Camp Rucker was a ranching headquarters for over 80 years. The first owner was Michael Gray, a Justice of the Peace in Tombstone, Arizona. He moved to Camp Rucker in 1883 under the privileges of a "Squatters Claim." Gray was strongly committed to controlling Indian depredations and the loss of cattle from cattle rustling. With his family, he created Old Camp Rucker Ranch covering about 22,000 acres.
Theodore Hampe, a German artist, and his wife Mathilde purchased Old Camp Rucker Ranch from Gray in 1896. Mathilde's description of the ranch upon first seeing it was:
"Just before arriving at the ranch we had to drive up a short steep hill. [The old road was located near the Bakery]. Coming upon the house suddenly, [originally the Commissary] a pleasant surprise awaited me, for there was a large adobe house set in a mass of flowers, many kinds of shrubs and trees, There was also a vegetable garden in the corner."
The Hampes raised goats and cows. They were also artists, some of whose illustrations and watercolors depict life in Rucker Canyon. They painted the ceiling of the small adobe house here.
Charles and Mary Rak bought the ranch from the Hampes in 1919. Charlie Rak was a cattle rancher. Mary Rak, from San Francisco, was new to ranching, but soon adapted to the way of life. She described many of her experiences in books she wrote while living at the ranch. Two of the best known are "A Cowman's Wife" published in 1934 and "Mountain Cattle" published in 1936. The Raks branded their cattle "O C R" for Old Camp Rucker.
The Raks sold the ranch to Mrs. Ella Dana of New York in 1943. She used this historic property as a restful retreat before transferring it to the Forest Service in 1970.