the history

In 1924, The Gerald Brown family purchased the property, which would become the Crescent Lazy H Ranch.

Located along the west bank of the Snake River and nestled under the Teton mountain range, it was destined to become the most historic dude ranch in Wyoming. Soon after the purchase, the family began to make remarkable improvements to the property. Wesley Bircher, a historic local and craftsman, was hired to build the Crescent Lazy H Lodge and numerous dude cabins. Bircher contracted Mr. Mel Annis to access the details of the lodge interior. “He could make almost anything of wood or iron; his lodge interior at the Crescent H Dude Ranch is one of the most beautiful in Wyoming” (Sandoval, Judith Hancock: Historic Ranches of Wyoming).

The Brown’s began operating the Crescent Lazy H Dude Ranch in 1927. Their sons, Edward and Freddy, were active in the ranch operations and guided the guests in daily activities. Edward and his wife, Catherine Yokel Brown, (Catherine is historically documented as being the first female wrangler in the Jackson Hole valley), accompanied the guests on elk hunts and all aspects of horseback riding adventures. Freddy, a local mountaineer and ski extremist, would guide the guests on mountain climbing trips. The Crescent Lazy H Dude Ranch offered hunting trips, trout fishing, mountaineering and horseback riding. The ranch guests would also enjoy local rodeos and many nights by campfires listening to western stories.

In early brochures for the guest ranch, the Grand Teton mountain was described as “The Matterhorn of America” and guest rates were $10 a day or $250 per month. Special cars on the Union Pacific Railroad brought guests from Cleveland or Chicago to Victor, Idaho for $76 round trip where a ranch automobile would bring guests to the Crescent Lazy H Ranch on a 25 mile ride over Teton pass that was “something long to be remembered”.

In the fall of 1932, Mr. and Mrs. Jack H. Hinz of Cleveland, Ohio came to the dude ranch on an elk hunt. It was brought to the attention of Jack and his wife, Kady, that the ranch was suffering from financial trouble. The Brown’s had over-extended themselves in building and equipping the property, and soon after it was completed, the Depression arrived and there were few dudes visiting the ranch. The Hinz’s, along with a handful of businessmen from the Cleveland area decided to take over payments of the ranch. The idea was that the Brown family would continue operating the guest ranch and would redeem it in one year if they were able. After two years of struggling, the Brown family sold the Crescent Lazy H Ranch to the Hinz family and their investors in 1935. Ed and Catherine Brown stayed on as managers for several years before moving to Ohio.

The Hinz daughters, Sally and Jacqueline, were active in the summer rituals of running the guest ranch. By now the name was shortened to Crescent H Dude Ranch, because no one was “Lazy” anymore. The girls would work along with the Yokel children, Catherine’s brothers and sisters, every summer in their teenage years. They would clean cabins and serve meals in the lodge for guests. “We would ride our horses every morning and evening”, quotes Mrs. Jacqueline Hinz Parker in a recent interview. “Every Friday night we had a fish fry down by the river. Sometimes we would roast the “pig on a stick”. “We would sing songs while a wrangler played the guitar. And for hours we would laugh and tell stories with the ranch guests.”

The Hinz family did not accept just any guests to visit the ranch. In order to become a “dude” on Crescent H Dude Ranch, potential guests had to send references for their family and explain their interest in visiting the ranch. “We wanted to make sure they were just like us”, says Mrs. Jacqueline H. Parker.

In 1942, Sally and Jacqueline Hinz decided to operate the guest ranch. Every summer through their college years at the University of Arizona, they would bring friends from school and along with the help of the local staff, successfully operated the guest ranch. Eventually, the girls had families of their own and the friends and associates of the Hinz family were the only guests to visit the Crescent H Dude Ranch.

In the fall of 1964, Mr. Herbert Allen and Donald H. Albrecht of Southern California, purchased the Crescent H Dude Ranch for 1 million dollars, The “Dude” was taken from the name and shortened to the widely recognized, Crescent H Ranch.

The new owners had unique plans for the guest ranch. They would establish the Crescent H Ranch as one of the finest fishing camps in the country. Local professional fly-fisherman, Vern Bressler, informed Mr. Albrecht that the riparian lands (land between the Snake River and the Ranch property) was home to some of the finest spring creeks in the country. Mr. Bressler was a longtime friend of Leigh Perkins, who owned and established the nationally recognized Orvis Fly-Fishing and Outfitting Company. After a few business meetings, while fishing the Crescent H spring creeks, Perkins agreed to partnership the Orvis Company’s name with the Crescent H Ranch. With seven miles of spring creeks, ponds and the magnificent Snake River, the Crescent H became North America’s original Orvis endorsed fly fishing Lodge.

The Liar’s Den is the notable establishment for the fly fishermen who visit the ranch. The fully stocked Orvis store, located on the ranch property, made fishing accessible and convenient for the fishing men and women. Guests returned to the Liar’s Den after a day on the river or creeks to share the stories of their favorite fishing spots or the size of their biggest catch of the day, hence the “Liar’s Den”.

The Crescent H vacation combined the old west lifestyle with a taste of four star treatment. Guests would dine in the historic lodge enjoying meals prepared by professional chefs. After a day of horseback riding or floating on the Snake River, they would return to their cabins, which had been cleaned and made up with wine and fruit for an afternoon refreshment. The guests enjoyed nights with bonfires, barbeques and music and a trip into Jackson for the weekly rodeo. On Wednesday mornings, the guests would ride horses down to the spring creeks for a traditional cowboy breakfast.

In 1997, Mr. John Thornton of Chattanooga, Tennessee purchased the Crescent H Ranch in a public auction for 52 million dollars. He continued to operate the guest ranch for three years. In addition, Mr. Thornton created a low-density development, which yielded 30-35 acre tracts. In 1999, he donated 22.5 million dollars worth of property to the Jackson Hole Land Trust in efforts to preserve the natural setting and wildlife of the historical land.

On the guest register in 1999 and again in early 2000 was the name of W. Allan Jones Jr., Cleveland, Tennessee businessman. Known in his hometown as an environmentalist and tree expert, Jones found the trees and beauty of Wyoming to his liking. He and his family had visited Jackson Hole on several occasions-enjoying the beauty of the area and the relaxing venue. So it was no surprise that Jones was looking for a possible family retreat when Thornton decided to sell the ranch.

Jones purchased the Crescent H Ranch on October 14, 2002. Allan, his wife Janie, and their children instantly fell in love with the serenity of the Jackson ranch. Jones, along with his staff and management team, re-established the Ranch as a fly-fishing destination venue until its purchase in 2009 by a family trust dedicated to the conservation of this exceptional property and the ranch’s scenic and wild lands.

In the past 85 years, the Crescent H property has been enjoyed by hundreds of visitors and present homeowners. Although having developed and changed with the times, the Crescent H relishes in the ambience and character of its momentous days. The traditions and western lifestyle of the Brown family and the Crescent Lazy H Ranch, remain present through the rustic guest cabins and the timeless stories hidden in the walls of the original Crescent H Lodge.