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The boundlessly fascinating Spring Mountain Ranch sits just beneath the spectacularly colorful cliffs of the magnificent Wilson Ranch, just outside the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. With quite the list of riveting owners throughout the past century, if the jaw dropping scenery won’t get you here, the history definitely will.
The uncharacteristic bevy of natural springs in the modern day State Park boundaries are what initially drew prospectors to this picturesque valley in the 1830s, and continue to do so today. This lush oasis proved invaluable to exhausted pioneers forging west, following the Spanish Trail. Essentially utilized as a pioneer-style convenience store, the commodities available proved to be an essential stopping point to re-stock supplies required for the remaining journey West. In addition to early settlers, the springs drew in notorious mountain men of the time, like Bill Williams.
By the 1870s, the area had attracted James Wilson and George Anderson who had recently acquired a heap of funds after their ranch was purchased by a former business partner. With deep pockets and a slew of ambition, Wilson and Anderson took over the property, maintaining the two existing buildings and land. Additionally, James wife Annie and her two sons James Jr. and George Jr. occupied the land and expanded the existing cabin on site by the 1870s. Misfortune strikes in the early 1880s when Annie mysterious vanishes and is never seen or heard of again. Also, James dies in 1906 and passes the ranch onto James Jr. and George Jr., who eventually sell the ranch in 1929.
The new owner of the ranch, Willard George, has even bigger dreams when purchasing the property. As a big time fur coat maker to the Hollywood stars, George decided to purchase the property to turn into a chinchilla ranch. Although not to difficult to imagine, this big business idea eventually fails, and the ranch turns hands again when purchased by radio-turned-movie star Chet Lauck.
While the blacksmith shop [constructed in the 1850s] and the original and expanded cabin [constructed in the 1870s] were the only buildings on site, Lauck constructed the main house in 1948, which currently serves as the park’s visitor center today. By the 1950s, Spring Mountain Ranch was commanding the attention of Hollywood stars, which perhaps could be attributed to the site’s natural beauty and remoteness.
German movie star Vera Krupp sets her sights on the property in 1955 after divorcing from coffee guru Alfred Krupp in Germany. With an immaculately constructed and essentially brand new mansion, Vera was in heaven and spent her days rock hounding, hosting parties, and living large in Spring Mountain until she is eventually plagued with ill health, requiring her to relocate to be closer to adequate medical care. While she so badly wanted to sell the property to the State Park’s system, the price tag was a bit too hefty, and was eventually snapped up by the Howard Hughes Corporation in 1967.
Howard Hughes purchased the property to entice his estranged wife, Jean Peters, to move to Las Vegas. This sadly, was a failed attempt as Peters had no interest in commuting to what she considered to be a remote location…however, not all was lost, as Hughes’ Corporation began using the ranch as a corporate retreat of sorts. Hughes ultimately left Vegas in 1971, and the ranch was sold to a local car dealership owner named Fletcher Jones. With grand visions of tearing down all existing buildings, dividing the land up and slapping a boatload of condos on the property, Jones aimed to erect a gargantuan master planned community. Luckily, the proposal was eventually thwarted and the land was sold to State Parks in 1974.
With six babbling springs on the property, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park owns all water rights, and that alone is worth more than all 520 acres of land and all the buildings put together! An undoubtedly relaxing getaway, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is the perfect getaway to escape the scurry of the Strip. Enjoy a morning hike in nearby Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area or on the scenic overlook trails that loop throughout the park, immerse yourself in the unbelievable scenery at Lake Harriet—home to the endangered Pahrump Pupfish, and cap off the day by kicking back on the lawn area for an evening picnic. You will almost certainly spot Penelope, the resident spotted cow who lives at the park, and if you’re lucky, might even track down a herd of wild burros.
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