The Friends of Brown Canyon Ranch is a group of volunteers dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Brown Canyon Ranch, a historic ranch situated in the pristine foothills of the Huachuca Mountains in Southern Arizona. The friends work closely with the forest service to preserve this wonderful historical site.
Although a very short distance from Sierra Vista, visitors get a sense of what the area was like in the early 1900’s and can easily forget that civilization is but a short distance away. The most prominent building in Brown Canyon is the well-preserved adobe ranch house at the mouth of the canyon. Often called the Barchas Ranch, after the last owners, this 4-room ranch house dates from the early 20th century and has passed through many Families. Because of the many names given the ranch by former owners, “Brown Canyon Ranch” was selected as more descriptive and less partisan to the past owners.
A little bit of history…
Brown Canyon Ranch was built a century ago by a local pioneer family and includes their ranch house, storeroom, corrals, water system, and a pond that is the habitat of an endangered frog species. The property in Brown Canyon was first permanently occupied by John Thomas Brown and his family who settled there in the late 1800s. It passed through the hands of other users during the latter part of the 19th century until the house was built by James and Tom Haverty between 1905 and 1907. James and his wife, Lessie, homesteaded the ranch in 1912 and owned the property until 1921, when they sold it to William and Margaret Carmichael. The Carmichaels were major land owners and significant philanthropists in early Sierra Vista. During their ownership, Harvey James, the owner of several mining claims up Brown Canyon, and who lived way up in the canyon in the summer, sometimes rented the house in the winter. He and his wife would often invite friends to the ranch for a social potluck and dance in the living room. Also during the time of the Carmichaels, a Yaqui Indian named Chico Romero lived there with his wife and daughters. In 1946, the Carmichaels sold the ranch to Roy and Stella Rambo, who operated it as a cattle ranch. They in turn sold the property to Samuel and Cecile Barchas in 1957, together with their additional ranch holdings across South Highway 92 (OY Ranch). The Barchas family did not live at Brown Canyon, but in a stone house at OY Ranch. Sarah Barchas obtained Brown Canyon Ranch through gift deeds from her parents in 1960 and 1961 and she owned the site until 1997. Brown Canyon Ranch is also known as the Barchas Ranch and was acquired by the USDA Forest Service in a land exchange in 1998. The Ranch is currently under renovation, but is open to walk around the property. Mexicans contributed significantly to the progress of the ranch and the enterprises in the canyon. Some of their contributions are accounted for in the history of the ranch.