Faraway Ranch

Faraway-Ranch.jpg

Farway Ranch
A Love Your Parks Tour Mission Possible Story on Family History, by Nancy J. Reid and Lisa D. Smith, assigned by Holly T. Hansen .   

 

On Big Blend Radio, Suzanne Moody, Park Ranger-Interpretation at Chiricahua National Monument in Southeast Arizona shares the story of the Erickson family.

The young Swedish immigrant couple looked down into Bonita Canyon and decided this was the place for them. Wide open spaces, plenty of game, and it had a good water source.

Neil Erickson had traveled west in the early 1880s. He ended up serving in the 4th Calvary Regiment and was stationed at Fort Bowie. He fought Geronimo and his band of men until they were captured and Geronimo was transferred to Fort Pickens, Florida. During this time, Erickson met Emma Peterson, a young Swedish girl, working as a maid for an army colonel in Fort Bowie. They married in 1887.

Soon after, Emma bought a log cabin located 14 miles from Fort Bowie, in Bonita Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains. She filed for a 160 acre homestead, which became Faraway Ranch. The land was too hard to farm, so Neil worked as a carpenter in Bisbee, which left Emma alone for months at a time.

Happily, in 1903, Neil became the first park ranger for the newly established Chiricahua National Forest, so he could move back to the ranch. Over the next few years the Ericksons started a family, ranched cattle and remodeled the cabin, changing it into a two-and-a-half-story ranch house. Although Emma and Neil had three children, one of them a son, it was the sisters, Lillian and Hildegarde, who took over running the ranch when the seniors moved to Flagstaff due to a Forest Service transfer for Neil.

Left in charge, Lillian ran the old homestead as a guest ranch business, calling it the Faraway Ranch. She not only rented rooms out to guests, but also led guided tours on horseback into the “Wonderland of Rocks,” for a fee.

The Stafford homestead next to the Erickson homestead was soon purchased by Lillian and Hildegarde Erickson in 1918, and they combined it with their property to expand the guest ranch business. Hildegarde married and moved away in 1920, but Lillian remained.

A few years later, in 1923, Lillian suffered a head injury in a fall from a horse that hurt her vision and left her blind 19 years later. However, just around the time of her fall, Lillian married a local man, Ed Riggs.

Ed took over promoting the rhyolite tuff rock formations southeast of the ranch as a tourist destination. Through his efforts, Chiricahua National Monument was established in 1924 and Ed was hired on to supervise the construction of new horse and hiking trails within the monument.

Neil and Emma Erickson remained in Flagstaff until Neil’s retirement in 1927, then moved back to the ranch to help improve and manage the guest ranch for the remainder of their lives. Lillian continued to run the ranch until she was in her 80s with the guest operations continuing right into the mid-1960s.

Although Lillian moved to a rest home in nearby Willcox in 1974, she returned to the ranch to manage it until her death in 1977.

The National Park Service acquired furnishings, papers, documents and records associated and the ranch 1979. The creation of the Chiricahua National Monument is important to the story of Western tourism industry as well as the history of women in the West.

You can tour the Faraway Ranch on Saturdays & Sundays at 11:00 am & 2:00 pm, but you should call the Visitor Center to confirm tour dates and times, (520) 824-3560.

Nancy J. Reid and Lisa D. Smith, Big Blend’s mother-daughter travel, radio and publishing team, are traveling full-time on their Love Your Parks Tour. This is their quest to visit all of America’s parks, and to document, map and share stories about the country’s parks and public spaces, routes and trails, historic sites and cultural landmarks, natural and geological wonders, local flavors and festive traditions, communities and people! Follow their journey and ‘Mission Possible’ stories at www.LoveYourParksTour.com.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

State Travel Guide Visit Link Here
Nearest Parks Travel Guide

Visit Link Here

Date Park Established April 18, 1924
County/City Travel Guide

Visit Link Here

Watch Our Video Visit Link Here
About the Author:

Nancy J. Reid and Lisa D. Smith, Big Blend’s mother-daughter travel, radio and publishing team, are traveling full-time on their Love Your Parks Tour. This is their quest to visit all of America’s parks, and to document, map and share stories about the country’s parks and public spaces, routes and trails, historic sites and cultural landmarks, natural and geological wonders, local flavors and festive traditions, communities and people! Follow their journey and ‘Mission Possible’ stories at www.LoveYourParksTour.com.

Category , , , , , , , , ,
Keywords   
No Feedback Received