The Crookston Ranch was homesteaded by Joe Crookston around 1887 at the ever-shifting foot of the Killpecker Sand Dune Field. His family had moved to Rock Springs area from Illinois around 1870 and he had worked as a laborer as a teenager. He was 22 in 1887 when he registered his brand, “JOE” and filed his homestead paperwork. In 1908, Crookston filed his brand “row lock on a boat” and often teamed up with his brother in law, Tim Kinney, on large sheep operations.
The homestead consists of five buildings: living quarters, storage room, barns, and a foundation for an unknown building. There are also two corrals, a well, a trash dump, and a privy. The buildings are constructed from various materials that Crookston had at his disposal including a mixture of sandstone, milled lumber, logs, and adobe.
Crookston also maintained another ranch at 14 Mile that was a popular stop and saloon along the Rock Springs-Lander-South Pass Road. There are many legends associated with Butch Cassidy and his gang at 14 Mile.
Crookston died at the age of 50 in 1915. His half-brother, Richard Matthews, later bought back both of the ranches. Today, the ranch is on BLM land and can be viewed from the Killpecker Sand Dune Field. There are maintenance efforts to stabilize the buildings, but it is clear that the sand dunes are constantly getting closer to the resource.
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