National Register of Historic Places

T Cross Ranch

Near Dubois

Date Added to Register

Friday, April 11, 2008

Smithsonian Number

48FR5770

Read all about it

T Cross Ranch is a well-preserved example of a late 19th century dude ranch. The engineering, construction techniques, and materials contribute to the historical context of the district’s architecture. As a uniquely American form of recreation, the dude or guest ranch arose late in the 19th century. The dude ranch concept reached its peak between the 1930s and the 1950s, with a brief downturn during World War II. Since then, several factors have combined to cause many historic dude ranches to close over time. In the Dubois area, however, T Cross and a few others have endured and thrived by offering a traditional, classic dude ranch experience.

The T Cross Ranch Rural Historic District is situated in a subalpine valley at 7800 feet within the Horse Creek watershed of the Absaroka Mountains. Horse Creek bisects the 160-acre homestead, which lies within the Shoshone National Forest at the edge of the largest roadless area in the lower 48 states. The District is 15 miles north of the town of Dubois and 2 miles south of the Washakie Wilderness area.

The contributing buildings, structures, sites, and objects date from 1919 to 1946, with the exception of a simple cabin built by the first but unsuccessful homesteader, Ernest O. Hadden. T Cross Ranch buildings are concentrated in the northwest quadrant of the District, placed on a north/south axis facing east toward two large pastures straddling Horse Creek. The Lodge and cabins are concentrated to the north end of this axis and the barns and corrals to the south end. Staff quarters are interspersed among other buildings from the Lodge to the Long Shed

Most of the log buildings are representative of the Rocky Mountain cabin style [Preservation Briefs No. 26. p. 4]. This is a regional adaptation of traditional log buildings suited to the heavy snowfalls of the mountains. Doorways are recessed under the eaves of extended gabled roofs and open onto wide porches, which in some cases are walled on the ends. Thus doorways, any flanking windows, and occupants are protected from falling and drifting snow and from ice sliding off the roofs. The ubiquitous use of purlins for the porch roofs reflects Scandinavian construction, perhaps due to the ethnicity of the two Swedish hands hired by Seipt. With the exception of the Lodge and Ranch Office, all cabins face east and their rear elevations are to the west — the direction from which most storms come. The east-facing porches capture the warming rays of the morning sun as it climbs above the 10,000-foot Elkhorn Ridge.

The T Cross Ranch Rural Historic District’s period of significance extends from 1918 to 1957. The District was permanently settled in 1918 when German immigrant and naturalized citizen Henry Seipt claimed it as a homestead, named it The Hermitage, and moved his family there. He began building structures to support recreational activities and operated the property as a hunting and fishing destination. In 1929 Robert and Helen Cox bought the property, renamed it T Cross Ranch, and began dude ranch operations. They built additional structures to support this form of recreation. T Cross was run as a dude ranch through the end of the period of significance, 1957, and continues to be a dude ranch up to the present day.

The District is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A, specifically under the category of Entertainment/Recreation. The District’s historical import stems from its embodiment of a quintessentially American form of recreation — the dude ranch—and the intact physical integrity of the District makes it an excellent example. Factors contributing to the District’s current state of preservation include the remoteness of its location, the protection afforded it as an inholding within the Shoshone National Forest, the dedication of its owners to preserving it, and the loyalty of several generations of guests. As a result, the District is also eligible under Criterion C. The District’s buildings, structures, sites, and objects are well-preserved examples late 19th century American West ranch architectural styles. The engineering, construction techniques and materials, their placement within the District, and the uniformity of appearance all contribute to the historical context of the District’s architecture.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources