History of the R-C Scout Ranch
In days of old when men were bold, there existed a heaven on earth known as the R-C Scout Ranches. It was originally manned by Explorer Scouts that paid fifteen dollars to the Council for the privilege of working all summer at the three ranches.
Boy Scouting in Arizona has a long history in the area around the R-C Scout Ranch. In 1931, the Roosevelt Council held an option to purchase Kohl’s Ranch, about 5 miles east of R–C, but the option was not taken up.
In December of 1939, the Council sponsored a mountain lion hunt in the area. The hunt was lead by Edd Haught, who became the first Ranch Foreman (Ranger) at the R–C Scout Ranch in 1945.
In 1944, the initial campaign to raise funds to purchase the R–C Scout Ranches was begun, with the purchase of the three properties completed in 1945. Final land transfer was not completed until 1954, due to the property being purchased as an active Homestead.
The property now known as R–C Scout Ranch was R–C Ranch #1 and is located five miles east of Kohl’s Ranch. R–C Ranch #2 was located about 5 miles south east of R-C Ranch #1 along what is now highway 260. R–C Ranch #3 was located five miles east of R-C Ranch #2 on the Chamberlin Trail (road).
In these years, the entire area was very remote. The principal highway was narrow, two-lane and unpaved, not dissimilar to the poorer sections of today’s Control Road west of Tonto Village. The trip from Phoenix was a full day and sometimes longer. In 1947, R-C staff members were transported from Phoenix to Camp Geronimo via bus provided by Sun Valley Bus Lines. The bus had wooden spoke wheels and the bus top was canvas. The trip started at Scout Headquarters at 8:00 AM; lunched at Sun Flower and arrived at Camp Geronimo at 4:00 PM.
Immediately after the purchase was complete, work began on developing R–C Scout Ranch #1 as the principal property. The intent was to have R–C Ranch #1 serve as a supply source for the nearby Camp Geronimo. The location of Camp Geronimo was across the dirt road (260) from Kohl’s Ranch for many years
A council-operated sawmill on R–C Ranch #3 cut over 50,000 board feet of lumber in 1945 to furnish materials for new construction at R–C Ranch #1. Over the next two years, this lumber and much more was used in the construction of a ranch foreman’s house, a cow barn, horse barn, machinery shed and fencing.
In the next few years, additional buildings were added. These included a chicken house, a dining hall and the Kiwanis cabin.
The Roosevelt Council President for 1946 and 1947 was C. E. Van Ness. In 1946, construction of a Scouter`s lodge was begun with funding provided by Mr. Van Ness. In 1947, the Council Board of Directors voted to rename the building as the Van Ness Lodge.
The lodge was constructed of native stone and large Ponderosa pine logs cut by the Civil Conservation Corps at Indian Gardens, west of Kohl’s Ranch. The lodge remains today one of the property’s premier buildings, and qualifies as a “historic building” due to the source of materials and type of construction.
The name of R-C Scout Ranch #2 was changed to Camp Wipala Wiki in the early to mid 1970’s. This property was then sold to a private developer in 1983. It is now known as the Hunter Creek Ranch properties.
R-C Ranch #3 was sold in 1969 and the monies from the sale were used to purchase the Whiting Scouting Reservation in 1970.
Many of the R–C Scout Ranch buildings constructed in the late 1940’s are still in use. The large barns now serve as maintenance and storage facilities.
The two smaller buildings on the west side of the current pasture area along Christopher Creek are among the original buildings. The larger building to the south was originally built as a cow barn and has served as a horse stable for over 25 years. The smaller building to the north has been recently renovated and equipped with picnic tables.
This building originally served as a slaughter house for the ranch cattle. For several years, R–C Scout Ranch provided beef each week to the nearby Camp Geronimo. Similarly, chickens were raised and supplied for the campers. The Council had several hundred head of beef grazing between the three ranches. This herd was managed, branded, slaughtered and butchered by Explorer Scouts. “R-C” (R and C connected by the bar) is, in fact, a registered brand in Arizona and was used on the cattle. “R-C” is the cowboy way of saying Roosevelt Council, the name of the Council at the time of the Scout Ranch’s establishment.
The chicken house is no longer in existence, but the foundations can be seen to the east of the current ranger’s house.
The foundation of the original dining hall can also be seen in campsite 6, where they serve as a camp fire site and an excellent place to gather after dark.
The foreman’s original house only remains in memories. Its foundation is on the south side of Christopher Creek. Edd Haught’s daughter used to tell the story about how her mother had to clean snow off the top of the wood stove in order to build a fire for cooking breakfast.
The ranger during these early years was Edd Haught, pronounced “Haw-tt”. The Haught family were among the earliest residents of the area, and were famed as hunters. Edd Haught’s father, Babe, was especially known for his pack of bear-hunting dogs. He was also known as the “Bear Man” and was the reason that the author Zane Grey came into the area. (A sideline note: the original first cabin used by Zane Grey still stands today, and is owned by a Scouting family. It is the old metal roofed home on the north side of the road at the east entrance of Tonto Village. - the original home was burned during the Dude Fire in the early 1990`s)
There are many stories of the elder Haught during the 1920’s. During this time, he was contracted by the author Zane Grey to construct a cabin under the Mogollon Rim. The cabin provided the remoteness that Grey required to write his novels and stories. The area from Payson to Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff and east was the locale of many of Grey’s most popular books. After the cabin’s construction, Haught and his five sons contracted to Grey for many hunting and camping trips throughout northern Arizona.
One of those sons was Edd. Edd Haught spent many years supporting Scouting before becoming R–C Scout Ranch Ranger in 1945. He served until his accidental death in 1952. In 1954, a stone memorial with bronze plague was dedicated to Edd Haught and constructed near the entrance to R–C Scout Ranch. That memorial is often the first thing a visitor sees when entering the camp.
The Council joined with the American Cancer Society of Arizona in 1987 to adapt R–C Scout Ranch for use by children with cancer during the month of July.
Called Camp Sunrise, the month of July sees many children enjoying themselves in the pine trees. Because of their illness, any of these children would not be able to have a camping experience anywhere else.
Over the succeeding years, the American Cancer Society has assisted greatly in the development of R–C Scout Ranch. The Anne N. Forsman Dining Hall and Camp Sunrise Cabins were dedicated on July 15, 1989 with Erma Bombeck in attendance. She and her husband donated, through the American Cancer Society, the cost of building Sleeper Cabin #4. The Anne Forsman Foundation provided all the funds for building the dining hall and the separate rest room building. The Directors Cabin, Kevin’s Lodge and the first six sleeper cabins were all built with funds provided by the American Cancer Society. They also provided the funds for the construction of the well house and the new 4” water line that goes from the well to the dining hall
Additional multi-bunk cabins have been built, including one in 2003 and another in 2004. The American Cancer Society completed an excellent health lodge, named Kevin’s Lodge, in 2002. This cabin was built and donated by a valley contractor in memory of one their employees that succumbed to cancer.