Ranching in Guadalupe Mountains
NPS Photo - Adam Butterick
By the late 1800s, the Mescalero Apaches had for the most part been driven out of the Guadalupes. Settlers began to arrive and attempted to make a living farming and ranching in these mountains. Although there were a few who prospered, most failed. Among the few ranchers who persevered and prospered in the Guadalupe Mountains were the Smith family, Henry and Rena Belcher, and Adolphus Williams. The Smith family operated an orchard at Frijole Ranch for nearly forty years. Henry and Rena Belcher had a ranch at the foot of the rugged Western Escarpment, 5,000 feet below Guadalupe Peak. The Belcher's ranch was later sold to James Adolphus Williams, and became known as Williams Ranch. In the early 1940's, both Frijole and Williams Ranches were bought by Judge J.C. Hunter. Hunter eventually owned much of what is now Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Early on, he had a vision of this place being a public park for all to enjoy. After Hunter's death, his son, J.C. Hunter Jr., sold the land to the National Park Service for $22 per acre.