‘Centennial Ranches’ recognizedWritten by Christy Hemken
Ceremony celebrates industry’s longevity
Douglas – Wyoming’s top dignitaries came together Aug. 16 to recognize some of Wyoming’s oldest ranches through the “Wyoming Centennial Farm & Ranch Program.”
The Wyoming Centennial Farm and Ranch Program, re-established by the State Historic Preservation Office in 2006, honors families that have owned and operated the same farm or ranch for 100 years or more.
Wyoming Rural Electric Association (WREA) Executive Director Shawn Taylor said his organization is proud to be a sponsor in the project. He said it’s always fun to visit with Wyoming’s ranch families and hear stories about “the day the lights came on.” The history of the WREA and that of Wyoming’s ranching families, said Taylor, go hand-in-hand.
Looking back to his days running a shoe store in Gillette, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi said it was the consistency of the agricultural community that kept his store in business. Wyoming agriculture was among the state’s first businesses and ever since has annually made a contribution to the state’s economic well being.
U.S. Senator John Barrasso noted the presence of two U.S. Senators and the Governor at the event stood as testament to just how important the agricultural industry is to Wyoming.
Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal applauded those in attendance for their family’s longevity in the business, but also thanked them for their role as caretakers of the state’s resources. “Living with the land is different than living on the land,” said Freudenthal, noting this as a trait learned by those who’ve made it so long on the land. “This is a remarkable place we live in.”
Honorees at the event were as follows:
• The Charles Bruner Family from the Bruner Ranch established in Converse County in 1902.
• Gerald and Patsy Bunney from the Bunney Ranch established near Aladdin in Crook County in 1884.
• Robert (dec.) and Peggy Collins; Jay and Larry Collins from the Collins Farm and Ranch established in 1908 near Glendo in Platte County.
• Roger Hunter and Lynn Hunter Ainsworth from the Raymond Hunter Farm and Ranch established in 1907 near Torrington in Goshen County.
• Kenneth and Betty King from the King Cattle Co. established in 1908 near Burns in Laramie County.
• Charles and Mary Alice Amend Engebretsen of the Lost Springs Ranch established near Lost Springs in Niobrara County in 1908.
• Ron and Bette Lu Lerwick from the Homestead Acres established in 1908 near Albin in Laramie County.
• Clarence Lowham from the Lowham Ranch Limited Partnership established in 1900 in Uinta County.
• The Jerry McWilliams Family Homestead Farms established in 1908 near Cheyenne in Laramie County.
• Jim and Deb Meng from the Meng Ranch established in 1908 near Lusk in Niobrara County.
• Billie Jean Beaton and the Frank Shepperson Family of the Teapot Ranch established in 1903 near Midwest in Natrona County.
• The Frank Shepperson Family of the Shepperson Ranch established in 1903 near Midwest in Natrona County.
• The William Thoren Family of the Quien Sabe Ranch established in 1907 near Shoshoni in Fremont County.
• The West Family of the West Cross V Ranch established in 1905 near Oshoto in Crook County.
• The Wilson Family of Alta Land and Livestock established in 1892 near Alta in Teton County.
• The Sedgwick-Wilson Family of the Wilson Ranch established in 1908 in Niobrara County.
• The Wright Family from the Wright Ranch established in 1908 near Lost Springs in Converse County.
• Gary and JoAnn Zakotnik of the GZ Ranch established in 1908 near Eden in Sweetwater County.
At the Aug. 16 ceremony Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Director Milward Simpson said a book detailing the history of honored ranches will be compiled.
Project partners include the Wyoming State Historical Preservation Office, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, the Wyoming Stock Growers, the Wyoming Wool Growers, the WREA, the Wyoming Business Council and Mountain West Farm Bureau.