Branded | Maggie Creek Ranch

This Great Basin ranch is a leader in modern stewardship.
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This Great Basin ranch is a leader in modern stewardship.
Credit: John Griggs; Jennifer Whiteley

Credit: John Griggs; Jennifer Whiteley

No one’s quite sure of the exact date, but sometime in the late 1800s, two men raised as brothers—George Hunter and George Banks—founded what today is called the Maggie Creek Ranch.

Located southwest of Elko, Nev., Hunter and Banks built a large barn that still stands today. Maggie Creek Ranch calls their headquarters the Hunter and Banks and honors the ranch’s founders by maintaining their names emblazoned on the barn. 

The ranch has had several owners, most notably Charles and Marcela Howard, who owned legendary racehorse Seabiscuit. The Howards ran the ranch from 1942 to 1946, though “I don’t think ’Biscuit was ever here,” says ranch manager Jon Griggs. 

After the Howards, the ranch continued to change hands and sizes until William Searle purchased it in 1975. Searle passed in 2004, but his family continues active ownership of the ranch. 

“Over the years, they’ve made a few exchanges with neighbors and BLM to block it up,” Griggs says. “But really, it’s been the ranch it is now for the 40 years since the Searles have owned it.”

The brand, the Horseshoe Bar, came from an early land trade.

“Maggie Creek was combined with a ranch to the west of the headquarters called the Horseshoe Ranch,” Griggs explains. “That’s where we got the brand—the Horseshoe Bar with the heels down. That ranch is now called the Muleshoe.”

Today, the brand stands for the 200,000-plus acres of public and private ground the ranch runs on. And the Searle family and Griggs have made a name for the ranch in conservation and stewardship circles. In 2015, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association named Maggie Creek Ranch one of its Regional Environmental Stewardship Award winners. 

“I think we got there because of our partnerships—the collaborations we’ve done with several agencies, most notably the BLM,” Griggs says. “We’ve enjoyed pretty decent relationships with the BLM and have collaborated to do some good work on some of the riparian habitat we have on the ranch.”

Maggie Creek has also partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, Trout Unlimited, and their neighbors to participate in a watershed-wide conservation effort.

Credit: John Griggs; Jennifer Whiteley

Credit: John Griggs; Jennifer Whiteley