Dude Ranch History Video

Dude Ranchers Share their History in Equitrekking's Public Television Special

Learn about the history of dude ranches in America, including the Eaton brothers' first ranch and the original "dudes" in this video from Equitrekking Great American Ranches, a high definition PBS TV special.

Equitrekking host Darley Newman narrates this educational look at the U.S. legacy of guest ranches and Western history, including interviews with modern dude ranchers. Historical photographs edited with the "Ken Burns" effect bring this historical documentary video to life.

Learn more about Equitrekking and ranch vacations in Equitrekking's Vacation Guide and EquitrekkingTravel.com

Read the Transcript from this video clip:

KEN NEAL: The greatest service that we do to the American public is to allow them to enjoy their lands.

DARLEY NEWMAN: And dude ranches have been doing this since the late 19th century, when Howard Eaton and his brothers moved from Pittsburgh to the Dakotas and started what many believe to be the first American Dude Ranch.

KEN NEAL: The dude ranches were started by the Eaton Brothers in South Dakota. All these eastern guests were coming out for friends were coming out and they couldn’t to feed em, so they started charging them for meals and a new industry was born.

DARLEY: The Eatons had originally hoped that charging their friends would dissuade them from coming out and staying such a long time, but that wasn’t the case. Easterners loved being at the ranch and now that they were paying the Eatons, they had no guilt when they settled in for long visits. The Eatons moved to a picturesque Wyoming ranch in 1904, and began to expand their business of accepting paying guests, guests who would continue to tell others about their fantastic, rejuvenating time on the ranch.

DARLEY: Other ranches caught onto to this new dude industry, many finding guest ranching to be easier and more profitable than their former cattle operations. It was good for all of the parties involved. The ranchers were making more money and travelers were gaining access to a romantic, natural part of the country that before had seemed inaccessible. Guests could have Western adventures amid the relative safety of a ranch. Dude ranches were inspiring travelers to head out and ranchers were taking advantage of the business. Americans traveled to see America.