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Ox Ranch 1996-1997

Former owner:
Billingsley, Cecil
Burris, Bill
Former owners:
Grantham brothers
Garden consultant:
Nimitz, Joe
Physical description:
1 folder+ 13 35 mm. slides
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, Arizona, Yavapai County, Congress
Ox Ranch (Congress, Ariz.)
"The Ox Ranch is a working cattle ranch located in high desert terrain, that has been in operation for more than 130 years. It is comprised of 48,000 acres of a combination of private and public land leased from the state, with elevations that range from 3,000 to 6,000 feet. The headquarters of the ranch, where the garden is located, is in a remote valley."
"In the 1860's it was on the main wagon trail leading from the Colorado River to the interior of the Arizona Territory and it's capital in Prescott. The 1,000 gallon per minute spring and the two perennial streams which converge near the ranch headquarters made it an important stopping point for travelers - water being scarce and essential resource in desert climates."
"The abundance of petroglyphs attest to its use by Indian tribes, and from 1864-1875, the United States Army chose it as the location for Camp Date Creek. Indian attacks in the area made the presence of Army troops essential to the safety of miners and settlers as they traveled across the land."
"The first major horticulture endeavor known to occur in the area was the importation of watercress by Major General Corbusier, from the Hassayampa River located near the present town of Wickenburg, Arizona. The watercress thrived and a serious problem of scurvey was resolved. General Corbusier went on to become Surgeon General of the United States."
"The Ox Ranch has been recognized as good cattle country, and it is mentioned in numerous writings since the 1860's. A ten acre lake was constructed in the late 1800's to impound water from the spring to irrigate crops on the fields located at the headquarters."
"The Billingsley family owned the ranch for about 25 years starting in the 1940's and made notable improvements. At that time there was an active farming operation, an orchard, the owner's house was built and the garden was begun."
"The current owners are renovating the ranch buildings, replanted the orchard, undertook to plant hundreds of trees and put in a watering system to sustain them."
"Today, a fence keeps out cattle, horses, deer and javalina (wild pigs). A meandering path is composed of crushed granite lined with rocks from the adjacent desert and there are trees for shade, roses and perennials for color, a combination of drought tolerant and water thirsty plants to match the soil composition and the sun or shade exposures in different areas, and a vegetable and herb garden."
Persons associated with the property include: Cecil Billingsley (former owner from 1955 to approximately 1970); Bill Burris (former owner from approximately 1970 to 1980); Grantham Brothers (former owner from approximately 1980 to 1990); Joe Nimitz (garden consultant in 1990).
The folder includes plans, slide list, plant list, article, garden description and worksheet done by GCA researcher Joan Murphy.
Garden has been featured in Phoenix Home and Garden, August 1996
Local number:
Data Source:
Archives of American Gardens

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