Heber History
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Brian

Costa Mesa, CA

#1 May 29, 2007
As a boy, back in 1963 or so, I spent a month at a summer camp outside of Heber, around Aripine. It was a working horse and cattle ranch called, I think, the Sunset or Sunrise Ranch. Does anyone have a recollection of this place or know whether it still exists?
Sue

United States

#2 Sep 11, 2007
While researching history on Aripine AZ, I came across your posting and I also came across the name of the Ranch. You may have already heard back from others who knew the name but what I found was "SUNDOWN RANCHES" which was owned by Theodore and Mary Turley back in the early 1900s. It was a working cattle ranch. There is a book out called SUNDOWN RANCHES ARIPINE ARIZONA, put out by Legend Express Publishing which you can order by mail at 3831 E. Clovis Ave-Mesa, AZ 85206.
Ned

Buffalo, NY

#3 Sep 23, 2007
I was at Sundown Ranch in 1967 and 1969 when Earl and Ralph Shelley ran it. It was a wonderful experience. 15 years ago I visited with Earl and Ralph at their home in Chandler. They said in 1970 and 1971 they had a lot of trouble with drug use among the senior campers.(I remember there was some trouble in 1969.) One camper actually came down with hepatitis in 1971, was flown to a hospital and eventually died. That was the end of the boys' ranch; the Shelley's had had enough.

I then drove to Heber and met up with Earl's son, Dennis Shelley, who worked at the ranch when I was there. He had a wife and kids and worked as a logger. He warned me that I would find the buildings in disrepair, which they were. But it was still cool to see the place after so long; so beautiful and lots of fond memories.

Anyone know what the status of the ranch is today? Does the Turley family still own it?
Nancy Warren

Lees Summit, MO

#4 Oct 24, 2007
I was at the Sundown Ranch around 1957-58. It was owned then by Alma Bigler. It was an all girls camp in the summer, managed by a couple from New York. We girls came from New York and Chicago. I had the best time, went for two summers, rode a horse called Red. We spent most of the time riding which was just fine with me as I was a horse crazy teenager at the time. I also had a fierce crush on a local Morman boy, Billy Beecroft. I have no idea what has become of the ranch but sure would like to know. Maybe someday I'll get back up there.
Brian

Downey, CA

#5 Nov 28, 2007
Thank you all for the feedback and memories of the Sundown Ranch - I was there during the Shelley's tenure and Dennis was there as well. I recall Earl giving Dennis an earful for leaving a live round in his .22, propped against the door of their house. One of the most memorable things we did that summer was a five or six day cross-country ride to deliver horses to the Park Service at the Grand Canyon. We came across old ranch and bunkhouses in the middle of nowhere, full of old artifacts, household goods and "stuff". Long gone by now I suspect. We rode and slept through rain and passed through virgin forests and meadows - very beautiful I feel so fortunate to have had that experience which would impossible to duplicate today. There were kids from all over the state; in fact, I was one of only a couple of kids from Arizona. A real taste of the real West. Thanks to all.

Since: Aug 07

Glendale, AZ

#6 Nov 30, 2007
man that is awesome I wish all of you could get together and put down your stories of this place for future generations to read, for me it would be a wonderful book.
Sandy Maliga

Los Angeles, CA

#7 Mar 12, 2008
Nancy Warren wrote:
I was at the Sundown Ranch around 1957-58. It was owned then by Alma Bigler. It was an all girls camp in the summer, managed by a couple from New York. We girls came from New York and Chicago. I had the best time, went for two summers, rode a horse called Red. We spent most of the time riding which was just fine with me as I was a horse crazy teenager at the time. I also had a fierce crush on a local Morman boy, Billy Beecroft. I have no idea what has become of the ranch but sure would like to know. Maybe someday I'll get back up there.
Hi Nancy-- I enjoyed four summers at Sundown Ranch 1957-1960. We must have been there together. My horses were Spice, Taffy ( a palomino!) and Bimbo, a colt. Really enjoyed knowing Almy, Dorothy and all the Biglers. Do you remember ' Cheesie" Kraft and her flirtation with "Little John"?( and mine with his brothe -- maybe Walter? I worried about the ranch when the big fires burned in that area a few years ago. Wanted to start a collection but didn't find anyone on the web. I am in LA now.- Sandy (nee Prutting)
Robert Rosenthal

Los Angeles, CA

#8 May 6, 2008
My God, I thought I would never find anyone who went to Sundown. Hi Nancy!!! I remember so many things about the ranch. The best three years of my life. I could write a book.
One thing I do know - Never go back. I was in the AZ area and got in touch with Alma's son. He said Do Not Go Back. Live with the meories so I do.
Plenty of pictures though.
Nancy Warren wrote:
I was at the Sundown Ranch around 1957-58. It was owned then by Alma Bigler. It was an all girls camp in the summer, managed by a couple from New York. We girls came from New York and Chicago. I had the best time, went for two summers, rode a horse called Red. We spent most of the time riding which was just fine with me as I was a horse crazy teenager at the time. I also had a fierce crush on a local Morman boy, Billy Beecroft. I have no idea what has become of the ranch but sure would like to know. Maybe someday I'll get back up there.
Lewis Kaye

United States

#9 Jun 24, 2008
I was at the Sundown ranch in 1947-1949. There were 2 actually. One for boys amd one for girls about 4 miles apart. One of the greatest experiences of my life. Primitive but great. Boys camp closed bur girls camp remained. I knew Alma Bigler well. E.mail me if anybody wants more facts.
lewis [email protected]
ellie dameshek reichlin

Sahuarita, AZ

#10 Jun 7, 2009
i went to Sundown ranch [the girl's part]for 2 summers, 1945 and 1946. The experience changed my life forever, releasing me from the confines of a Boston suburb, and opening up new natural and cultural vistas which I'd never dreamed of. The riding was less important to me than the openess of the scenery and the Turleys [who then still owned it, Barr and Grace, Lavon and Verna] and the Mormon community of Snowflake. The trip to the Hopi mesas through the Navaho reservation set my college path, where I majored in anthropology, and later spent a summer at a Quaker "work camp" on the reservation, 1948. From then on, it was a sure thing that I'd return to live in Arizona some day.

I've gone back to the ranch a couple of times, first in the 1980s with my best friend, now deceased, Anne Wechsler when we also visited with Lavon and Verna or is it Vellma in Snowflake. Then my husband and I moved to Tucson in 1991, a move which brought us closer to Aripine than we'd been in Boston. We visited there in 2007 when we met a number of the Biglers who still maintain places there and who were very cordial about showing us around. On this visit my oldest son, now 57, accompanied us, and he was pretty impressed by where his old mother had been as a teenager--Whether there are still former campers of my vintage, I don't know, but I would love to hear from them. My email is [email protected] We moved to a retirement community in Green Valley 2 years ago, but prior to that, we lived on a former cattle ranch, adjoining Sahuaro National Park East in Tucson where I could relive the image of the "west" as I first encountered it in the summers of 1945 and 1846.. Too bad so much has changed, though there are still pockets of openess [scenic and cultural] that I continue to treasure.
Art Levin

New York, NY

#11 Oct 13, 2009
Wow. I was a Sundown in summers of 1952-53 or thereabouts. Two camps, one boys, one girls. Second year there was a case of polio at the girls camp and we were all sent home early as a precaution. A good friend of mine from NYC who was also at the camp was hospitalized about a week after our return to NYC and died. I think he was the only fatality - the girl recovered.

When I was there I think the Shelleys or at least Ralph was a counselor/ranch hand.

I got there through Bill Kurtz who was a gym instructor at the Fieldston School in New York (which I attended) and who was involved in the operation at the marketing end.

Those were two incredible summers. I have had no desire to go back - not when Google map tells me Heber is a subdivision looking community. I remember riding to Heber which was little more than a PO, gas station/garage and small store where we pigged out on candy.

While I had learned to ride English previous to Sundown, I certainly had never broken, shod a horse or roped, branded, castrated and wormed cattle before! I remember those long trail rides, thirsty as hell and Ralph giving us little pieces of tar to chew on to get our salivary glands working.

I can still see the bunk houses, the wash house with its windmill well, clearly in my mind. Great memories - not to be erased by "progress."
Bill MacKinnon

United States

#12 Jul 4, 2010
A friend of mine, Howard Chase, was at Sundown during the summers of 1950-1952 from New Jersey and would like to know what became of Alma Bigler. If anyone has info or remembers Howard from those summers, please contact me at [email protected]
Penny Pfaelzer

Phoenix, AZ

#13 Aug 14, 2010
I was at Sundown Ranch for two summers when it was an all girls camp -- 1959 and 1960. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and every several years I go back to the ranch to check it out. We did last week and ran into Bill Bigler, Alma and Dorothy's son. He lives on the property with sister Dottie. Charlie is in Canada and Janet lives in Clay Springs. Got all caught up. I remember when we girls were ferried up to Salt Lake City in cattle trucks and how we went into Heber each week for the dance at the Mormon Church. I had a boy friend at the time, Larry Reidhead my second year, Delbert Nichols my first. Those were wonderful, innocent years. Some of my memories include Taffy my horse, my friends Marilyn Church and Gloria Kram, and the Bigler family that welcomed us each year with open arms. What great great memories.
alfa reidhead

Taylor, AZ

#14 Sep 6, 2010
like to hear about heber more i would also like to know if anybody knows where is donna baker sh was afreind of mine back in the 60,s
Penny Pfaelzer

France

#15 Sep 6, 2010
Sandy Maliga wrote:
<quoted text>
Hi Nancy-- I enjoyed four summers at Sundown Ranch 1957-1960. We must have been there together. My horses were Spice, Taffy ( a palomino!) and Bimbo, a colt. Really enjoyed knowing Almy, Dorothy and all the Biglers. Do you remember ' Cheesie" Kraft and her flirtation with "Little John"?( and mine with his brothe -- maybe Walter? I worried about the ranch when the big fires burned in that area a few years ago. Wanted to start a collection but didn't find anyone on the web. I am in LA now.- Sandy (nee Prutting)
Oh my goodness, Taffy was MY horse, too. In fact, I had a sign over my bed in the cabin that said, "Penny+Taffy+Larry. I had a crush on a local boy named Larry Reidhead. The ranch didn't burn during the fires a few years ago. In fact, Dottie and Bill still live there. You were probably there when I was there!
Richard

Saint Paul, MN

#16 Mar 25, 2011
I was there 65-66 when the Shelleys ran it. Wonderful memories that last a lifetime. The boys were well behaved, it's a shame things went downhill after that, but I imagine rising costs and insurance issues would have taken their toll in time. So glad it existed for us.
Gil

Coral Gables, FL

#17 Jun 13, 2011
I remember Ned.

I was there from 68-70 and it was a wonderful experience for me. I do remember a small but quite limited issue of drugs. I had no idea that the boy who got hepatitis ( in 1970) died - how sad. What a shame that the ranch closed. The Shelleys were great people and kind and understand. I remember watching the moon landing and many wonderful discussions with Mrs. Shelley. BTW - I rode old Bimbo and Thunder and my colt was Velvet.

I was also the editor of the Sundown Wrangler with Debbie Shelley in 1970.
Robert Rosenthal

Los Angeles, CA

#18 Aug 4, 2011
Brian wrote:
As a boy, back in 1963 or so, I spent a month at a summer camp outside of Heber, around Aripine. It was a working horse and cattle ranch called, I think, the Sunset or Sunrise Ranch. Does anyone have a recollection of this place or know whether it still exists?
You were at the greatest Summer place in the Country!! Sundown Ranch in Aripine Arizona. I've still got the pictures I took when I was there. Alma Bigler, since passed, was the person who ran it and his family is scattered around Arizona and Canada.
Penny Pfaelzer

Korea

#19 Aug 4, 2011
Robert Rosenthal wrote:
<quoted text>
You were at the greatest Summer place in the Country!! Sundown Ranch in Aripine Arizona. I've still got the pictures I took when I was there. Alma Bigler, since passed, was the person who ran it and his family is scattered around Arizona and Canada.
Can you please post those photos. that would be so cool to see them!
Robert Rosenthal

Los Angeles, CA

#20 Nov 1, 2011
Art Levin wrote:
Wow. I was a Sundown in summers of 1952-53 or thereabouts. Two camps, one boys, one girls. Second year there was a case of polio at the girls camp and we were all sent home early as a precaution. A good friend of mine from NYC who was also at the camp was hospitalized about a week after our return to NYC and died. I think he was the only fatality - the girl recovered.
When I was there I think the Shelleys or at least Ralph was a counselor/ranch hand.
I got there through Bill Kurtz who was a gym instructor at the Fieldston School in New York (which I attended) and who was involved in the operation at the marketing end.
Those were two incredible summers. I have had no desire to go back - not when Google map tells me Heber is a subdivision looking community. I remember riding to Heber which was little more than a PO, gas station/garage and small store where we pigged out on candy.
While I had learned to ride English previous to Sundown, I certainly had never broken, shod a horse or roped, branded, castrated and wormed cattle before! I remember those long trail rides, thirsty as hell and Ralph giving us little pieces of tar to chew on to get our salivary glands working.
I can still see the bunk houses, the wash house with its windmill well, clearly in my mind. Great memories - not to be erased by "progress."
Art, we were at Sundown the same time. I even recall you. Steve Segal, a long time friend of mine was there also. He just passed on. I have wanted to go back but haven't been able to. I did friend Alma's daughter in Law from Canada so I got brought up on the ranch.
Were you there when some kid lost his fingers in a roping accident?
I have a few pictures. If someone would direct me to how to upload them I will.
Regards!

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