The Spring Mountain
Ranch is a 520 acre oasis located at the base of Wilson Cliffs near the
Red Rock Canyon. Due to its proximity to the Spanish Trail, this
area was used by travelers since the early 1800's as a watering place and
camp site . It was visited by pack and wagon trains until the railroads
came into Las Vegas in 1905. This was also a place visited by outlaws,
horse thieves and highwaymen who preyed on the pack trains and
caravans of emigrants and immigrants who traveled the nearby Spanish
In 1840, a mountain
man named Bill Williams, watered and rested his horses here after he
participated in the infamous raid on the Mexican Ranchos in California. He
really must have liked the place. He came back so often that the place
became known as the 'Bill Williams Ranch' for several years. Some years
later, in 1861, the area was farmed by the lead miners at Potosi Mountain.
In 1876, James Wilson and his partner, George Anderson filed a land claim
on the property and named it the Sand Stone Ranch. In the early 1880's
George Anderson left the ranch and abandoned his two sons there. James
Wilson, however, stayed on until he died in 1906. Wilson raised Andersons
sons as his own. They eventually inherited the ranch and operated it for
decades. In 1919, they mortgaged the ranch. Then, as luck would have it,
they were unable to pay off the debt! Finally, in 1929, they were bailed
out by a family friend, Willard George, a well known Hollywood furrier.
George gave them a life estate at the ranch and the two men stayed there
for the rest of their lives. Not only did they live there and die there,
they are also buried there. This is a place that someone can definitely
get attached to!
When Willard George
owned the place, he once attempted to raise Chinchillas at the ranch.
Apparently not with great success however. In 1944 he leased the ranch to
a radio personality, Chester Lauck. Lauck got so attached to the place
that he bought the ranch and started to invest some serious money in it.
He built the main ranch house, a large reservoir for irrigation and
installed a water powered electrical generating system they called
'Boulder Dam, Jr.' He also opened a boys camp on the property.
In 1955, the ranch
again changed hands when Lauck sold it to Vera Krupp, wife of the German
industrialist Alfred Krupp. She added the swimming pool and the west wing
of the ranch house. She also renamed it the Spring Mountain Ranch. The
ranch was Vera Krupp's principal residence until 1967 when she sold it to
Howard Hughes who, at that time, was buying up everything he could in the
Las Vegas area.
Entrance fee is $6.00 per car. There are historic tours, horseback trail rides and group
events. The group events can be a day long affair with horseback riding, a
cowboy barbecue, country western music and dancing, a ranch tour and
several other activities. In the summer months, there is 'Super
Summer Theater'. These events are run by a local, non-profit
production company which has been putting on theatrical productions at the
'Theater in the Meadows' for several years.