A film about my travels in this area will be posted this coming week.
Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale
Welcome back. After a few days spent at the Ghost Ranch in north central New Mexico, I’ve come back to Bartlesville a new man. The magic of place and the experience of walking in the footsteps of the famous people who have stayed there one sees life from a different perspective. The early Indian people who lived in the area and the early Spanish explorers of 1598 called it “El Valle de la Pierra Lumbre” which translates as ‘The Valley of the Shining Stone.”
In the early 1920s Carol Stanley opened a dude ranch on the property where she hosted many wealthy families and celebrities such as Charles Lindbergh and the great conductor Leopold Stokowski. Editor and publisher Arthur Pack visited the ranch in 1933 and fell in love with it. He eventually purchased Ghost Ranch and over time he acquired additional acreage around it, enlarging the ranch to a total of twenty-one thousand acres. At the same time, artist Georgia O’Keefe began visiting and after a long negotiation she finally bought seven and a half acres from Arthur Pack, just a short distance from his home. O’Keefe built a house on her land which still stands today.
In order to protect Ghost Ranch from development Arthur Pack and his wife donated the entire property to the Presbyterian Church in 1955 to be used as an educational center. Today the ranch can accommodate over 300 guests who are able to enjoy not only the beauty of the multi-colored hills and sandstone cliffs but also the legends surrounding the site. Rumor has it that outlaws from years past buried sacks of gold somewhere in the canyons, amongst many dead bodies. There are also stories about monsters that roam at night but no one who sees them lives to talk about them. The locals call Ghost Ranch “Rancho de los Brujos” or “Ranch of the Witches” and tell you about six foot tall earth babies covered in red hair and ghost cows with wings. Others recall meeting the scientists who developed the atom bomb during World War II in Los Alamos, just a few miles west of the ranch.
Its kind of scary after the sun goes down here when you can hear cries that sound like people in pain. Everything is peaceful during the day when you can hike trails called Chimney Rock and Kitchen Mesa. For real hikers there’s the Box Canyon trail where dinosaur fossils are common This is a place where the spirit world and the present day human world come together and its about as beautiful as it gets. Just an hour and a half drive northeast of Santa Fe, Ghost Ranch is another American treasure that the Original Buffalo Dale highly recommends. If you want to know more about rates and reservations go to www.ghostranch.org or visit my website www.originalbuffalodale.com but beware, like me this trip might just rearrange the way you look at life.
Another inspiring place that I’ve written about before is Philmont Scout Ranch. Just a few miles outside of Cimarron, New Mexico along the old Santa Fe trail, Philmont is not only one of my favorite places but was also one of legendary oil man Waite Phillips’ as well. Philmont sits at 6,430 feet above sea level and the first thing you see is the mountains. Majestic to say the least. Your visit there will be filled with history as well.
A tour of the Waite Phillips home is a must along with a visit to the celebrated St. James Hotel where many an early day cowboy met his death. Buffalo Bill, Clay Allen, Jesse James and many others stayed at the St. James and you can too. But beware, ghost sitings are common here. The St. James is owned by Oklahoma businessman and philanthropist Bob Funk and it is as much a museum as a hotel. All the guest rooms in the original part of the building are decorated in old west style from the 1800s. The common areas are filled with western art and artifacts including original Will James drawings, a collection of spurs and paintings of the hotel’s famous guests. This is another of my favorite stops whenever I’m traveling in this part of the world and for sure it’s a must if you’re out that way. As an added bonus, elk, deer, turkey and even bear can be seen in the area on a regular basis.
I’m out of space now but next week I’ll have more from my travels in New Mexico. Till then, I’ll see you down the road….