In 1854, William Huntington was sent by the Mormons to scout the Moab Valley and to stash equipmnet for the settlers who were to come the following year. This effort to colonize the Moab area by Mormons failed due to troubles with Indians. (See “Ill Fated Elk Mountain Mission“here.)
There are several good flowing springs above the ranch and Indians spent time here as the combination of water, grass and game made it an ideal camp. Evidence of their time here can be seen in the large number of chipping areas, occasional arrowheads and grinding stones.
Before Pack Creek was settled several trappers were chased into the valley by Incians. In an effort to lighten their load and increase their odds of escape, they removed the packs from their horses and hid them along the creek. They escaped but the Indians got the goods and the creek became known as Pack Creek.
Late in the 1800’s, settlers began homesteading in the drainage. From then into the late 1930’s pioneers raised cattle and sheep. In the late 1930’s, all of the privately owned property in the drainage was purchased by Mr. Provonsha. At one point, he owned most of the land surrounding South Mountain. He was primarily a sheep man.
In the 1940’s, the Mussleman family bought the ranch. In addition to running cattle, they built most of the present cabins and took “city slickers” in as guests. Several cabins were leased for 50 years; the property the Ranch House is on was leased to Dr. Brownell from California. He built the Ranch House and the swimming pool for summer family use.
Late in the 1940’s or early 1950’s, Grandfather Musselman had a heart attack and was not strong enough to continue to work on the ranch. Much to the distress of his family, he put the ranch up for sale. Dr. Brownell was concerned about the future of the property so he bought the ranch and continued to operate it as a guest ranch but did not keep the cattle. After an early unsuccessful partnership and sale, he turned the operation over to his son and duaghter-in-law. Steve Brownell had a degree in agriculture and was interested in raising hay and cattle. After losing money on the “dude ranch” part of the operation they turned to full time ranching.
In 1974, Dr. Brownell sold the ranch to a group of investors made up of five families. That partnership lasted only a year so the cabins were rented long term while the ranch was offered for sale.
In 1986, Ken and Jane Sleight formed a limited partnership and purchased the ranch. Althought the property was badly run down, they saw the the potential. What you see today is the result of years of sweat equity and over a million dollars worth of labor and materials.
For more information on Moab history, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moab,_Utah