Photographers Trek Tanque Verde Ranch

Patricia Thoresen - Guest Registration stop

Patricia Thoresen – Guest Registration stop

Sylvia Butler - The Watering Hole

Sylvia Butler – The Watering Hole

Robert Thoresen - Load Them Up

Robert Thoresen – Load Them Up

Mike Turner - Chow time

Mike Turner – Chow time

Robert Thoresen

At the western foothills of the Rincon Mountains and the eastern terminus of Speedway Boulevard is Tanque Verde Ranch (Green Tank or Pool). Pima Indians first settled here in the 1600s near the Cottonwood Grove. Ranching commenced in the 1860s. Dude ranching came to the wash in the 1920s. Twenty members of the Photography Club of Quail Creek came for an afternoon photo shoot, hiking the ranch’s trails in the Sonoran Desert and taking in an evening cookout on January 30.

Cattleman Jim Converse introduced better genetics to his cattle herd and became a very successful rancher in the Tucson Valley. Jim built the present day ranch Ramada to welcome Eastern guests to the Tanque Verde Ranch in 1928. Willing to pay a fee for the ranch life experience, these guests provided Jim with enthusiastic labor and much needed cash. Unfortunately, on September 29, 1945, after a few drinks at a local bar, Jim accidentally shot a Mexican cowboy. Enduring a controversial set of trials, he was ultimately convicted of manslaughter. The experience sapped his enthusiasm and he sold the ranch in 1957 to Brownie Cote.

Forgoing a promising law career, Brownie Cote decided to follow his passion for developing the lives of youth after purchasing camps Minnesota in the 1920s. In 1944 he purchased the Desert Willow Ranch in Tucson, Arizona to offer year-round employment to his seasonal Minnesota employees. Responding to Tucson’s rapid growth, he acquired the Tanque Verde Ranch in 1957 from Jim Converse, anticipating unlimited business opportunities.

Brownie’s son Bob took over management in 1969. Having spent the thirteen previous years overseas in a variety of countries, Bob decided to market heavily in Europe in the early 1970s and to remain open year round. He introduced a wide range of activities to cater to the varied interests of families visiting the ranch. Retiring in 2009, Bob and wife still live on the property and are seen almost daily visiting with their many ranch friends. (See for more information).

The present day ranch has 640 acres and also leases from the U.S. Forest Service approximately 60,000 acres for its cattle operation. Guests today can experience its varied history with miles of exciting horse trails which wind their way through desert and mountain scenery where once silent Apaches waited in ambush to surprise working vaqueros. Today’s guests can kick off their dusty boots and gaze into the spectacular Arizona sunsets just as the earlier cowboys did after a long days’ ride.

Club members stayed for the 6:00 p.m. BBQ dinner at the Cottonwood Grove which included a soloist balladeer doing favored western tunes. The food was great although darkness made it somewhat difficult to see what one was actually consuming.

Trip Advisor has posted an 87% thumbs up for Tanque Verde Ranch. White Stallion Ranch, which the PCQC visited last spring, has a 99% thumbs up report from Trip Advisor. Bob B, who spent a few days this February attending a corporate function, indicated he and his wife had an awesome time at Tanque Verde Ranch riding, hiking and visiting. Bob B says the accommodations are terrific, the grounds wonderful and the facilities more than appropriate. He recommends guests should arrive with a cowboy hat. Bob B seems to be a denizen of Fort Wayne, Indiana. This writer has had occasion to do stopovers in Fort Wayne many times in the past so one can understand Bob B’s enthusiasm for a southern Arizona guest ranch, particularly in February.