By Steve Gerber RCRP Historian
In 1884, Deputy U.S. Surveyor, Augustus Ferron discovered a small, perennial stream in a remote and unoccupied canyon on the plateau. He called the stream Ranch Creek. The following year, Ferron and four partners renamed the stream Range Creek and formed the Range Valley Cattle Company. The company claimed all the land and water on the West Tavaputs Plateau between the Price River on the south and Nine Mile Canyon on the north. Ferron's partners all came from New York and Pennsylvania to pursue mining and railroad interests in Utah. None of them had any experience in cattle ranching, but Ferron recognized the value of this previously undiscovered range and convinced the group to join him in the venture. The group filed seven Desert Land Entries along the creek, securing the valuable water and blocking the only route to the abundant summer range on the upper plateau.
Range Valley Cattle Company continued operation until 1902, when the partners sold their interests to Utah cattle baron, Preston Nutter. In 1915, Range Valley was opened to homesteading, prompting several attempts to break Nutter's hold on the valuable land and water in the canyon. Helper Mayor and banker Joe Barboglio attempted to take control of the canyon by enlisting surrogate homesteaders to secure title to improved Nutter holdings. Protracted legal battles ensued and Nutter lost possession of the two most valuable pieces of property. Unfortunately, Barboglio’s own fortunes had declined and he was unable to take advantage of his victories. The Preston Nutter Corporation remained the primary landholder in the canyon until 1951 when the Range Creek holdings were sold to Ray Wilcox and his sons Don and Waldo. Don and Waldo divided the ranch following the death of their father. Don assumed control of the upper ranch on the plateau and Waldo retained the Range Valley portion. In December 2001, after 50 years in the canyon, Waldo Wilcox and the government of the United States agreed to a purchase price and the ranch was returned to the public domain.