Reid Ranch was purchased in 1978 by Mervin and Ethna Reid. They had been looking for a getaway for many years. After being told about the property by a friend, they took a leisurely drive to see the location. Upon arriving, they fell in love with the location, its beauty, and the abundant wild life. They could visualize immediately "Reid Ranch." What they found was a very primitive location with one small building that was partially built. A fire had burned off the back porch. There was no running water, but there was electricity.
They decided to remodel the existing building and add on to it so it could accommodate their children and grandchildren as the family grew. In addition, they hoped to use it as a site for seminars of the Exemplary Center for Reading Instruction (ECRI). ECRI was founded by and is directed by Dr. Ethna R. Reid and her husband Dr. Mervin R. Reid. It is a program to teach teachers how to teach so no student fails to learn. These seminars would utilize approximately three weeks of the summer time with educators coming to the Ranch from throughout the fifty states and the territories.
Before beginning to build, however, they knew they first had to find culinary water. They filed water rights on some springs, but they also had a well dug the summer of 1981. It was dry! The following summer, however, they had another well dug 520 feet deep and much further from the lodge. From that well, water is brought 1800 feet and stored in a 25,000 gallon glass-lined steel storage tank which was brought in at great risk and buried in the mountainside. But, finally, in 1982 they had water, and work began on the first building.
The Reids also had to bring in dirt to fill in a huge hole of 150 feet by 150 feet that had been dug opposite of where the lodge is now, and they leveled the plateau on which the present buildings sit. Rock had to be moved and grasses planted. A new road had to be built.
Building has never been easy at Reid Ranch. Trucks have mired in mud. The road was too narrow for cranes and flat bed trucks carrying tractors and lawn sod and cement trucks to turn around and go back - but eventually the work was done.
The Ranch was without a telephone until 1989, so all calls about building supplies and emergencies had to take place from the little pay phone outside the Fruitland Store 13 miles down a dirt road.
When the Reids bought the property, only one other house was on the road from Fruitland to the Ranch. That was the old white farmhouse four miles in from Fruitland where the Fish and Game Warden stays.
Because of the harsh winter, the ruggedness of the location, and the slippage of the mountains, the north wing collapsed during the winter months. A second time the wing was rebuilt, derricks came to lift in place again the massive wooden and steel beams. And for a second winter, the mountain slipped, and the beams and walls collapsed. This time an 18-inch thick cement wall was built from below the basement floor and on up through the main level to reinforce the back wall. Because of the determination of the Reids, the lodge was completed for its first seminar in August of 1985.
The Reids asked for evaluations from the educators in the first seminar not only for the effect of the training but also how the participants liked holding the seminar at the Reid Ranch. One gentleman from South Dakota wrote: "It is one of the seven wonders of the world."
Because of the enthusiasm of the participants at the ECRI seminars, the Reids opened the Ranch to church groups, family reunions, government and company groups. The response has been gratifying. The Ranch books groups up to a year in advance because of its popularity. Reid Ranch is truly God's country. It sits at 7,800 feet on the slopes of the Uintah Mountains. The Reids have tried to limit its growth so as not to disturb the ecological balance of nature surrounding the Ranch. You can still experience seeing deer, moose, elk, bear, beaver, porcupine, mountain lion, and even skunks. The Ranch's location and the area surrounding it is replete with Western folklore and history. Chief Tabby from whom Tabby Mountain got its name, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid riding up through these mountain passes, and the famed Rhodes Mine that was supposed to have helped finance the development of the Salt Lake Valley at the time of Brigham Young are all part of the Ranch's history.
Fruitland was the first land scam in Utah. A man selling land in the area took pictures of the flowering fruit trees in Utah County to entice people to the "fruitland" area. When the purchasers arrived from the Midwest and found sage and red rock and cedar trees, many sold their holdings to the hardy few who stayed and began to develop the area.
The Reid Ranch will continue to be a pristine Western location to enjoy now and in the future. The Reids love the area, and they hope those who stay can sense the beauty as they see it.
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