SPRING MOUNTAIN RANCH STATE PARK
Spring Mountain Ranch is located within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, beneath the colorful cliffs of the magnificent Wilson Range. The many springs in these mountains provided water for Paiute Indians and later brought mountain men and early settlers to the area. This 520 acre oasis was developed into a combination working ranch and luxurious retreat by a string of owners who have given the area a long and colorful history. Past owners of the ranch included Chester Lauck of the comedy team "Lum & Abner," German actress Vera Krupp, and millionaire Howard Hughes.
Because of the higher elevation, the ranch offers a diverse opportunity for plant study. Four plant communities are represented: Desert Scrub, Black brush, Pinon-Juniper, and Riparian. Plants typical of the desert as well as woodland can be seen, and with adequate rainfall the spring brings a burst of wildflowers. Common species sighted are desert marigold, globe mallow, brittlebush, Joshua Tree, Mohave Yucca, and indigo bush.
Animal life is diverse but nocturnal, so many species go unseen. Typical desert animals include a variety of lizards and snakes, antelope ground squirrels, jackrabbits, cotton tails, kit fox, and coyote. Higher elevation species include rock squirrel, badger, mule deer, and bighorn sheep.
At the base of the magnificent Wilson Cliffs lies Spring Mountain Ranch. This 520-acre oasis was developed into a combination working ranch and luxurious retreat by a string of owners who have given the area a long and colorful history.
In the mid-1830's a campsite was established along the wash that runs through the ranch. The spring-fed creek and grassy meadows formed a welcome oasis for travelers using this alternate route of the Spanish Trail through Cottonwood Valley. The use of the site by pack and wagon trains continued until their replacement by the railroad in 1905. This remote trail was also used extensively by outlaws involved in Indian slave trading, horse steeling and raids upon passing caravans. In 1840, a group of American mountain men and Ute Indians conducted a famous raid on the Mexican Ranchos in California. Mountain Man Bill Williams, a member of the raiding party, brought his band of horses through Red Rock Canyon where he rested the horses from the hard trip across the desert. Apparently he revisited the area several times and for many years afterwards the site of Spring Mountain Ranch was known as the "Old Bill Williams Ranch."
Wilson family friend, Willard George, acquired the ranch in 1929 by paying off the outstanding debt incurred by Jim Jr. and Tweed. George was largely an absentee owner, leaving the ranch operation to the Wilson's. During 1941-43 the George family lived on the ranch. George was a prominent furrier in Hollywood, and during this time he raised chinchillas in addition to the cattle operation. George gave Jim Jr. and Tweed a life estate to the old cabins, which lasted until Tweed's death in 1959. Three generations of Wilson men are buried in a small family plot on the ranch.
In 1944, the ranch was leased to Chet Lauck (Lum of the "Lum and Abner" radio show). In 1948 Lauck picked up his option to buy the property and began construction of the main ranch house. Lauck's Bar Nothing Ranch was a vacation retreat for his family. He opened a boy's camp on the property and continued the cattle operation. Lauck also built a large reservoir and named it "Lake Harriet", after his wife. A water-powered generating system was installed and dubbed "Boulder Dam, Jr."
In 1955 German movie actress Vera Krupp purchased the ranch from Chet Lauck. Krupp was the longest residing owner. She expanded the business of ranching by raising a large herd of a hybrid strain of white-faced Hereford and Brahma. She added a swimming pool and expanded the west wing of the main house. Krupp renamed the property Spring Mountain Ranch, and it was her principal residence until 1967.