CLICK HERE for Thoughts and Comments on Horsethief Ranch, Moab Utah

Click on the headline above to read and post your thoughts, insights and comments related to your visit to Horsethief in the Beautiful Canyonlands area of Southeast Utah

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68 thoughts on “CLICK HERE for Thoughts and Comments on Horsethief Ranch, Moab Utah

  1. We were at the Ranch today, 6/14/16. The sweet resident doggy greeted us, but we noticed a laceration on her leg. Hoping the caretaker will check it out.

  2. Nicely done vimeo!!! here’s hoping someone of high character and vision ends up with the ranch…it deserves that.

  3. While web surfing today I happened to google an old heaven from my childhood…horsethief. My parents owned the ranch before Michael. We passed blissful summers without phones or electricity with dozens of friends and relatives coming and going. Wait til I tell my brothers that it’s for sale once again!!!

  4. Hi. I am from Alberta Canada and am the granddaughter of Art Murry who built the original ranch house. Was very excited when I found Horse Thief Ranch on here. Have heard many stories about ‘the ranch’ over the years. My husband and our 3 sons & families are planning a trip down there next summer and am really hoping we will still be able to visit even if it does sell

    1. I also hope the open door policy is kept in place. What a place! It’s to special not to share. Scotty Wales

    2. Hi i read your post I grew up punching cows on the desert on my dad’s ranch. My earliest memory of horse thief is the mc Kenny’s. We’re you there after that I don’t remember if they had kids or not .

      My name is dan young I’m 54 and this would have been in the mid 60s.

  5. Wow, surprised to see it up for sale after all these years. I wish i had the extra money today, I would buy it. There is a lot of potential in that little desert oasis. You would only hope that the person that buys it will maintain the same open door policy that has allowed so many of us to enjoy it from time to time.

  6. Noticed the ranch is up for sale. First, from the extended McKinney family, thank you Michael for caretaking, improving, and preserving the ranch in a manner that not only recognized its history and uniqueness, but also demonstrated your understanding and respect for the deep connections of all those who have ties to HorseThief.

    It’s simply amazing how this place has such an effect on everyone that experiences it. I only enjoyed the ranch on one occasion for about 3 hours and count myself quite fortunate. That short visit validated all the “HorseThief” stories I’d heard for over 30 years from the McKinney family.

    I only hope the new owner has the foresight and wisdom to take a hard look and a good lesson from its most recent owner.

    David McPhail
    Spouse of Terry Mangum, granddaughter to former HorseThief owner, Lewis McKinney.

    1. Where could I find the listing and particulars on horse thief ranch being for sale? Just curious as my grandfather Arthur Murry owned horse thief in the 30s to 1952 and built the ranch house and many of the buildings and corrals Brian Murry.

      1. Hi–Michael hasn’t contracted with a broker yet. He’s shopping it around via word of mouth at the moment. He’s seems to feel he is at a point of his life that its time to hand it off. IF you know anyone interested have them get in touch with him care of the St Moritz Lodge or via this blog. Who knows how to really value the place? Cheers–Matt

          1. Thanks Scotty. I’m from Canada and visit the ranch at least once a year. Just recently this past Easter. My grandfather Arthur Murry built the ranch house with the help of George Buckley. He also built the corrals and other old buildings on the ranch. The beginning of Horse Thief Ranch starts with my grandfather. My dad Arlie Murry has many memories there and we as a family cherish the history We are all grateful to Michael for keeping the doors ‘open” to our family and keeping the ranch basically “as is”. We dearly hope the new owners will be kind like Micheal and let our family and many others to continue enjoying the history. If the money was there we would buy it in a heartbeat. Murry Family.

        1. This page was a great find. It was great to read the history and to see if it aligned with the story’s my dad and uncle Bill Tibbetts would tell me when I was young. I’ve some story’s of before the ranch when the spring was discovered and how it all began. As I near retirement it would be great to consider being there again. I only hope who gets the ranch has the open gate policy that Michael has had. Thank you so much Michael for being so willing to share for all those years..

          1. I was lucky enough to take my kids and see the ranch just this week. I love listening to my dads stories of summers out there with Grandpa Bill and Grandma Jewel Tibbetts. I sure wish I could buy this!!

  7. Hi, Everyone
    My grandfather was Arthur Murry, Brian Murry who has left a few comments is my cousin, and I would just like to say thank you for this blog. I have been trying to do reserh on the ranch for years and this is great to see. Thank you so very much! This made my life. Love you Brian.

    1. My good cousin Ashley…..i would be glad to share any information on the ranch with you anytime as i have been there many times and just recently in the spring of 2013 we as a family traveled around and visited many places that were related to grandpa and grandma murrys history including Horse Thief Ranch. Your grandma murry has a very colorful history too. I am planning on going down to the Horsethief area again in the spring of 2014. You would be more than welcome to join me. I have so many stories and places that i would be happy to experience with you. Hope all is well . Love you too. Brian Murry

  8. We happened on Horsethief Ranch in the summer of 2011. We too found the book on Amazon and enjoyed reading it in advance of an overnight visit which we arranged with the caretaker. As comfortable as our stay was, you could somewhat feel what a challenge it was for the many people who lived there at are various times.
    We prepared and posted a little “video tour” of the on http://www.vimeo.com. Happy to share the link if you email me.
    BTW, does anyone have information on the “secret and dark side” of the Ranch mentioned in A Allred’s long and very interesting post above?
    Libby

  9. I spent time at Horsethief ranch in 1988, and 1989. It is a magical place. Chad was the caretaker there and I will have wonderful memories forever.

  10. hi, anyone related to the Kenny Alred family I have some pic’s of them when they lived on LaSal creek, I would love to find someone that would like the pictures,to call me, Bob-1-970-964-4298

    1. Hi Bob, this is Kenny Allred jr. I would love to have those pictures. I tried the number but it was not you. If you are still following this blog, let me know how I can contact you. Thanks

      1. Hello Kenny…..my grandfather was Art Murry and i believe your dad worked for him at one point in time. This past spring on our trip to Utah and to the ranch with my father Arlie Murry we discovered some books wrote by Michael Kelsey and your dad mentions my grandfather many times which brought a smile to my dads face and to mine. My dad said..”good for Kenny!!”…I would be very interested in communicating with you as my family history and Horsethief ranch are very important to me….Brian Murry

        1. Hi Brian,, My dad did work for Art Murry and also looked at him as a friend. If I remember the chain of who owned the ranch, I think Art sold it to my dad who later sold it to uncle Bill and Aunt Jewel. I never met Art Murry, but the storys they all would tell about him and the old cowboy days are great storys.

  11. I spent 3 amazing months at the ranch helping to build the hot tub. Wonderful memories of a special place.Hello to Michael!
    Simon Young,Adelaide,South Australia.

    1. Simon – thank you for helping do that. I’ve spent many a silent starry night enjoying the fruits of your labor and Michael’s generosity.

  12. Another quick note ….FYI to Michael … after running across this blog I found you had authored a book on the Ranch so went searching Amazon for a copy. Price ranged from $11.00 used to a whopping $429.00 new! (I ordered the 11 dollar and received it in less than 42 hours). Well written and informative, thanks for recording the history.

  13. I was wondering if the old ‘Blog’ books were still around from the late 70s and early 80s? Having spent a variety of weekends as well as several weeks in a row staying at the Ranch, I remember jotting down a few notes once in a while in that ole guest book.

    And here are a few other notes I guess I’ll share since I just ran across this here blog and have some stories relative to the Ranch …

    – we burned out at least Three chainsaws while cutting the railroad tie timbers for the raised beds on the North side of the main house … haven’t been there in 30 years so don’t really know of they are even still there. The hood was always open on our truck to give access to the battery which we constantly clipped our blade sharpeners because we could only get about 3 cuts per sharpening.

    – used to always get a laugh when folks visiting would put way too much wood under the big metal hot tub that used to be out back against the cliffs. The water would darn near Boil but most folks seem to have enough libation on board to not notice they were Cooking! Always kept an eye out though and would rescue those in need.

    – for several days in what I believe to be late 1979, I sat out on the bench on the west side of the house and shot 22 round pistols with a guy who was on his way to the Olympic tryouts for one of the shooting events. No Lie, after the third day he was so pissed off at me for consistently beating him with 98/100 bulls-eyes, he left. If I remember right I think it was Michael who came and picked him up in a heilocopter which had landed out along the road leading into the canyon. I never did find out how he did although I did wish him luck!

    Yours Truly
    aka Boo

  14. I wanted to inquire if there was a way to get in touch with Michael (owner of Horsethief Ranch) This is Robin, I visited the ranch many times when Ben was the caretaker and have many happy memories as does my daughter! I am going to Moab Sept 28 and 29 2012 and wanted to know if it would be possible to visit the ranch for a quick look around…its been awhile since I saw it. I know there are different caretakers and I don’t want to impose if guests and family are there. Just thought I would ask!?! Thanks. You can call me at 801-440-1466 if possible. Thanks.

  15. Hello there.
    I was traveling in Thailand quite a few years back, and with time on my hands found myself rummaging through books in a hotel reading room. It was there that by chance that I came across a book – Horse Thief Ranch, with a signed handwritten message inside from the author (Michael). There was also a handwritten dedication inside to ‘Deangi’. I asked who the book had belonged to but no one seemed to know and was told to take it if I liked. I’ve had it ever since and every now and again I’d look through it and puzzle over the open invitation to come stay that the book provided. Now I’ve finally come round to looking you up properly and it’s good to put my little mystery in context!

    So just saying hi from London, England I guess, where a copy of your book lives happily with me.

    Regards,
    Stan Mytkowski

    1. Amazing vignette — I will pass it on to Michael. You are welcome to visit the ranch if your travels ever bring you to Utah.

      1. Really good to hear back from you. I don’t visit the states as much as I used to but god knows my spirit of adventure is due some exercise. Having read the book several times over the years I’d love to see the place. My living is as a filmmaker but currently I’ve been trying to get back to writing, might be the ideal place to get the creative juices flowing! Oh and just so I know… If I came could I stay for a week or two or would it have to be just a drop in visit? Wouldn’t want to impose in any way.

    2. Hi Stan,
      Michael sailed around the world for I think about 7 years. I met Michael when I was living on Malta in the 90’s. Deangi must have been a very handsome young man because only a select few have the book. I too have the book. After leaving the Mediterranean and before returning to Southern California I was the caretaker at the ranch for about 10 months. The ranch is very isolated, miles from anyone else. One day while I was doing the typical ranch chores, an old friend the Archbishop of Birmingham, Eng. Maurice Couve de Murville (deceased) showed up at the gate with his entourage unannounced. They spent the afternoon enjoying the ranch.
      Horsethief Ranch was one of my many wonderful adventures in life.
      Steven

      1. Hi Steven,
        Many thanks for the background. I guess I’ve had a few little adventures in my life, and those are the moments that shine through the years. I’m due another one soon so this could be it (said with a smile). There’s something about the book, how it came into my possession, and now the place itself that resonates, so I guess I’ll be planning a little trip some time soon.

  16. There were many characters of Horsethief Ranch but truth is most of them where all related or soon after became in-laws of what makes up the majority of the people of Moab. it wasn’t a place where one person took over, it was an entire group most of them related and working together to carve out an existence in desolation ..
    When researching Horsethief, keep an eye out for Amy Ellen Moore Tibbetts Allred, sometimes called Amy Tibbetts or Amy Allred.
    Amy was the mother of the Bill Tibbetts Jr and the mother of WC Allred (the sheriff Bill was running from) she also was the mother of Kenny Moore Allred another one of Horsethiefs owners.
    Growing up Amy’s family was sent out by Brigham Young to the most harshest land thinkable at the harshest times known. She was one of twelve children, her mother lost four children all about the time of their first birthdays, Amy’s mother also lost a sixteen and a fourteen year old.
    Her brother is Ephram Young Moore known also as Eph Moore is also an amazing note worthy person.
    Amy’s first husband was William Tibbetts. He was murdered at the ranch over a beaten women who the family was hiding from her drunk husband.
    After Williams death leaving her with small Bill Tibbetts Jr., her ties with Horsethief continue into her marriage with Wilford Wesley Allred.
    WW Allred was known for his very anti social behavior, common to the Danish; being that he was the son of Danish women and also had a step grandmother on his fathers side who was Danish.. This anti social behavior is what Western literature bases the rough and rugged characters off of. The Danish do not have a history of strong stable family relationships, hence the reason for Danish not having a common family name but just adding SEN or DOTTER to the end of the child’s fathers first name to make up a child’s last name. Danish are also known for their cliches… think “get r dun”, a perfect example of a modern cliche based off of Danish heritage..
    WW Allred committed suicide while serving his sentence for killing his best friend in a drunk stupor. Amy again finds herself a widow raising small children in a savage land.
    Later her son Kenny M Allred retakes the ranch.. During his ownership is when Horse Ranch becomes Horsethief Ranch.. Due to a single incident and it wasn’t really theft.. and by calling someone a horse thief in a time that stealing a horse was worse than adultery and punishable by death.. that man who painted the “thief” really took his chances by doing so.
    Something else to keep in mind, these people where all Mormons, all sent out before the Word of Wisdom, so when they left the Salt Lake valley it was alright to drink and smoke and play cards. It was after they began their meager existence in the desert that they where notified of the changes, by then I am sure they felt pretty bitter toward the church, they also felt their existence was earned with no help from god or the church that sent them out in the first place.
    I don’t believe they intentionally where malicious as the news paper and Robbers Roost book made them out to be. I am sure some cattle where being picked off when large companies where driving threw, a stray cow was found her and there, someone’s farm hand got shot while trying to steal some sheep, but only out of pure desperation and from very wealthy companies did they take from.
    I am sure many outlaws such as Butch Casidy came threw, but I am sure it was the fellowship of the desert, brought on by the isolation and common hardship that they gave support to outlaws.
    In a time of keeping your business to yourself.. I really can’t picture Butch Cassidy riding up and yelling “hey I’m Butch Cassidy, I’m a wanted outlaw and I want to rest and feed my stolen property on your ranch!” I can’t picture a rancher going out of his way to help someone only to bring hardship to his family..
    There is however a very secretive and dark side to Horsethief that has never been mentioned that I will leave a mystery… but when visiting or researching Horsethief, remember Amy.. Sent out by Brigham Young, continuing into the desert, protecting her family from shoot outs, Indians, dealing with drought and the elements of the dessert. giving birth to a large number of kids in very poor savage conditions loosing two husbands in violent deaths. One truly amazing women overlooked by over romanticized journalism.

  17. Hi, my husbands grandpa is Kenny M Allred (the horse thief).. we have heard so many stories of Horse Thief Ranch. We will be out this Easter and I was hoping we could drop by and walk around and find out anything to add to our family’s history.

    Adrianne Allred

    1. Hi Adrianne. Give Michael Behrendt a call at the St Moritz Lodge in Aspen CO. I am sure he would love to have you visit.

      1. My daughter has a conference in June in Moab so we will be in Moab. My Uncle Art & Grandpa George built the house. I would love to visit and show my kids the place

  18. FYI…there is a new Google Earth image of the area including Horsethief Ranch. The image is tagged as 6/6/11 but I visit this area on Google Earth often and I first noticed the new post on Feb 15, 2012. The image is sharper than previous ones and shows the gardens and stable with a great deal less shadowing.

    Sadly, the wife and I were unable to travel in 2011 so we missed our annual SW Utah fix. It’s killin’ me.

  19. Really enjoyed a wonderful weekend with friends and family at Horsethief. Thank you Michael and Calvin and Juanita!

  20. I just happened to come across your wonderful blog. I was a caretaker at the ranch in 1994. We visited the ranch again in 2003. A very bad year of drought and so the property had fallen into decay. We returned to HT for a weekend visit and also to find a new ‘blue heeler’ pup. Which we found in Thompson Springs.

    It was a delight to see David McPhail’s recent pictures and that the ranch has been restored and improved.

    I got a chuckle out of seeing that the yellow HT screen door, outdoor ‘stump table’ and the river rock/dirt patio below it has survived. Just a few of my improvements in 1994.

    Steven Griswold

    1. Hey Steven — this is Matt the ‘moderator.’ You may remember Megan (Michael’s daughter) and me from way back in ’94. We remember your signature improvements and your chipmunk infestation (as well as your ‘final solution’ to the problem). Meg and I were married a year later in 1995. Hope all is well with you.

  21. Hi Patty…Hope all is well…Yes..we are planning on going back to Horse Thief area this summer if things work out….Its with a heavy heart to say I had a devistating house fire one week ago and lost everything . I had so many articles from our family from the ranch that will be missed the most. I had Rex”s saddle, my dads brother, that he was riding when he drowned in the colorado river. Grandpa Art Murrys bridle and rope and many other little things. The walking cane I give him many years ago. The book on Horse Thief that Michael wrote was sighned by Grandpa Murry….I want to rebuild this part of history somehow as it truely is close to my heart. Brian Murry

    1. Brian, I am so sad to hear that. Let me see if anyone has a signed book, I would love to get that if I can for you. I know you are sad about that. My sister had her house broken into in October and she was so hurt, the dummies took a lot of the stuff my dad had left her. They also took a external hard drive with their little handicapped son’s picture’s on them. It is so hard to lose things like this. Just know that our prayers are with you as you rebuild.

      Patty

  22. My grandfather was Art Murry who owned and ranched the Horse Thief ranch from 1930 to 1951. I have visited the ranch many times being the last time in the summer of 2009 which was a family reunion that I enjoyed very much and always look forward to my next visit. The history is so facinating to me and I have many artifacts from my grandfather that always brings a smile. I am always interested in learning more and visiting people that have a connection with the Horse Thief Ranch and Robbers Roost country. Hoping in the near future to go back to the ranch and ride the country horseback with my dad Arlie as he did as a small boy. I have just purchased a movie,DVD, that is called Devils Doorway that was made in 1950 and was filmed in the Moab country. My Uncle Roy while living at Horse Thief and being a fine horseman was hired as an “Extra” in this movie. Upon his recent passing It will be saddly missed the stories and knowledge and experiences this man shared with me. It is great to find this blog for people like my Uncle Roy as his part of history will live for ever.

  23. Art Murry was my uncle and George Buckley was my grandfather, they built the house on the ranch. I am so glad to hear that Michael still owns the ranch. We had a family reunion there in 1991, It was such a pleasure to visit the ranch. Michael, Roy Murry passed away this last Saturday (Dec 4, 2010) in Canada. I remember seeing the look on his face when he saw the toy truck on the mantle in the house, it was his as a little boy and someone had found it outside and placed it on the mantle. I know that all the Murry family loved going to the ranch when they came to Utah. I have wanted to visit again and wasn’t sure when anyone would be there so we could.

  24. As I’ve stated earlier, my wife’s grandfather, Mac McKinney, was a past owner of Horsethief. My wife and I love the canyonlands and have made a yearly pilgimage to Utah/AZ since our 25th wedding anniversary in 2004. Through the generosity of the present owner of Horsethief, Michael Behrendt, we were given the opportunity to visit the ranch on September 30, 2010. We can’t express the depth of our appreciation to Michael…but it is clear that the ownership of Horsethief is in the right hands. (We were going to meet Cal Oliver at the ranch but life got in the way…maybe next time.) We spent 3-4 hours just roaming the grounds and exploring. It was a special treat for me having heard stories of Horsethief from my in-laws over the past 30 years. For my wife, Terry, it was a visit to her past and the memories of her childhood, her grandfather, and the ranch itself.

    It is a special place…and one that holds special memories for our family.

    In the future I plan to combine some of the pictures that we took that day with other pictures of Horsethief that have survived the last 50 years in the family. Maybe a coffee table book for the ranch…we’ll see. In the meantime, for those interested here is a link to a Photobucket slideshow of the pictures we took that day. (if it doesnt show as a link, copy the address and paste it in your browser) http://s1037.photobucket.com/albums/a454/mcdavid5/Horsethief%20Ranch%209-30-10/?albumview=slideshow
    Also, there are some other pictures and videos I’ve made of the canyonlands in our journeys. You can see my whole profile of stuff at http://s1037.photobucket.com/home/mcdavid5

    Again, thanks Michael and Cal.
    David & Terry McPhail

    1. Your pics are outstanding and bring back good memories of the ranch. Thanks for sharing. Brian Murry ..aka arliezane…”Arlie Zane, a name my grandfather used at “specific times of his life”

  25. How great to run upon this blog. My wife is a grandaughter of former owners (Lewis “Mac” & Alice McKinney) of Horsethief and spent some memorable times there as a child. Is it possible to visit the ranch? We plan to be in the Moab area in early October, 2010. Anybody have any info? mcdavid@suddenlink.net 405-714-9027 (yes, Oklahoma 🙂

    1. My wife and I and two friends visited Horsethief Ranch about a month ago. What an amazing place. It is like a Garden of Eden in the middle of the Red Rock wilderness. Cal Oliver and his wife were there with one of their 13 grandchildren…an extremely precocious 4 year old. The gardens were in full production as were many of the fruit trees. It was obvious that a lot of work had been put into the grounds and buildings in recent days/weeks.
      Brought back wonderful memories of my last visit as a guest of Mac McKinney while I was a Seasonal Park Ranger at Island in the Sky District, Canyonlands National Park in 1965. I remember when Mac broke his back and everyone said he would never walk again, and the next summer when I went back to work…there he was…chasing the cows again…well, maybe not chasing them…but certainly ambulating on his own steam.

  26. I do believe some spaces on this earth are healing and sacred and Horsethief is one such place. Ben- thank you for showing me a way of life I was not accustomed to. Thank you for your kindness to both my daughter and myself on our visits there. Michael- thank you for the wonderful visit that we shared there at Horsethief. Some people you meet stay with you long after you part ways and I must say you are one to remember. Love and warm thoughts to you both.

  27. Can anyone tell me who owned Horsethief Ranch in 1964…the year Canyonlands National Park was established. I was a Park ranger, and he was a right nice fellow…even though the Park was messing with his grazing land.

    1. I just read a book called”Last of the Robber Roast outlaws”
      It says from 1959 until 1965 James William (Bill) Tibbetts owned the ranch with his wife Jewel. They both passed away in 1969, killed by a drunk driver.

  28. Ben, Steve & the Fine Lady. Thanks so much for the hospitality that ya’ll bestowed on Wingo & I as we wandered into Your Space. Way Kool Space It is!! I’m trying to get a copy of the Book so’s I can have My Wille Wanka pass. I might head South again soon & was thinking maybe Wingo & I might darken your doorstep? I’d love to hear from you folks anytime! Thanks again! Scotty Wales.

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