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Dude Ranch Foundation

History of the Dude Ranch Foundation

The Dude Ranch Foundation began in 1988 by Mark Grubbs. Mark and his wife, Amy, had a rich background in dude ranching and were determined to keep the industry and heritage alive. Mark’s dream was to establish a fund to give scholarships to young people who wanted to be in the Dude Ranch industry.  Funding was to be obtained from an annual auction held during the Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) Convention.

In 2016 The Educational Trust Board of Directors voted to expand their mission and change the name to the Dude Ranch Foundation. 

Dude Ranch Foundation Mission – Keeping the Real West Alive.

To protect and preserve the history of Dude Ranching by maintaining a museum and archives for educating the public on the historical nature of the dude ranching industry. Additionally, our mission is to financially assist in the educations of persons wishing to pursue employment or careers in the dude ranch industry and supporting industries.

The scholarship fund has been administered by our Executive Director (s) and the Foundation Board of Directors since its’ inception to the present. The scholarship program began awarding scholarships in 1990; there were only 2 given and the total of both was just $600.  In April, 2018, the Foundation had their annual spring meeting in Cody, WY. They awarded 14 scholarships totaling $28,000. This brings the grand total of scholarships given since 1990 to $336,600. See the list of 2018-2019 scholarship recipients here

Sarah Stevenson and Russell True, Board members, had pitched the idea of having the DRA purchase a house or building that could become the “home” of the DRA. Ironically, a building was available for purchase across the street from the historic Irma Hotel, located in one of the most authentically western towns, Cody, WY. The Board of Directors visited the building and could see the potential, with a motivated seller the potential grew. Everyone realized it was a fantastic opportunity but understood the financial challenges that would be presented. 

Russell and Sarah made a decision to loan the down payment to the association in order to facilitate moving forward with the plan to purchase our very own “Heritage Center and Museum.”  Their generosity was and still is an inspiration to all in the dude ranch industry. The loans were later converted to donations for the Heritage Center. 

Dude Ranch Foundation

Dude Ranch Foundation

 Dude Ranch Foundation Heritage Center and Museum

The Heritage Center and Museum is full of donated items and historical pieces that were instrumental in the development and preservation of dude ranching. The Foundation plans to continue to add interesting historical items to combine with the already in place items. These items along with website and brochures are available to provide an unequaled educational opportunity that introduces dude ranches to western travelers. 

The ranches of the Dude Ranchers’ Association are portrayed in the museum through their brochures as well as any items they have donated to the museum. The items do have explanations of what they are and what ranch they have come from. Many of the ranches in the association are very historical and have been in existence for 75+ years. 

The Klondike Ranch, located in Buffalo, Wyoming is a ranch rich with history of the American West. 


Klondike Ranch – Rugged, Friendly & Unchanging

Klondike is an historic cattle ranch established in 1886. The ranch is nestled in the midst of the most unspoiled and beautiful country in America. Four times the size of Luxembourg, Johnson County, Wyoming, is home to just eight thousand people. This is the American West, as it once was – rugged, friendly and unchanging.

In the early days of the West, pioneers discovered the cool, cottonwood shaded stream which is now known as Crazy Woman Creek. They followed the creek to where it rushes forth from a deep canyon on the face of the Big Horns, found it good and settled there.

Years later the ranch site passed to a successful prospector of the famous Klondike Gold Rush and was renamed Klondike.

The Cattle Wars

The Johnson County Cattle War and battle at the TA Ranch occurred in April of 1892. The TA is only about 5 miles from Klondike, and I am sure that you could hear the rifle shots from here. I have not heard about any of Klondike’s landowners being directly involved. Frank Canton owned land just down the road from Klondike, about 3 miles. It is alleged that he was involved, probably directly, in the murder of John Tisdale. Click here for more.

 Dude Ranch Foundation

Old photo from the corral at the Klondike Ranch

The Dude Ranch Foundation also plays a vital role in the safety of horseback riders by providing a horse safety program. The Dude Ranch Foundation Horse Safety Program is an endeavor to assist ranches in managing risks and considering safety in their ongoing effort to provide their guests with a positive experience. The program relies upon the integrity of its members to review their program with consideration to the suggested Horse Safety and Risk Management Practices discussed in the program. In order to stay current with the program each ranch must attend a course at least once every three years.  The owner, operator or manager must attend a “Horse Safety and Adaptive First Aid Seminar” to remain in current standing.  Wranglers are encouraged to attend a “Wrangler Training Class” as offered at the beginning of each summer. The classes offered to the wranglers remain current for five years.

Horse Safety and Adaptive First Aid Seminars are offered at the annual Dude Ranchers’ Association Convention and throughout the spring. 

Wrangler Trainings are also offered throughout the spring. Please contact the Dude Ranch Foundation office for more information: or 307-587-2339.

Dude Ranch Foundation

Want to donate or become a member of the Dude Ranch Foundation? Click here to find out how! 


 Dude Ranch Foundation

We are a Non-Profit Organization – IRS Code 501 (c)3, TIN: 74-2519170



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The Dude Ranch Foundation supports the dude ranch industry through memberships of individuals like you. With a museum of dude ranch history, educational programs and scholarships the Dude Ranch Foundation keeps the real west alive.