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The HF Bar Ranch is one of the oldest dude ranches in the United States. Located in Johnson County, Wyoming, near the unincorporated community of Saddlestring, the ranch sits in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. Frank Ogilvie Horton (1880–1948) founded HF Bar Ranch in 1911 as a working cattle ranch. Originally from Iowa, Horton moved to Wyoming in 1905 and later purchased land near Saddlestring, Wyoming, for grazing sheep. He acquired the first parcels of land for the HF Bar Ranch in 1911 with the financial backing of his relatives Warren Gorrell (1874-1943), a Chicago investment banker, and his wife, Demia Butler Gorrell (1872-1956). The ranch was officially incorporated as a business in 1913, with Horton and the Gorrells as co-owners. The Gorrells spent summers with their children at the ranch from 1911 to 1929, though they continued to reside primarily in Chicago. The Horton family lived in Wyoming year-round, and Frank O. Horton managed the day-to-day operations of ranch.
Starting on the grounds of an 1890s homestead, the HF Bar Ranch grew to include 36 buildings, which were built primarily between 1890 and 1921. By 1919, Horton's holdings included 2,000 acres of deeded land and 3,500 acres of land leased from the United States government. Although founded as a cattle ranch, the property soon became a desired vacation spot for many of Horton's friends from the eastern United States. Several visitors eventually built cabins on the property and began paying to use the ranch's amenities. Like many ranches of the time, the HF Bar Ranch increasingly turned its focus from cattle ranching to dude ranching in the face of the environmental and economic turmoil of the 1930s.
After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Warren and Demia Gorrell sold their shares in the HF Bar Ranch, and associates of Frank O. Horton purchased them. In addition to his ranching activities, Horton was active in politics as a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives (1921-1923), the Wyoming Senate (1923-1931), and the United States House of Representatives (1939-1941). Following Horton's death in 1948, Henrietta ("Hank") Horton, Frank's second wife, assumed responsibility for managing the ranch. Jack O. Horton Jr. (1938-1981), the grandson of Frank O. Horton and his first wife, Gertrude Scovel Butler Horton (1881-1934), gained majority stock ownership in the mid-1970s. Jack Horton Jr. was a graduate of Princeton University (Class of 1960) and later sat on the Board of Trustees; he also held various positions within the United States Department of the Interior. When Jack Horton Jr. died, his shares passed to his fiance, Margaret M. ("Margi") Schroth, who has owned and operated the HF Bar Ranch since 1981.
Consists of two early 20th century photograph albums depicting life at the HF Bar Ranch, a combined dude ranch and working cattle ranch in Johnson County, Wyoming. The albums, both of which contain photographs taken in 1918, are carefully labeled and appear to be part of a larger series. One album, titled "Wrangling, branding, dehorning," depicts the working cattle ranch aspects of the HF Bar Ranch. Most prevalent are vivid, and often violent, images of cattle and horse wrangling, dehorning, branding, and herding. Ranchers and cowboys are photographed on horseback, as well as wielding lassos and smoking branding irons. There are also a few more placid shots capturing such subjects as a ranch hand milking a cow, a calf sniffing the wheel of a baby buggy, and a lunchtime gathering of people near a herd of cattle. The other album, labeled "Camping Trip Willow park – Trial lodge," traces the horseback journey of a group of visitors to the HF Bar Ranch. Notably, the traveling party appears to be composed largely of women. Photographs show the group riding past lakes and distant peaks of the Bighorn Mountains, as well as a few small, rustic cabins. The travelers are dressed in riding gear with bandanas tied around their necks or waists as they ride their horses up steep hills and across creeks, lounge in meadows, lunch under trees, and linger on the cabin porch of a neighboring guest ranch. Locations appearing in the photographs include the Willow Park Reservoir and the Paradise Ranch, another dude ranch that began several years before the HF Bar Ranch and offered similar tourist stays and outings. While the photographer and compiler responsible for creating these albums is unknown, several of the images depict the founder, owner, and operator of the ranch, Frank O. Horton (1880–1948), saddling his horse, leaning up against it, and supervising the unloading of supplies.
HF Bar Ranch website. Accessed August 7, 2017. http://www.hfbar.com/about.html Schroth, Margie. National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form for HF Bar. National Park Service, 1984.
Purchase, 2017 (AM 2018-8).
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This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in August 2017. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in August 2017, adapting some dealer-supplied description.
No materials were separated during 2017 processing.
- Cattle -- Marking -- Wyoming -- 20th century -- Photographs
- Cowboys -- Wyoming -- 20th century -- Photographs
- Dude ranches -- Wyoming -- 20th century -- Photographs
- Ranches -- Wyoming -- 20th century -- Photographs
- Ranchers -- Wyoming -- 20th century -- Photographs
- Recreation -- Wyoming -- 20th century -- Photographs
- Travel photography -- West (U.S.) -- 20th century
- Women travelers -- United States -- 20th century -- Photographs
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Author
- Kelly Bolding
- Finding Aid Date
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No. 157.Physical Description
No. 163.Physical Description