, livestock and buildings. The Vail family operated the ranch until 1928 when it was purchased by a partnership of the Boice, Gates and Johnson families. Frank Boice and his family lived on and managed the Empire Ranch for 47 years. In addition to ranching, they also hosted Hollywood production companies for the filming of a number of classic western movies.
In 1969, the Empire Ranch was sold to Gulf American Corporation for a proposed real estate development, and resold in 1974 to Anamax Mining Company for mining and water potential. Fortunately, none of these developments materialized.
In 1988, a series of land exchanges put the property into public ownership under the administration of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 2000, the U.S. Congress officially designated these 42,000 acres as the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. Cattle operations continue to this day under BLM lease arrangements.
More information about the history of the Empire Ranch can be found in Main Ranch House behind you.