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Early Days of Tanque Verde Ranch


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In 1868, when Emilio Carrillo settled at the Tanque Verde, the Arizona Cattle Industry was just beginning to re-establish itself. The start of the Civil War in 1861 forced the withdrawal of all federal troops from the Arizona Territory and the Apache soon resumed their raids against the outlying ranches that were established shortly after the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. With the end of the war, federal troops returned to Arizona and began taking control of the ranching communities. By 1869 there were more than 2000 troops stationed in 14 military posts throughout Arizona. And, by the end of the Apache uprising in the mid-1880’s, nearly one half of all federal line troops were stationed in Arizona. Carrillo’s timing for the settlement of the Tanque Verde could not have been better. The Gold Rush in California created an active market for beef and the coming of the railroad to Tucson opened a huge market. In addition, the vagaries of drought and weather in Texas and California spurred a burgeoning industry. However, as is often the case, the Arizona ranchers grew their herds to such an extent that by 1890 there were upwards of over 1 1/2 million head of cattle in Arizona. Carrillo, however, was fortunate in that the Tanque Verde was well watered with adequate range. Nonetheless, the overstocking of rangeland and the severe drought of 1891-1892 forced the closure of many ranches in Southern Arizona. Those that survived learned well from the crisis the need for proper fencing to allow for herd rotation and for selective breeding for a more quality based herd. Today our cattle ranch, some 60,000 acres on the Coronado National Forest just to the east of us, maintains this dedication to productive rotation and selective stock breeding. A more scientific approach to the management of our cattle operation has produced long term benefits to the land and its use. By Bob Cote