University of Arizona

Special Collections is available by appointment. Read our update.

Records of the Empire Ranch

Photo of Horse

Empire Ranch is located on the East side of Tucson, AZ and was started by Walter L. Vail, becoming the largest ranching operation in Arizona. After partnering with Carrol W. Gates in 1876, the company expanded to California, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The headquarters were located in California. Chiricahua Ranches Company purchased the Empire Ranch operations in 1928.

This collection includes correspondence, legal documents, financial records, livestock records, and other materials relating to the history, development, and operation of ranch property in Southern Arizona and California. Also included are records of cattle companies associated with the Empire Ranch. Some ranches represented are Onyx Ranch, Bonita Ranch, El Dorado Ranch, Rosemont Ranch, Pantano Ranch, and Rancho Corral de Quati. Also present are land and mining papers including Arizona land patents, land grant materials, abstracts of titles, and papers relating to mines such as the Total Wreck Mine.