The Walking Box Ranch near Searchlight, Nev. has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) announced today. The register is the official list by the federal government of historic places worthy of preservation. The 160-acre ranch, located about seven miles west of Searchlight, is managed by BLM and jointly operated by the UNLV Public Lands Institute as an educational and cultural resource.
The ranch qualifies for the register listing because of its association with the history of cattle ranching in Clark County and the Mojave region. The ranch house is significant for being an uncommon local example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style, a sharp contrast to other Southern Nevada ranch houses. In addition, the property's barn is an example of railroad tie architecture, a typical method of construction in the region utilizing ties from two abandoned rail lines in the area.
"The Walking Box Ranch provides an opportunity for the BLM to study ecosystem management in an arid landscape and to partner with UNLV to research the biodiversity of the Mojave Desert," said Robert Taylor, Special Projects Manager for the BLM's Southern Nevada District Office. "Additionally, it allows us to educate the public on ranching in the Southwest and the role of public lands in the development of the West."
"It's an honor for Walking Box Ranch to be recognized," said Jean Cline, UNLV geoscience professor and Walking Box Ranch director for UNLV. "We hope the historic and cultural values of the ranch will provide unparalleled interpretive and educational opportunities for residents, students, and educators."
Walking Box Ranch was built in 1931-1932 by legendary silent film stars Rex Bell and Clara Bow. It served as a working cattle ranch and celebrity retreat that attracted some of the couple's famous Hollywood friends through the 1930s and 1940s. It was sold to Karl Weikel in 1951, who renamed it the YKL Ranch and continued to operate the property as a working cattle ranch until Viceroy Gold Corporation purchased it in 1990. Viceroy used the property to access its local mine and rehabilitated the ranch headquarters to be an executive retreat. The property changed ownership several times from the mid-1990s until it was acquired by BLM in 2005 with funding from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act.
The ranch is divided into two distinct sections: the 40-acre "headquarters" parcel, which comprises the historic ranch house and other ancillary facilities; and an undeveloped 120-acre parcel, which contains critical habitat for the federally-listed desert tortoise and more than 300 native species of plants and animals. The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit conservation organization, has conservation easements on both parcels for maintenance of the ecological and cultural integrity of the ranch.
Current access to the ranch is limited to research and renovation activities. BLM and UNLV are currently engaged in developing a master plan for the preservation, development, and management of the ranch for future generations. Public access will be announced in the near future. For more information, please call the BLM at (702) 515-5000 or the Public Lands Institute at (702) 895-4678.