wolfe ranch in arches national park

by jani on March 27, 2013

Each year there are an estimated 1.7 to 1.9 million visitors to Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. They visit the park to to see the incredible formations (we did that and you can see our images here)… to hike and sometimes to just sit, ponder and take in some of nature’s most magnificent vistas.

I wonder how many stop to visit Wolfe Ranch. It is, after all, off the main road which takes you to Delicate Arch and everyone wants a photo of this iconic arch! I would, however, suggest to those of you who may visit Arches, to take the left fork and drive the short distance to see this historic building. Then ask yourself, how on earth did Wolfe and his family survive in the middle of nowhere?

At first HB had no interest in walking to see this sad- looking edifice. But on closer inspection… and I mean peering into the windows, we were both taken back by the tiny living space – and immediately wanted to learn all we could about this family and why they would choose this desolate spot to live.

wolfe ranch 4This is apparently the remains of the corral that Wolfe used for his livestock. How did he find water? We saw no nearby water sources when we were there. How far did they have to travel for basic needs? It’s all quite mystifying to me!

wolfe ranch 1There’s no chimney or stove that we could see. How did they cook? How did they keep warm in the cold winter months? The difficulty of this lifestyle has had me pondering ever since we visited this place.

Here’s what we’ve learned from Wikipedia:

“John Wesley Wolfe settled in the location in 1888 with his oldest son Fred. A nagging leg injury from the Civil War prompted Wolfe to move west from Ohio, looking for a drier climate. He chose this tract of more than 100 acres (0.40 km2) along Salt Wash for its water and grassland – enough for a few cattle. The Wolfes built a one-room cabin, a corral, and a small dam across Salt Wash. For more than a decade they lived alone on the remote ranch. In 1906, Wolfe’s daughter Flora Stanley, her husband, and their children moved to the ranch.[2] Shocked at the primitive conditions, Stanley convinced her father to build a new cabin with a wood floor.”

wolfe ranch 2The root cellar-

wolfe ranch 3One thing I realized after our visit to Arches National Park and especially the Wolfe Ranch – just how easy our lives are. We are surrounded by luxuries and yet  find so many things to complain about. We need to take a moment and realize all that we are blessed with on a daily basis.

Have you ever visited Arches National Park? While there, did you stop to see this historic building? Granted it isn’t much, but there’s such a story behind it. If you do go… maybe – just maybe – you’ll look at the water bottle you’re holding in your hand and realize that there was no chore in getting it! As always I welcome your comments.

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