Granite Dells & Point of Rocks Ranches
In April of 2013, AED acquired 2 local historic ranches; The Granite Dells Ranch and Point of Rocks Ranch. Today, the Granite Dells and Point of Rocks ranches total 31 sections—15,000 acres of range land, 100 acres of farmland, and 4,000 acres of state leased grazing land. Since the initial purchase in 1908, the two ranches have always been managed together. And it was a long, hard path getting there.
- Initial Land Purchase1908What began in 1908 as conversation between W. W. Wilkinson and his friends in Monticello, Illinois, led to the initial land purchase of 200 acres near Prescott.
- The Beginning of Granite Dells Ranch1917The original ranch was actually a water company, sold in 1917 to the Chino Valley Mutual Water Users Association for 10 cents on the dollar. W.W. used the proceeds to buy the John Duke‘s 200-acre Farm north of Granite and Willow creeks. That was the beginning of Granite Dells Ranch. He added a couple of partners, established Hassayampa Alfalfa Farms, and bought more land and equipment.
- The Wilkinson Company1925Jasper N. “Jap” Wilkinson, II—W.W.’s son—graduated from the University of Illinois and came home to assume ranch management in December of 1925. The company was owned by fathers, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters of the Wilkinson Family. The ranch became part of The Wilkinson Company and included everything from lumber mills and lumberyards to farms in Illinois, Missouri, and Arizona, to brick companies and small town banks in Illinois. Each business had to stand on its own two financial legs, but all of them benefited from the collective financial strength of the overall operation, with W.W. serving as the senior traffic cop.
- Granite Dells Ranch & The Great Depression1927In 1927, the company became Granite Dells Ranch. A dairy portion was phased out in favor of commercial cattle and small portions of land were acquired. When the full brunt of the Great Depression hit in 1929 like a ton of bricks, times were tough. But the Wilkinsons’ sheer determination led to further diversification and kept their collective financial heads above water. They even managed to add more range land to the ranching operation.
- Cattle Herd Upgrades1935In 1935, to meet the demand for beef by the East and West coasts, they upgraded their cattle herds, buying Herefords with lineage from English bloodstock tracing back to the original Hereford-Friesian Cattle.
- Ranch Expansion1936They bought 300 acres of farm and range land north and east of Chino Valley, where Artesian wells were drilled. Combined with the farm north of Prescott, the Wilkinsons could produce all the hay and grain their cattle needed, plus some. Finally, they were debt free. Later that year, the family suffered a devastating loss when W. W. died.
- Jap Wilkinson Pushes Ranch Growth1947Jap Wilkinson really cared about Granite Dells Ranch and he slowly bought up shares from the rest of the family until, in 1947, Granite Dells Ranch was completely owned by his family. He continued to buy ranch lands, mostly continuous to the existing ranch. This spate of acquisitions included everything from land loaded down with property tax liens to homesteads along Granite Creek, state and federal lands at auction and land from the railroads. By then, the ranch had an annual turnover of about 2,000 head of cattle, quite a feat in those days. Demand was high in the Phoenix and Los Angeles markets. And the farm supplied grain, hay and silage to its feed mill with cottonseed meal and other whole grains shipped in from Colorado and Texas.
- Agriculture: a stable, growing economy1960'sIn 1962, history repeated itself and Jap’s son, Jay Wilkinson III, came home from college with his new wife, Cynthia, to take an active role in the ranching operation. The 60s were good years. Agriculture enjoyed a stable, growing economy and the ranch prospered.
- Gravel Mining1970'sThe 70s saw tough times again, with costs soaring. Meat consumption dropped off, the meat packing plant at Willow Lake was closed and cattle were shipped to Phoenix feedlots instead of being fattened at home. Prescott was creeping closer and closer. The only way the city could grow was right smack through Granite Dells Ranch. The Prescott airport was only two miles west of the ranch headquarters and growing like a weed with nearby housing, light industry, and even larger airport needs looming. Meanwhile next door, the Fain Ranch decided to subdivide seven sections—4,480 acres—to supplement its income. To fend off subdivision pressures and rising property taxes, a new line of business was born. Eight miles of Granite Creek was ideal for a gravel mining business. In short order, a manager was found and the business grew to become the largest supplier of gravel products, meeting the demand for 70 to 80 percent of the Prescott area’s needs. That gave Granite Dells Ranch the cash flow it needed to survive.
- Point of Rocks Ranch1972In 1972, Jap created Point of Rocks Ranch and put his holdings into his trust, creating another Wilkinson family ranch, and Jay assumed management of Granite Dells Ranch. Small changes occurred during the 70s, mostly ranch land loss due to city encroachment, but the ranch still maintained its basic 45 sections—21,000 acres.
- Jap Wilkinson Dies1987Jap Wilkinson died in 1987, leaving the third and fourth generations the responsibility of maintaining and improving both ranches.
- Granite Dells Ranch is divided2000Granite Dells Ranch was divided in 2000, with Jay taking his ownership out of land in Chino Valley. He named his new ranch the Running W. He and his wife intend to stay at the forefront of the cattle industry in the truest tradition of the pioneering Wilkinson family. Point of Rocks Ranch remains a family owned corporation.
- Ranches sold2006Ranches sold to Granite Dells Ranch Holdings, LLC managed by Dave Cavan
- Ranch files Bankruptcy2012Granite Dells Ranch Holdings files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
- AED, LLC acquires Land2013Arizona Eco Development, LLC acquires title to The Granite Dells and Point of Rocks Ranches.