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  • Desert Caballeros Ride (From 1951 Ride Book)

    Desert Caballeros Ride

    (From 1951 Ride Book)

    Wickenburg, “dude ranch capital of the world,” was at its gayest on the afternoon of Wednesday. March 26, 1947.

    Everyone—natives and winter visitors—were crowded on picturesque Frontier Street, dressed in their Western best and eagerly watching the ceremonies in which 75 horsemen were participating

    Leo Carillo, the movie actor was there, and a number of the nation’s top industrialists, all garbed in typical cowboy costume, boots, chaps and all. A priest said a prayer, a flag ceremony was held, and then, with Carillo and President Rush C. Smith leading the way, the Desert Caballeros started on their first ride.

    But that really wasn’t the beginning. It all began a few months earlier when half a dozen Wickenburg residents conceived the idea of a three or four-day ride into the picturesque and historical country surrounding Wickenburg.
    From that first meeting an organization was formed, and invitations sent out Fifty-two men quickly grabbed the opportunity to become charter members, and an organization was set up with Smith as president; Gene Francis as executive secretary and a governing board of directors of 15 members.

    From then on, there was plenty of work to do. Committees were appointed, invitations sent out and work begun on selecting a route, trails and camp sites for the event.

    The country through which the ride was to be held formerly was Apache country, the stomping ground of the ferocious Geronimo. Trails were there, but no cowboys could be found who knew them, so three of the embryo Caballeros, Smith, Bob White and Steve Hambough, packed saddle bags, mounted and set out to map the trails for the ride.

    Thus it was that the 75 riders in 1947 were able to travel 103 miles through country which is best described by quoting from a history of that first ride, written by Hal Warner, a member of the Board of Directors.

    “Through desert sands,” wrote Mr. Warner, “covered with mesquite, cat claw, saguaro, ocotillo, barrel cactus and other desert flora too numerous to mention, up dry wash canyons from whose parched sands bubbling springs appeared suddenly and unexpectedly in the most amazing places. Passing through Box Canyon whose precipitous, multi-colored walls stretch high into the heavens, offering shade and a place to rest to the unbelieving and awe stricken visitors. Up over the Weaver and Bradshaw mountains, past the Oro Grande mine, on up the Hassayampa River through Fools Canyon, by Slim Jim Creek, near Wades Butte, covered with cyprus and pine, to the DiamOnd 2 and Cooper ranches – everywhere a panorama of changing colors which caused the spectators to marvel at the glory which Arizona skies portray. On to hot springs bubbling and smoking as they gush from the rocks into pools in which the riders bathed their aching muscles and washed away the accumulated dust from the long trek for behind.”

    That was the first ride. In the three rides that have followed, the organization has grown, camp sites have been improved, the ride has been lengthened and the route changed somewhat.

    But the night in bed rolls under the Arizona stars, the marvelous food and menus fit for a king rather than a camper, the evenings of songs and stories and fun around the campfire, and the good fellowship all have remained the same—so much so that the 75 riders who made that first ride, now have grown to 150 and more than 20 states will be represented in the group who leave for the fifth annual ride this April.

  • Arizona Highways Magazine (March 1952)

    Arizona Highways Magazine

    (March 1952)

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