Rebels Get Hands-on with Walking Box Ranch Public History Project

Apr. 21, 2020


Rebels get hands-on with history.

For more than a decade, public history graduate students and faculty have worked to preserve and interpret the Walking Box Ranch, a historic property in Searchlight, Nevada. Built in 1931 by original “It Girl” Clara Bow and her cowboy film star husband Rex Bell, the Walking Box Ranch is one of Southern Nevada’s most significant historic properties. Collaborative partnerships with the Bureau of Land Management, the Nevada State Museum, and Friends of Walking Box Ranch give students the opportunity to work elbow-to-elbow with seasoned professionals.

Through classes History 749 and History 750, students have created digital and tangible ways for the historically minded to experience the ranch itself and its remarkable collection of material culture. For more than a year, students have researched, cataloged, and documented the university-owned collection ‒ a 2,000-piece assortment of ranching tools, 1930s Navajo rugs, personal artifacts from Clara Bow -- including her makeup case -- and mission-style furniture that was custom built for the Ranch. A digital history project displays the collection and features the in-depth research of the students. At the ranch, students have developed interpretive plans for the property and environment-focused walked tours.

For those interested in preserving and celebrating the past, the Walking Box Ranch captures the mish-mash of historical developments that have shaped our region's history: Hollywood and popular culture, ranching, mining, labor, the Mojave desert, and the lure of the American West. 

Check out a Walking Box Ranch photo gallery and cutlines here.