Ranch A is located along Sand Creek, south of Beulah in Crook County, Wyoming. Buildings within the district reflect two distinct operations: a lavish 1930s vacation retreat for Moses Annenberg, a wealthy newspaper publisher, and a 1960s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fish genetics laboratory. Annenberg hired a South Dakota architect to design the substantial rustic log buildings, and Finnish craftsmen worked with the logs and implemented the designs. The buildings constructed by government agencies for fish research purposes were built during the 1960s using artistic concrete block. The fishery operations created settling ponds, diversion channels, and other features that assisted their efforts.
The log buildings of Ranch A are some of the finest architect-designed buildings in Wyoming. Ray Ewing of South Dakota was hired by Moses Annenberg to execute the designs. The lodge, constructed in 1932, is a massive structure that abuts the north slope of the Sand Creek Canyon wall. In addition to the lodge, Annenberg had a garage/apartment constructed in the same style. A barn, hydroelectric plant, and a pump house were also built to service Annenberg, and the architect used a half timber motif on these utility buildings. Annenberg's interest in the area focused on fishing and hunting so he had the streams stocked with trout. Exotic animals were brought into the Sand Creek Valley, and a large game fence was built to keep the animals inside. The interior of Ranch A originally housed some of the finest rustic western furniture and accouterments that were manufactured in the West during the 1930s. Noted furniture designer Thomas Molesworth crafted the furniture that Annenberg purchased to furnish the lodge. Even the light fixtures were distinctive Molesworth creations.
Moses Annenberg was born in Prussia, immigrated to the United States, and lived in Chicago. His family was poor and Annenberg started selling newspapers at an early age. A very ambitious man, Annenberg ingratiated himself to William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate. Quickly Annenberg rose in the Hearst organization and Hearst moved Annenberg to Milwaukee. There Annenberg astutely invested in real estate and started his own businesses. In 1936 Annenberg purchased the prestigious newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer. By the late 1930s, Moses Annenberg was one of the richest men in America. Annenberg's business practices were scrutinized by the federal government and in 1940 he was convicted of income tax evasion and sent to prison in Lewisville, Pennsylvania. Annenberg died in 1941 and his heirs sold Ranch A the following year.
Governor Nels Smith with two partners bough Ranch A in 1942. For the next twenty years a variety of people owned Ranch A and used the property as a dude ranch. Ranch A was featured in ''National Geographic'' in 1956 as a western resort. Ranch A was not profitable as a dude ranch and in 1963 the federal government purchased the property for fish operations. The Fish and Wildlife Service constructed a fish genetics laboratory at Ranch A to study salmonid genetics. The laboratory was phased out beginning in 1979 and was replaced by the fish diet development center. During various periods, the lodge was used for offices and a laboratory was constructed in the basement. Ranch A is now owned by the State of Wyoming and managed by the Ranch A Restoration Foundation as an education center.