Tuesday, March 17, 1998

The Bark Ranch

March 17, 1998 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved. 

Located on the southeast end of Superstition Mountain is the historical Bark Ranch. This ranching endeavor dates back to 1877, and it was here, along Padre Canyon near a water seep, that Jack Minor squatted with a small drover’s herd. He planned to fatten his cattle then market them at the Silver King Mine.

Minor worked the squatter’s ranch for a short while then turned it over to Matt Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh constructed a fortress-type stone building with gun ports which still serves as a barn today. At the time this building was constructed the marauding Apache still roamed free in the area. The ranch was sold to George Marlow in 1885.

George Marlow was born in Montreal, Canada, along the St. Lawrence River in 1850. He had large cattle and sheep interests in Arizona. Marlow ran between three and four thousand head of cattle on his Superstition range when there was sufficient water and feed, and he certainly overgrazed these desert lands. Marlow owned and operated the ranch until his death on May 27, 1890. James Bark purchased the ranch in mid July of that year.

James A. Bark was born near New York City in 1860, and arrived in Arizona Territory in 1881. He was a printer who had turned to livestock raising and farming after settling in Arizona Territory. Bark was truly an interesting personality in early Arizona territorial days. He not only was interested in cattle raising, he was also an avid prospector constantly searching for an El Dorado. Bark’s lifelong prospecting partner was Sims Ely, general manager of the Salt River Water User’s Association. Together they searched the Superstition Mountains for the elusive Dutchman’s Lost Mine. Bark and Ely both made great contributions to the history of Arizona and to the legend and lore of this infamous lost mine story.

James Bark sold his ranch to William Augustus Barkley and a partner in 1907. The Bark Ranch soon became [known] as the Quarter Circle U Ranch because of Barkley’s brand. Gus and Gertrude Barkley operated the Quarter Circle U and the Quarter Circle W ranches from 1907-1955. The Quarter Circle W was also the 3Rs ranch.

Barkley passed away in October of 1955. Gertrude and her son, William Thomas Barkley, operated the ranch until 1963. Sometime after 1965 the ranch was sold to a conglomerate. Eventually Charles Backus acquired the ranch in 1977 and continues to operate it today. Like many other old ranches in Pinal County the Quarter Circle U Ranch is part [of] our heritage and legacy.