The mountain ranges of the eastern Mojave Desert produced abundant mineral wealth. A mining boom in the 1800s sparked demand for cattle, in part, to feed miners, mining operations, and emerging communities. Large ranching operations began to spread across the vast open desert. Soon railroad lines appeared with rail cars carrying supplies; hauling ores from mines to mills and smelters; and adding to the wealth of an already burgeoning community.

In the late 1800s, Southern Nevada was booming with people looking to find their fortune in gold and silver. The Rock Springs Land & Cattle Company responded to the need for food and other resources. The operation quickly grew to cover one million acres of grazing land in Southern Nevada.Unidentified people and cowboys on horseback at Walking Box Ranch

In 1927, Rock Springs sold off its interests and several smaller ranches were formed. The southern portion of the dismantled ranch became the Woolf Ranch. In 1931, John Woolf sold his ranch to movie star, Rex Bell. Bell and his famous wife, Clara Bow, named the property Walking Box Ranch, and they operated a cattle ranch on it for over a decade. The Walking Box brand was originally the “Box K” brand. Rex turned the brand on its side and renamed it Walking Box. In 1950, Walking Box Ranch was sold to Karl Weikel who renamed his property YKL Ranch. Karl and his family continued cattle ranching throughout their ownership, which spanned four decades.

In 1990, Viceroy Gold Corporation purchased the ranch to serve as a corporate retreat and for access to its nearby Castle Mountain mine. The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which had been negotiating to purchase the ranch prior to the Viceroy Gold Corporation’s ownership, purchased the surrounding Crescent Peak allotment water rights and grazing permits from Viceroy. This purchase initiated the Clark County Desert Tortoise Habitat Conservation Plan, a landmark mitigation agreement developed by TNC and other conservation partners to assure the preservation of the desert tortoise. TNC also became the holder of conservation easements to preserve and protect in perpetuity the natural, historic, scenic, and open space features and values of the Walking Box Ranch property.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acquired the ranch in 2005. At that time, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas – Public Lands Institute (UNLV-PLI) entered into a cooperative management agreement with BLM and became the manager of the ranch.

Today, Walking Box Ranch is a destination for visitors, scholars, students, and scientists. As partners, the BLM and UNLV-PLI have preserved and protected this historic landmark so it can serve as a bridge between people and the rich cultural and natural heritage of the Mojave Desert.

Information provided by: UNLV Public Land Institute