Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ranch A and Sand Creek Histories by Nels Smith

Leo Orme (right) introduces Nels Smith (left) on Mar 7, 2017
Nels Smith shared the "History of Ranch A and Sand Creek" at the March 7 Spearfish Area Historical Society at 7:30pm at the Spearfish Senior Center with approximately 130 people attending.  

Nels organized his review of Snad Creek properties by going down Sandcreek, starting with the head of Sandcreek ath Tinton mines

1) Tinton Mines, tin mining into the 30's
2) Harvey Talley Ranch with landmarks Red Canyon and Grand Canyon
3) Sandcreek and Ranch A
    Started as a fish Hatchery by George LaPlante.  Moses (Mo) Annenberg, newspaper publisher, was on this way to Yellowstone with his son, Walter, and stopped to eat at Buelah, WY. Mo thought that the trout he was served was excellent, so he asked where it came from.  Then answer came back "Sandcreek".  Mo investigated further and bought the 650 acre Ranch A on the spot for $27,000.   Mo and Walter were the chief users of the ranch and their guests would arrive by rail to Aladdin, WY.  Walter later became US Ambassador to Great Britain.  Ranch A was filled out with Thomas Molesworth furniture.  Molesworth later became known as the pioneer of Western Design. 
Ranch A lodge designed by architect Ray Ewing

Shortly after Mo died in 1942, Nels Smith (speaker Nels Smith's father) bought the ranch with two other partners.  Ranch A was used  as a dude ranch for 20 years.  It was featured in the Oct 1956 National Geogrphic in an article titled "Back to the Historic Black Hills".  It was sold to Ford Motor Co. from Mitchell for awhile.  Then, in 1963 the Fish and Wildlife Service bought the ranch and used it as a genetics lab for research on salmon ids, fish diet & growth rates, and pesticide resistance. In 1996 the property was deeded to the state of WY for educational purposes.

Back to Sandcreek going downstream:
4) Sandcreek Country Club
5) Reneke Ranch - 2 miles of public fishing.  Banks of creek are maintained by special grass with long roots that resist erosion.
6) Toomey Mill

Note:  some pieces of Molesworth furniture can be viewed at the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish, the Crook Co Museum in Sundance and the Cheyenne Museum.