The historic ghost town of Hermosa located on the Ladder Ranch
The historic ghost town of Hermosa located on the Ladder Ranch
The historic ghost town of Hermosa located on the Ladder Ranch
The historic ghost town of Hermosa located on the Ladder Ranch

Ladder Ranch History

Barn at Ladder Ranch in New Mexico

Ted Turner Expeditions’ Ladder Ranch New Mexico possesses a rich, colorful history that begins long before the ranch was one of America’s most exclusive destinations. Archeologists have discovered that prehistoric people called “Mimbres,” which means “willow” in Spanish, lived in this area leading up to and following the Classic Mimbres period (1000-1130 CE). Their presence on the ranch is evidenced by what is left of their houses, pottery, and petroglyph-pictograph “rock art,” which is still present on Ladder Ranch today. Later, the area was occupied by the Chiricahua Apache tribe, home to Victorio, the famous Warm Spring Apache leader. Victorio fought U.S. Calvary troops during the “Apache Wars,” and at least two significant battles were fought on land that is now Ladder Ranch.

Prior to 1882, The Ladder Ranch was known as “The Great John Cross” for the brand that was used to identify its cattle on open ranges. In 1897, the Ladder-style brand was first recorded, hence the name “Ladder Ranch.” For a time, The Ladder Ranch was traditionally operated as a cattle ranch and de-facto wildlife conservatory where sheep and cattle roamed free during the ownership of the late oil magnate Robert O. Anderson (1960-1985).

The outstanding biodiversity of The Ladder Ranch was not recognized or thoroughly appreciated until Ted Turner purchased the property in 1992. Since then, New Mexico’s Ladder Ranch has been a focal point for several native imperiled species restoration programs headed by the Turner Endangered Species Fund in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Native species serviced include the Mexican Grey Wolf, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, and Bolson Tortoise.

The Ladder Ranch is a prime example of Ted Turner’s vision to restore and manage a large landscape for its conservation and economic values while demonstrating sustainable ranching practices. Not only is The Ladder Ranch one of the closest things America has to a true safari park, it’s second only to the US National Parks in its scope and accessibility.



Certainly one of Ladder Ranch’s most intriguing features is that of Hermosa, once a small mining community, but now a ghost town situated near Palomas Creek on property. Hermosa was founded in 1883 by miners and J.C. Plemmons, who established the first residence and mercantile along the southern fork of the Palomas Creek, where he positioned his cattle. Plemmons was most likely drawn to the area due to the presence of the Palomas mining camp, where he recognized the possibility for a town, which eventually grew to have its own literary society. In 1889, the town of Hermosa was hit by a devastating flash flood and never recovered. Today, all that remains is a mercantile, a hotel, and a log post office.

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