Del Rio Springs History. Pt 4 – Fred Harvey Farm

In 1909, the AT&SF Railroad, in conjunction with the Fred Harvey organization, embarked another new enterprise. They took up dairy farming, purchasing 3,250 acres of land at Del Rio… The Sept. 9, 1909, edition of the Journal Miner reported the following: “the intention is to cultivate the first year the soil with a grain hay and later this will give way to alfalfa. As soon as the land is in shape the first consignment of dairy cattle will be placed on it, and it is probable that the feeding pens at Peach Springs will be abandoned. The Grand Canyon herds will come to Del Rio at practically the same time, these two stations being the most expensive points to maintain along the Santa Fe. Approximately inside of a year from the present time a herd of 300 Holstein cows will be on pasture at the new location.” By 1913 several structures has been completed at the Del Rio Ranch including a bunkhouse, cow and horse barns, a milking barn, cooling towers and a mess hall. The ranch supplied all the milk and eggs to the western division of the Harvey Restaurant operations and was the wintering grounds for the famous Grand Canyon mules that took wide-eyed tourists down Bright Angel Trail. According to Grace Converse whose husband George managed the ranch for thirty years, seven to eight hundred tons of hay were produced annually with half of it going to the Grand Canyon to feed the dude and working stock. During the war when beef was rationed, the farm raised over 5,000 turkeys a year for the Harvey House eateries. The enterprise proved very successful and the railroad’s operation of the ranch continued into the 1950s. The Prescott Courier of Feb. 10, 1956, informed its readers: “Del Rio Ranch, original site of Fort Whipple, first semi-permanent location of government in the territory of Arizona and for many years the source of water for several northern Arizona towns including the Grand Canyon, will be sold by its present owner, the Santa Fe Railroad, this Spring.” The Del Rio Ranch passed back into private ownership and remains private land. There are plans for development on both sides of Hwy 89,