History of the Ranch


Col. Sliney established the Padlock Ranch as a cattle operation of 75,000 acres.


The great blizzard and freeze swept through Wyoming. Snow started falling in September 1887 and did not stop until March 1888. Sliney said he could walk to Thermopolis on the bones of dead cattle. In the Spring of 1888, Rothwell became a new partner of the ranch bringing 8,000 sheep to the Padlock Ranch, and the Padlock became a sheep operation.


Rothwell had an impressive barn built to raise draft horses. Experienced German barn builders used superior construction methods. The Rothwell barn has been used every day for 114 years and is as structurally sound as the day it was built.


A dry goods freight company from Colorado and a railroad and sheep baron from Montana became part owners of the Padlock Ranch with Lee Simonsen, who would be the partner to operate the ranch.


Simonsen continued to breed and train Percheron Draft Horses to remedy the poorly built new tractors “rusting in the fields.” The mansion would be built in the style of an Italian Villa. The sheep operation continued, and around this time, the Padlock Ranch was the largest sheep operation in Wyoming.


The Stock market crash caused the Padlock Ranch to go into bank receivership for 12 years.


The Northern Arapaho Tribe purchases the Padlock Ranch with Economic Development funds from the Federal Government. The sale included 7 additional ranches, adding up to 350,000 acres. The cattle operation began with the Arapaho Tribe, and the ranch was renamed the Arapaho Ranch, legally known as the Northern Arapahoe Ranch.


The Arapaho Ranch was the largest organic beef producer in North America. They now raise grass-fed, non-hormonal beef.


The Arapaho Ranch is 450,000 acres as the tribe continues to purchase land. The ranch has 5,000 heifers and is growing the herd.



More posts about the rich history of the Arapaho Ranch Field Station are right this way.