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. Although a very short distance from Sierra Vista, visitors get a sense of what the area was like in the early 1900’s and 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 L-shaped dwelling dates from the early 20th century and has passed through many owners. 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.
John Thomas Brown arrived around 1879 or 1880. The family lived in Brown Canyon about a mile from the mouth of the canyon. The Brown family was counted in the 1880 and 1882 territorial censuses. However, they were not listed in the 1900 or 1910 censuses suggesting they had moved.
Jack Parker and William Frierson occupied the home site in the early 20th century. A number of Parker and Frierson children lived there in the 1910’s and 1920’s.
The ranch that appears today was built by James Haverty, with his brother Tom, around 1905-07. Jim and his family lived here for about two decades. The ranch was the first in the East Huachucas area to have running water, a kitchen sink, bathtub, basin and toilet.
In the 1920’s the ranch was sold to William Carmichael. It is not clear whether Carmichael ever lived at the ranch.
During the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s some 150 woodcutters of Mexican descent lived and worked in the canyons of the Huachuca Mountains including Brown Canyon. They had contracts with Fort Huachuca to supply wood to those who lived on Post for heating and cooking purposes. Some of those living in Brown Canyon included the Garcia, Laguna and Valenzuela families. In addition, a laundry was operated out of the Ranch House by Mary Molina.
In 1946, ownership passed to Roy and Stella Rambo who apparently did not live here. In 1957, the ranch was sold to Samuel and Cecile Barchas and in 1961, ownership passed to their daughter, Sarah. In all ownerships, the property was a working cattle ranch. To preserve the ranch and surrounding lands, Sarah Barchas pursued a land exchange with the Forest Service. In 1998, the ranch became part of the Coronado National Forest.
Take Highway 92 to Ramsey Canyon Road and turn west. At a little over 2 miles, look for the Brown Canyon Ranch sign on your right. Follow the maintained Ranch Road about a mile to the parking lot. You can then walk the short distance to the Ranch as well as access nearby trails and ponds.
Ghosttowns of Southern Arizona
Ranch Weather Information
Here is a link to a Virtual Reality tour of the ranch, so put on your VR headsets (if you don’t have any it works in any browser) and look around the ranch.