Series: The Story of Faraway Ranch

Lillian, her sister Hildegard, and her mother, Emma Erickson, all played a vital role in the creation and management of Faraway Ranch. Emma initiated the purchase of the original cabin and property. Hildegard started the guest ranching business, and Lillian oversaw the expansion of the business with her husband, Ed Riggs, and continued to manage the ranch by herself after her husband’s death. Faraway Ranch thus preserves an important, non-traditional narrative of women's lives in the West.

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    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Portrait of the Erickson family

    In 1957 a journalist from the Saturday Evening Post stayed at the Faraway Ranch for several days, curious about the stories of a blind woman, Lillian Riggs, who managed the ranch. In the subsequent article, he wrote admiringly of the “Lady Boss” of Faraway: “Lillian was certainly a unique person. And she ran that ranch, make no mistake about it, and she knew what was going on at all times.” Read more

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    Chapter 2: Arizona Homestead

    Emma Peterson Erickson

    The story of Faraway Ranch begins with the arrival of Emma Peterson, an immigrant from Sweden, in the United States. Unlike many immigrants, Emma Peterson’s family was well-off, owned a comfortable home, and employed several servants. Emma did not get along well with her step-mother, however, and decided to follow her brother and sister, who already had emigrated to the United States. Read more

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    Chapter 3: The Guest Ranch Business

    Six Faraway Ranch guests on horseback

    Like her mother, Lillian did not sit at home waiting to be married. With her siblings, she attended school in Galesburg, Illinois and in 1906 started teaching at local schools. Lillian returned to the area and began teaching again, but when Hildegard started boarding guests at the ranch on weekends that same year, Lillian quit teaching and started helping her sister. Read more

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    Chapter 4: Chiricahua National Monument

    Two visitors pose by a sign for Faraway Ranch advertising horseback rides to see Chiricahua NM

    Guests at Faraway also enjoyed excursions into the area that Lillian called a “Wonderland of Rocks.” Here, spires and pinnacles of rock clustered together, forming fantastic geologic formations. Read more

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    Chapter 5: Faraway During the Depression

    Portrait of Ed Riggs in a shirt and tie, and wearing a brimmed hat

    The late 1920s were some of the most successful years for the Faraway Ranch. The dude ranch industry in general was prospering, particularly in Arizona. Read more

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    Chapter 6: Perseverance In the Postwar Era

    Lillian Erickson Riggs standing between a dog and a horse at Faraway Ranch

    By the mid-1940s, Ed and Lillian started to consider leaving the business. Both were growing older, and Lillian, who had been steadily losing her hearing also lost her eyesight. Read more

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    Chapter 7: The Faraway Ranch Landscape & Current Preservation Projects

    Modern photo of the corral at Faraway Ranch

    Historians often have depicted the tourism industry in the West as superseding productive relationships with the land. As the economy changed in the twentieth century, many communities that had started off in the mining, logging, or ranching industry looked to tourism as a way to survive. The Faraway Ranch complicates notions of the relationship between tourism and the environment. Read more

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    Chapter 8: Conclusion & References

    Aerial view of Faraway Ranch buildings at the base of a steep hillside

    Faraway Ranch would not have existed without the actions of the women in the Erickson family. By preserving their story, Faraway Ranch helps to tell the full history of women in the West. Read more