History of the Rawhide Ranch
Owners Dan "Hoss" Cartwright - land developer, and David Stirsman - attorney, have accomplished what they set out to do...the fulfillment of a dream.
Being longtime friends and business partners with common interests, "Hoss" and "Stirs" have traveled throughout the USA visiting dude ranches, experiencing cross country horseback trail rides, and enjoying the excitement of reliving the life of the Old West.
Wishing to share the "city slicker" experience, they purchased the Rawhide Ranch facility in September of 2001, and followed their dreams to Brown County, Indiana.
At the time of acquisition the previous owner had invested a considerable amount of resources to develop the physical structures known as the Ranch House, Buck Inn and a rental cabin (which is now the office).
Hoss sent his daughter, Jennifer Cartwright (now Peddycord), to the ranch to learn the business and start what you now know as Rawhide Ranch USA. Shortly after taking over, they installed a state approved waste water treatment system (those fenced in boxes behind the barn). This system was designed for maximum occupancy 7 days a week in the Buck Inn, so there would never be future problems with disposal water. The same year they finished the Buck Inn rooms and started renting them out.
The following year they built the riding arena, which is now visible along the drive as you enter the ranch. This was formerly located behind the Buck Inn, but was removed when installing the waste water treatment system. The riding arena was used for a couple horse shows and for kids’ retreats, as well as team building exercises. Since that time the arena has been mostly dedicated as a horse paddock. This is the same year the round pen was built in front of the Buck Inn.
In 2003 there was a desperate need to increase the office space and make the office more visible to the visitors of the ranch. The office was located behind the Ranch House in the structure we now call the “Executive Office” – aka Derek’s office. The old cabin was converted into the office and ranch staff residence. The owners knew that the ranch had reached a point that it required 24 hour staffing. Once that structure was completed, the focus was then turned to the land and trails. Several new trails were built (one of them being the hayride trail) and the old ones were extended.
The increase in horse business led the ranch into finding a full time horse wrangler who would fit the bill. It just happened that at this time Hoss' assistant in his real estate business had a brother looking for work. Jeff Snyder had spent a year or two riding all over the country after being laid off from his previous job. It wasn't too long after Jeff came out to meet the owners of Rawhide Ranch USA that he joined the adventure.
2004 and 2005 saw the Ranch business really start to boom. This required several major capital improvement projects due to the everyday use of the rooms, common areas, the drives and parking lots. This included a new asphalt road, new stoned parking areas and installing a new roof on the Ranch House. Jennifer Peddycord felt her calling to be a full time mother and the search began to find a replacement for the Ranch Manager position. Derek Clifford answered that call for a replacement and moved to the ranch in March of 2005. His first task on the ranch was to remove the first of the two hot tubs due to its old age. It was located on the small deck by the Buck Inn fire pit.
By the year 2006, the exterior of the barn was showing its age. They had the exterior of the barn partially resided, added a fresh coat of paint and had the decks re-stained.
The interior of the Buck Inn was beginning to show some wear and tear due to the large volume of people visiting. Major repair and remodeling was done in 2007 to the interior of the Buck Inn and the Ranch House. This included purchasing all new leather furniture for the common areas of the Buck Inn and new color scheme.
In 2008 the need to replace the air conditioner and furnace in the Ranch House presented itself. These items were brought from the crawlspace and into the laundry room. The boiler unit in the Buck Inn finally died and we installed a new Energy Star hot water system in the Buck Inn.
The increase in weddings and large events on the ranch showed us that we needed to improve the interior of the barn. Major renovations in the barn began in the winter of 2009. These renovations included a Fire Alarm system in the entire building.
It was also the winter of 2009 that several great minds met on the porch of Rawhide Ranch. It was due to this conversation that eventually Holler Hoppin' Zip Lines was established. Team Effect Inc. and Rawhide Ranch USA developed a relationship that allowed this new activity to exist on the ranch.
The early part of 2010 brought a large addition and a few smaller improvements. Holler Hoppin’ Zip Lines was in construction and completed by June. The original Holler Hoppin' tour consisted of 4 lines and an hour experience. We decided the Buck Inn interior could use a little freshening and all the rooms received a fresh coat of paint along with a new color. The hot water heater in the Ranch House was replaced with a new energy efficient system and relocated to the laundry room next to the new furnace the next month.
It was in the winter of 2010 that Jeff Snyder decided to leave the ranch to pursue other adventures and the hunt for a full time wrangler began. It was spring of 2011 that Dusty McDaniel joined the ranch as the full time wrangler.
It was at this point that the Ranch was able to spend some money on items the customers would directly see instead of crucial operational components that the customer never sees (hot water systems, HVAC, septic, and such). Through 2011, the retaining walls were installed in front of the Ranch House. The Round pen was rebuilt using pine from the ranch property. Retaining walls were also installed around the round pen and the front parking area of the Buck Inn. The fire pit of the Buck Inn and the launch for zip #1 was rebuilt as well.
The Clifford's (Derek and Sara) have their wedding anniversary in October. Through experience, they knew that you were unable to get a small cabin that would house only two people for under $200 a night without renting at least two nights. They knew that if they were wanting this, others were as well. The ranch agreed to the concept and decided to remove the large deck to the east of the Ranch House. This structure was under-utilized and that site had the best view. The deck was partially removed and the lumber recycled into the structure that was built on the portion of the deck that remained. The old pool house bathrooms were added onto which allowed a little of the history to remain. The lumber on the interior walls came from David Stirsman's property in Carmel. The name was easy to find. A good friend of the ranch, previous ranch partner, best friend of Hoss and Wild Bunch brother, Carnie Brouse, died that year. It was fitting to honor this amazing man by naming the newest addition of the ranch The Brouse House. The first customers of the Brouse House took residence October 2, 2011.
Major improvements for the Buck Inn Banquet Barn was completed in the early spring of 2012. The increased public traffic along with an increase in weddings showed the need for real restrooms. This led to the conversion of a stall in the Buck Inn barn into a two-seat restroom. As this project rolled out, it expanded into an exterior stall which created the Cowboy Lounge. The lounge is a place for overnight guests to hangout if the weather is sour and/or wedding guests to use as a bar. The first two stalls in the barn had been used as a food service area which worked but was not ideal due to the gravel floor. Once the restrooms and the Cowboy Lounge were complete, we put down hardwood flooring in these two stalls. Now, serving food out of a stall is a no brainer. This led the ranch into converting the east side of the Buck Inn barn into a human area instead of horse area. Holler Hoppin' Zip Lines’ command central was located inside the barn which was not conducive to large events. They were relocated to the first two exterior stalls on the east side. A paved walkway, landscaping and a paved floor in the zip stalls were completed by April of 2012.
In March of 2012 Kisha Henderson came to the ranch to take over the ranch office and part time wrangler position. This was the same time that Sean Anderson was hired on as the full time ranch maintenance man. These two individuals brought much relief to the ranch whose business had increased greatly.
It was the middle of the summer when Dusty McDaniel received the opportunity to take over a cattle ranch out west and left the ranch. A month later, Drew Handley (who was the ranch farrier) took over the head wrangler position. It was at this same time that we met Gil Hartness. Gil became the ranch part-time wrangler.
The owners of the ranch have always dreamed of installing a commercial kitchen and offering food on the ranch. This dream was fulfilled in the winter of 2012-2013. The ranch staff began demolition on the 7 remaining horse stalls on the east side of the barn. Concrete was poured shortly after Christmas and construction began. Three stalls were allocated to the kitchen and the four remaining stalls were designated the dining space. The ranch staff became very busy the next two months.
One of the toughest decisions was the name of the new dining space. What do we name this new operation of the Ranch? Several months went by with emails tossed around. Hours were spent looking through the internet trying to come up with old west terms that had a real meaning and sounded good together. It wasn't until Kisha Henderson came up with "The Banded Rooster" that the dining area had an official name. Banded is an old west term for hungry, and rooster, well we had a rooster on the ranch who would chase Kisha into the office every morning.
The goal was to have this new operation open and running before spring break hit in 2013. The project became a little larger than we had anticipated and that date was pushed back a little. The decision was made to expand into the east paddock and pave the entire side. You can't have a ranch without a large grill. A large grill was purchased and the grill lean-to was built to keep the county happy. That led us to replacing the fence on the same side which eventually made us re-landscape the entire east side of the barn. Retaining walls were installed, mulch spread, plants planted and a fresh coat of paint on that lower side of the barn.
Who was going to cook? We were lucky enough to come across Kim and Frank Jones who previously operated Calzone Jones in Nashville, Indiana. The combination of these two, mixed with their amazing Biscuit and Gravy recipe, sealed the deal. Frank is an amazing cook and musician, while Kim is an amazing cook and able to keep Frank in line.
The Banded Rooster officially served its first meal on March 24, 2013. This new operation on the ranch allows us to offer more to our guests and the public. The first Campfire Concert was hosted on May 25 of 2013.
The winter of 2013 into 2014 brought the changing of the ladle. Silas Jones, who is the son of Frank Jones, wanted to take over the head chef position. The ranch was lucky to have this motivated and amazing chef join the crew. Shortly after giving him the reigns, Silas changed the lunch menu to include his gourmet sandwich creations along with the amazing kettle chips. Silas is equally known for his breakfast, which is his favorite meal to prepare.