Manistee Ranch is a historic ranch in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. The ranch was founded in the late 19th century and was one of the largest cattle ranches in the American Southwest. The ranch is now a National Historic Landmark and a popular tourist destination. It serves as an educational facility and research center for the study of desert ecology and history. Next article.
The Manistee Ranch property was initially the homestead of Frank Murphy, an Irish-born rancher and prospector. Murphy built a small adobe house and began ranching cattle on the land. The ranch grew steadily over the next several years, and by the early 1890s, it comprised over 8,000 acres (3,200 ha) of land and was home to over 1,000 head of cattle.
In 1895, Murphy sold the ranch to Richard J. Donovan, a wealthy businessman from San Francisco. Donovan expanded the ranch even further, adding more land and increasing the herd to over 5,000 head of cattle. He also built a large residence on the property, which came to be known as the “Big House.”
Donovan died in 1909, and his widow, Julia Donovan, inherited the ranch. She continued to operate it as a working cattle ranch until her death in 1934. At that time, the ranch was inherited by her son, Richard Donovan Jr.
Donovan Jr. ran the ranch as a successful cattle operation until the late 1940s, when he began to convert it into a guest ranch and resort. He built several new structures on the property, including a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a golf course. He also constructed a small airstrip to accommodate private planes.
The Manistee Ranch became a popular destination for Hollywood celebrities, politicians, and business tycoons. In the 1950s, it was frequented by such luminaries as Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, and Edward R. Murrow. Click here for more information.
In recent years, the Manistee Ranch has been operated as an educational facility and research center by the University of Arizona. It is open to the public for tours and special events. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of this iconic property, consider taking a tour of the Manistee Ranch.