National Register of Historic Places


Huxtable Ranch Headquarters District

Converse County

Date Added to Register

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Smithsonian Number

48CO3295

Read all about it

The Huxtable Ranch Headquarters District is located in the southwestern corner of Converse County, Wyoming. The headquarters district lies along Boxelder Creek about 17 miles from the town of Glenrock in a slight depression between the first and second ridges of the Laramie Mountains. Elevation at headquarters is between 6200 and 6300 feet. The district encompasses 2.3 acres.

The ranch, which is locally significant, consists of the 1933 residence and the outbuildings that were crucial to the ranch operation. They meet the registration requirements of the property types of Ranch houses and Auxiliary ranch buildings by serving the needs of the Huxtable family in their ranching operation. The house was constructed in 1933-1935 of local materials and housed members of the Huxtable family until 1986. The auxiliary buildings were constructed at various times, the earliest barn pre-dates 1929, and the latest being the two buildings that in 1952 replaced the shop and chicken house that were destroyed by fire. All the buildings were essential to the ranch during its historic period and have changed little over the years. Unlike so many agricultural operations today, there are no new metal buildings in the Huxtable Ranch Headquarters District. The District possesses a high degree of integrity of location, design, setting, workmanship, feeling, association, and materials.

The Huxtable Ranch Historic District is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for its association with the theme of Subsistence and Self-Sufficient Agriculture. The Huxtable Ranch operated as a relatively self-sufficient unit, raising or growing much of their own food, from 1929 well into the 1950s. The Huxtable Ranch District is also associated with the theme of Modernization not by conforming to that pattern, but by serving as an exception to it, thus indicating the perseverance of earlier patterns of ranching in the face of pressure to modernize. Lloyd Huxtable resisted trends of modernization that involved the purchase of large expensive equipment on credit and mortgage of the ranch. He bought his first truck, a used telephone company vehicle for which he paid cash, in the early 1940s. In the 1950s, he purchased a used threshing machine only when the neighbor who had threshed for the entire Boxelder community since the 1920s retired. Huxtable was a thrifty, conservative rancher who believed that if you did not have the money, you did not buy it. He lived his life by his beliefs and the Huxtable Ranch in turn reflects those characteristics.

The Huxtable Ranch was part of a larger ranching community known locally as Boxelder, named after the creek along which the first settlers homesteaded. Boxelder was just one community among a number of others in the mountains of western Converse County. These far flung ranching communities shared many characteristics: except for one or two big outfits, they were composed of small family ranches first homesteaded in the foothills and mountains of the Laramie Range in the 1880s.

Although only minor physical changes have taken place on the Huxtable Ranch – new corrals, some modification of buildings - enormous changes have taken place in the Boxelder community that was once so vibrant. At one time there were approximately 25 children among the local families – the Huxtables, the Philbricks, the Bartshes, the Hisers, the Grants, the Hales, and the Gonsalves. These families pitched in and helped their neighbors when it was needed, at branding, ice cutting, at threshing and haying times. Their children went to school together for many year and the entire community attended dances in the log schoolhouse. Today, even though there are fourteen families living on the small ranches that have existed for decades, it is a far different community than the tight-knit, self-sufficient, year-round ranching one it replaced along Box Elder Creek. During the 2011 school year, the Boxelder Rural School will have only one student.

The days of the self-sufficient ranch, for the most part independent of the national markets, have been gone for a long time. The modernization of American agriculture began over 100 years ago and included such innovations as the threshing machine, which facilitated the production of more grain, thereby propelling the small, family operation into the commercial market. Another component of modernization that went hand in hand with the new machinery was debt. The high cost of such new machinery as threshing machines, tractors, and pickup trucks, often signified borrowed money. The fact that the Huxtable Ranch survived for so long as a debt-free, primarily self-sufficient operation is a testament to Lloyd and Najma Huxtable and the tenacity by which the older patterns of agricultural production prevailed in the relative isolation of the Boxelder community. The Huxtable Ranch reflects those earlier patterns.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources