Geographically, Arizona was an ideal place for sheep ranching. The flocks could be wintered in the balmy deserts then driven up sheep trails to spend the spring and summers in the grassy meadows of the high country.
In Where Have All the Sheep Gone? Sheepherders and Ranchers in Arizona—A Disappearing Industry (Wheatmark, $19.95), Barbara G. Jaquay leaves no stone unturned in describing the long history of sheep ranching that began with the Spanish conquistadors in 1540 right up to the 21st century. During Arizona’s Territorial period, 1863-1912, it’s estimated that more than a million sheep inhabited the ranges.
Today, sheep ranching, which played such an important role in early Arizona is being swept away by the changing winds of time. Much of that change is the result of creeping suburbia, foreign competition, immigration restrictions and myriad government obstacles and regulations. Sadly, the business is going the way of the open range cowboy of yore. And, another piece of the American West will be lost.
— Marshall Trimble, author of Roadside History of Arizona.