(Thermopolis, WY) – The Alliance for Historic Wyoming hosted an “Unbarred Tour” of the Arapaho Ranch on Saturday, August 24, which featured a day of presentations and tours of the Ranch and the Historic Arapaho Mansion.
The origins of the Arapaho Ranch began in 1867 as a 75,000-acre sheep operation known as the Padlock Ranch established by Col. George Sliney. In 1917, Chicago industrialist Lee Simensen, in partnership with two newspaper magnates from Montana and Colorado, purchased the ranch where he built the Italian Villa-style mansion and a horse barn for the purpose of breeding and training Percheron Draft Horses. The sheep ranch continued, and at that time was the largest sheep operation in Wyoming.
In 1928, the stock market crash caused the investors in the ranch to lose cash and the Padlock Ranch was lost to bank receivership. In 1940, twenty-two years later, the Ranch, along with six additional ranches in the area was sold to the Northern Arapaho Tribe as a part of a Federal government economic development cattle operation project, adding up to 350,000 acres. In 2008, the Arapaho Ranch was the largest organic beef producer in North America. Today, the Arapaho Ranch is 450,000 acres with 3800 head of cattle, with the Tribe raising grass-fed, non-hormonal beef.
The Arapaho Ranch Field Station Project is a non-profit organization that functions within the footprint of the Arapaho Ranch to restore and repurpose the structures not used by the ranching operation. Besides the mansion, the interpretive “Unbarred” tour included structures such as The Horse Barn, The Granary, The Blacksmith Shop and Carpenter Shop, and the C-Store, which was a store that once carried everything from veterinary supplies to groceries and horse packing frames. It currently serves as the Field Station Office and information center with interpretive exhibits.