Hidden in the Dust of Time
Tip your Hat to lost legends and some of the toughest critters in Coconino County
By J. Adam Burch and Stacey Lane
When playing a song about the heartland or reading about past places we have yet to see, a legend is nurtured. Legends of music and the big-screen are readily available online to be consumed at will, but there are other lesser known legends that lie nestled in a crook; along a lonely path, perhaps crossing the desert into a black forest. Like all stories, tales of the old west get more colorful with time, aging and dormant until the time is right for their debut around the campfire.
Nevertheless, the old west is real and in this story the vibrant flora and fauna serve as background for photographers, painters, writers and hikers, as well as the real legends of yesteryear.
Surviving along the Mother Road, and shining from beneath the dust of time, this newest eco-diamond to be discovered is near Williams, Arizona. As legend goes, was hidden by one of the toughest and smallest critters in the west. Ruth ‘Bazy’ Tankersley, grasped the standard for old west living long before Route 66 became historic.
Nary a footnote, nestling on its own, the Historic Hat Ranch opened its gates to reveal the unspoiled pallet in Kaibab National Forest, the heroes that protect old legends and keep clear the roads traveled while making new ones. It has been revived for the sake of education and love of knowledge, demonstrating self-sustainability on the rocks.
Hosts of elite traversed rough country by train and horseback dating back to when it was the “Quarter Circle, Double X Ranch,” owned by Isabella Greenway back in 1927. It has been temporary home for notables, the notorious and colorful, reclusive and actual, bona-fide legends.
Rugged equestrians, gun smoke clouding around a ten gallon hat, images preserved in real time around towns like Williams. In an effort to bring economic support to small rural towns a new breed of rancher saunters onto the scene where tranquility, peace and spiritual connection flourish when coupled with a vast bombardment of real open range. It summons souls found travelling cross-country on Historic Route 66.
Bazy’s second nature was for nurturing the land and living humble despite a vast financial empire, setting precedent for the next generation of legend. Known to be a “tough critter” politically and at home, she was at peace with the wild animals, embraced liberty of life and self-sustainability and when it came to implementing her agenda, she got her way.
It became the “Hat Ranch,” in 1977, and as that story goes; the ranch, seen from the nearby cliffs and mountains, a hat shape among the juniper and oak. Bazy owned the Chicago Cubs, and according to High Country News “I would read Arizona Highways and cry,” she said referring to her longing to return from Illinois. She bought the ranch to keep horses during Arizona’s hot summer months.
The buildings are nobly simple in outline as the region itself is sculptured with volcanic rock, pine, oak and spruce. Tales whisper throughout the main house while a black and white photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s visit stares across the room to a porch swing in a book shelved, country cushioned sitting room.
Bazy’s love for guests continues to set the stage, the new hosts dazzling with true accounts of the ranch history. Built in a rugged past, and whether it would be considered a log mansion, or a well-equipped and humble ranch home in the woods, there is an intrinsic value that is unable to be priced in gold, nor equate to a sparkling man-made zirconium finger trinket.
Upon her death; 2013, she set aside land to be forever safe from development; stewards put in place, overseers like the University of Arizona Research Lab, and caring individuals ready to greet you today. Eric Eikenberry and John Moore welcome you to share in the preserving the integrity of the living, ecologic gem it took so long to make.
Share in the legends of the old west while it embraces our natural resources. Today, the entire property is powered by photovoltaic power – giving new light to an old tale. Re-focus your energy here. The Ranch offers you the beauty of seclusion nestled next to an abundance of wildlife, fishing lakes and surrounded by the Kaibab National Forest. Whether on foot or horseback, the 2800 acres of private ranch land at 6,700 feet are a must for those seeking a true taste of the region. Allow yourself the beauty of natural energy to reset and rejuvenate your inner self. You may just walk away one tough critter.
To learn more visit, www.historichatranch.com
While you are there; Bike the Grand Canyon – Bright Angel Bicycles – don’t miss a tour of one of the most scenic route of the Grand Canyon -a bike ride with wind in your hair and panoramic views of the South Rim Grand Canyon – To learn more visit www.bikegrandcanyon.com