Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bouquet Ranch, a desert oasis

Bouquet Ranch   July 11, 2006
This is a photo taken at what used to be The Bouquet Ranch. It was named for Charles Bouquet who homesteaded the place in the late 1800's. It's located east of Tonto Creek in Arizona. (In the Tonto National Forest near Punkin Center) He didn't ranch cattle or sheep like most early ranchers did, instead, he grew fruit. Oranges, lemons, apples, peaches and pears, many of the trees he had shipped from France. Imagine keeping young trees alive on a ship and then on a trip by wagon through the desert. His original intent when he emigrated to the USA from France was to raise cattle, but he found he had a bountiful natural spring on his property, a rare commodity in these parts. Since he'd worked in his father's orchards in France, he figured he'd be better off doing something that he knew instead of trying to raise livestock.
Not much is left of the old ranch today except for a few timbers and some stones, unfortunately, it's been bulldozed. It sits on private property within the National Forest. The one thing that remains is the beautiful, shady oasis, the Bouquet spring. There are about 10 enormous palm trees Charles Bouquet planted at the water's edge with their roots in the water. They're flourishing today. It's hard to imagine such a place exists in the Arizona desert, especially on a 110 degree day like today.
When we were there, it was full of bullfrogs and water birds, taking refuge beneath the palm tree's heavy skirts. What a site!