In 1865 Camp McGarry was established at the location of the current Ranch Headquarters. It was a U.S. Army winter camp. Its mission was to protect traveling pioneers and freight wagon trains from Indian attack. By 1865 there were regular freight wagon trains traveling from the Sacramento Valley to Silver City after silver was discovered in Idaho. Protection was needed along this stretch of the trail, so the Army established a Fort near Summit Lake (now the Summit Lake Indian Reservation). In the winter, the army moved the Fort south to Soldier Meadows because it was quite a bit warmer due to its lower elevation and warm water available from the nearby warm and hot springs. Stone buildings and stables remain standing from the U.S. Army camp at Soldier Meadows Headquarters and at the Summit Lake Indian Reservation. The army abandoned Camp McGarry in 1871.
In the 1860’s, Nevada sold lands at Soldier Meadows to individuals to raise money for the State. The first record of taxes paid on Ranch interests at Soldier Meadows began in 1866. Various small ranches were started and operated by individuals throughout the area over the next several years until the 1880’s when Doc Glenn and E.W. Crutcher (the larger holders of Ranch lands in the area) sold out to Cattle Barons Miller and Lux. To control the region, Miller and Lux began to acquire the other smaller ranches in the late 1800’s. They called the region “Black Rock Ranch.” Growing and cutting hay for winter feed, raising Horses, Cattle and Sheep, the Black Rock wregion was a part of Miller and Lux’s Pacific Livestock Company which was formed in 1887.
The Miller and Lux Pacific Livestock Company became the largest Ranching operation in the Western United States. However, after the deaths of Miller and Lux, in 1926 the heirs began selling their Nevada holdings. Their holdings in the area sold to the Parman family who held it until 1937 when the Soldier Meadows Ranch was transferred to George and Hattie Sweeney. The Parmans worked out a deal to retain the Wheeler Ranch which is 21 miles South of Soldier Meadows and continued to farm various crops, raise horses and run both cattle and sheep.
After a series of different owners for the next several years, Soldier Meadows was transferred to Stanley and Gordon Van Vleck of California in October of 1959. Van Vleck, a pilot, also acquired the Wheeler Ranch. He built the dam at Mud Meadows and put in two airstrips: one at Soldier Meadows and one at the Wheeler. Van Vleck also greatly increased the amount of irrigated farmed land. The Van Vleck’s held and operated the Ranches until they were sold to the Baer Ranch in June of 1970. In August 1977 the Earp Family acquired the Baer Ranch (including Soldier Meadows, and Wheeler Ranch) and the Paiute Meadows Ranch as well as Leases in High Rock Canyon. In his writing “Historic Context for the Soldier Meadows Basin, ” David Valentine asserts Earp’s acquisitions were “probably the closest that the Black Rock Ranch has been to being reassembled since the dissolution of Miller and Lux.” The Earp Family sold to R.C. Roberts in about 1990, and R.C. Roberts established the guest ranch operation. Roberts sold the Ranch to the Estill Family in 1997 who scaled down the operation of the guest ranch and concentrated their efforts on raising calves.
The Ranch was recently acquired by the Kudrna Family/Kudrna Nevada, LLC. The Kudrnas' love the area and are dedicated to returning the Soldier Meadows area to once again be one of the finest Ranches in the State of Nevada. They are making many repairs and improvements throughout the private property and at specific locations on the surrounding range. They will raise quality beef cattle, and other livestock for food and also raise horses, cattle dogs and hunting dogs. The Soldier Meadows staff are dedicated to bringing back the area’s natural wildlife and to do so they realize they must repair the numerous damaged water resources and other resources of the range. They are also renewing the irrigation and restarting the farming of hay, alfalfa, and other crops at the Ranch. Soon, with cooperation from various Government Agencies, they will be able to repair and protect the Ranch’s many springs and other water resources. After their repair, the range waters will provide needed support for all the native fish, waterfowl, mule deer, antelope, big horn sheep, feral horses, burros and other wildlife and the relatively few domestic livestock allowed to roam this idyllic northwestern region of the great State of Nevada.