What was once a million-acre cattle empire, could be the next big tourist attraction in New Mexico.
“It really must have been something,” said Alex Ocheltree, owner of Lyons and Campbell Ranch.
The story of the ranch starts back in the 1830s with a modest hacienda. In the 1880s, miners with dreams of being cattle ranchers started building what would become of their empire.
Tom Lyons and his partner Angus Campbell ultimately built up the property, in Gila, New Mexico, up to one million acres. It housed 75 cowboys, 100 working families, and 30,000 heads of cattle.
They turned the hacienda into a 60 room main home, decorated with truly opulent furnishings. The men also built their own church, saloon and jail.
“They even had a jail for them because we all know how the combination of cowboys and alcohol can be,” said Ocheltree.
The ranch’s foundation started to crumble in 1917 with the assassination of Lyons.
“It’s a 100-year-old crime and to this day we have no answers,” said Ocheltree.
All that is known is that a hired hit man carried out the murder, but no one knows why or who orchestrated it.
After Lyons’ death, people started moving away from the ranch. It was owned by multiple people throughout the next several decades, even briefly becoming a ‘hippie compound’ in the 1950s.
In the 60s, the Ocheltree family bought the property.
“We want to see it continue. We don’t want to see it fall back into ruins,” said Ocheltree.
They’ve spent decades restoring the ranch, and are now opening it up to the public. They’re offering tours and have some of the rooms available for guests.
“[We hope people] share the history and love the place as much as we do,” said Ocheltree.
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