A History of Those Who Ranched in Our Area

Pam Boedeker

The speaker for the SaddleBrooke Nature Club’s December meeting was Bob Simpson. Bob moved to SaddleBrooke in 2002. As an avid hiker he became interested in who had previously owned and occupied the land from Canada del Oro to the Tortolitas. While many of us may have wondered about that, Bob’s curiosity turned into a 235-page, well-researched book!

Using a slide format with numerous maps and photos, Bob began his presentation with a picture of people from France.

Why? Does the name Charouleau sound familiar? As in Charouleau Gap? Sure enough. Pierre Charouleau came to Tucson to help his aunt with some property disputes. In the process he acquired land where Miraval now stands. There is more to that family’s story in the book.

The vineyards now owned by the Golder Estates has some of that French heritage as well.

A fellow named Sanmaniego is in the history books with Charouleau. Heard that name before?

Hikers are familiar with The Cottonwoods where there is a large old dam. Concrete on that dam has an inscription Rail X. That was Frank Sutherland’s brand. He most likely built the dam. William Ray Sutherland was probably the person who constructed the reservoir. This construction was on public land now within Coronado National Forest. Ray’s wife, Ester, his third, is a story all by herself!

These men and women were very enterprising. William Sutherland was a prospector, stage coach, and flour mill owner as well as a rancher.

In 1937 deeds were recorded for the area which now includes The Preserve. It was owned by Roberta J. Nicholas who named her ranch the Rail N. She more than doubled the deeded acreage she owned. In 1959 she sold her ranch to Lloyd Golder III.

And the next part of the story including SaddleBrooke will be in book number two.

Private land makes up 18% of Arizona. That land has been acquired in a number of different ways through the years. Most of the land was contracted through the Homestead Act. There was some land which was swapped for property on either side of the Santa Fe Railroad. There were also Spanish Land Grants that involved enormous pieces of land.

As we look out our windows or hike the surrounding land it’s interesting to think of those who came here before us. No air conditioning, flush toilets, paved roads, Basha’s, Lexus, golf courses, pickleball, or stainless-steel appliances. Bob Simpson’s book, From the Canada del Oro to the Tortolitas, and the one to follow, help us put names and history to our area.

The SaddleBrooke Nature Club meets at 4 p.m. the second Monday. Most meetings take place in the ballroom at SaddleBrooke TWO.

Topics for 2020 include Cactus Rescue, Buffelgrass Invasion, Arizona Champion Trees, Falconry, Update on Oracle Animal Bridge/Tunnel, and Backyard Wildlife Visitors.

SaddleBrooke Nature Club is well known for its great field trips.

Membership dues, new and renewals, are due now.