SJ Ranch Horse Sale







History of Ranching in San Juan County

San Juan County, Utah has always been an area suited for large scale cattle ranching.  The heyday of ranching in southeastern Utah began around 1880 when the large cattle companies of the time began arriving and taking over the rich grazing lands.


Outfits such as the Lacey Cattle Company, the Carlisle Brothers, and the Pittsburgh Cattle Company at one time ran over 70,000 head of cattle in the canyons and on the mountain slopes.  This was a time when the West was still open range and the only authority the ranches had to deal with was the Utes, the Navajos, and the Mormon Pioneers.


Drought, overgrazing, and low markets forced many of the big outfits to disband.  Ironically, as these operations were going out of business, a Mormon cowboy from Salina came to the area and began building a livestock empire.  Joan Albert Scorup, known as Al, had a rags to riches story that was eventually responsible for his induction into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.


Al came to San Juan with not much more than a saddle horse and a pack animal.  He gathered wild cattle left behind by the big outfits and pushed them onto ranges than most cattlemen considered unusable.  By the time of his death in 1959, he was co-owner and manager of the Scorup-Somerville Cattle Company.  The “SS” Cattle Company ran 10,000 head of cattle on an area of over 2 million acres.  In 1927 the company held a grazing permit for 6,780 cattle on Forest Service lands, the largest ever granted by the federal government.


Today the ranching industry of San Juan is made up of many family operations.  In a county where once over 100,000 animals grazed, today only about 20,000 cattle use the ranges.  Innovations in the science of range management and government regulations have reduced the herds to a more manageable level.


The herds may be smaller, but the geography of the land has not changed a bit.  Where cattle management is becoming more mechanized, a man on horseback will never be replaced in the rough, rocky canyons of Southeastern Utah.  In San Juan County, cowboys are still cowboys, and horses are their most important tool.


For that reason, we are able to bring our San Juan Ranch Horse Sale clientele the top of the line ranch horses with the miles and wet saddle blankets to make them the best.