The Empire Ranch was established in the 1860s as a homestead property of 160 acres. It was purchased by Walter Vail in 1876 and expanded to more than 100,000 acres. The ranch dwellings were expanded to include 22 rooms. The ranch was sold to the Boice family in 1928. They sold to Gulf American Corp. in 1969, which held the land for residential development but continued ranch operations. In 1988, land swaps brought the ranch under the control of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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