People come from all over the world to see Arches National Park every year, many of them taking the hike to visit the iconic Delicate Arch. Along this well-trodden trail, visitors pass near a small, wooden cabin—typically not the attraction that brought them to the trailhead, but a fascinating detour back in time nonetheless.
This cabin is what remains of the Wolfe Ranch, a remote homestead once occupied by the Wolfe family, who settled in the area over a century ago.
In 1898, Civil War veteran John Wesley Wolfe left his life in Ohio to establish a homestead out west with his eldest son, Fred. The two men settled a parcel of about 100 acres in Salt Wash, conveniently located near a spring. They grew produce and grazed cattle on the native grasses that were once abundant in the area. Their staple groceries were retrieved from the railroad station in Thompson Springs every few months.
In 1906, John’s daughter Flora and her husband, Ed Stanley joined John and Fred with their two children. The family built a new cabin, which stands in the park to this day. The building had wooden floors and glass windows—which was reportedly a dramatic improvement over John and Fred’s original abode. The family of six all lived and slept in the one-room cabin until Flora, Ed, and their two children moved to Moab in 1908 so the kids could attend school.
While today, many hundreds of visitors might pass by the homestead daily while hiking to Delicate Arch, subsisting in the arid, rocky environment was challenging and isolated when the Wolfes lived there. The Wolfe family left Moab and sold their property near Delicate Arch in 1910, returning to Ohio. The Wolfe’s sold the property to Tommy Larson, who then sold it to J. Marvin Turnbow, the first custodian of the then-Arches National Monument, in 1914. The Turnbows used the property intermittently, then sold it to Emmit Elizondo, who ultimately sold it to the U.S. government for inclusion in Arches National Monument. This history can be explored through interpretive signage at the homestead today.
The Moab Museum is dedicated to sharing stories of the natural and human history of the Moab area. To explore more of Moab’s stories and artifacts, find out about upcoming programs, and become a Member, visit www.moabmuseum.org.