Cultrual Resource Inventory II

The Painted Pony Resort and Ranch currently encompasses 316 acres of high New Mexico desert.  The 80 acre resort estate was built, owned, and occupied by a software entrepreneur, John Mcafee, while the rest of the property was part of a wolf sanctuary.  Previous to its subdivision the land was part of the Ned Hall cattle operation which operated until the passing of Ned Hall in the 1990's.

Prior to becoming part of a cattle operation there is evidence the land was farmed.  Old fence lines and the foundation of a house are still visible on the southern end of the property.  Evidence for farming as opposed to ranching is in the form of 2 pieces of farm equipment still on the property.  A baler sits at the entrance to the resort expansion on the east side of Painted Pony Rd and a hay rake was discovered in the riverbed.  In addition to an old wind mill a 23' hand dug well still exists just north of the homestead, see below.  This homestead is shown on the 1917 topographic map of the area and the discovery of an electric range burner  in the foundation of the home site is consistent with the house existing after rural electrification which reached Rodeo and the San Simon valley in 1953 (Jr. Gomez, personal communication).  Based on these observations, a farm existed for at least 35 years in this location.  Farming in the boot heel of New Mexico with its arid climate was the result of a series of homestead acts which allowed citizens to claim land for personal use to encourage the settlement of public lands and beginning in the 1870's small farms began to appear on the landscape in southern New Mexico.  Unfortunately the allotment size was not adequate to support farming in an arid climate and many small farm holdings in the desert southwest eventually failed with the land returning to cattle ranching (1).

new mexico resort property
316 acre Painted Pony Resort and Ranch 
old topographic map of PPR
Topographic overlay on satellite imagery showing building locations
old fence lines and buildings map
The location of old fence lines and structures
abandoned farm well
old well next to the San Simon riverbed
hand dug well
interior of the 23' dug well

(1) Hadley, Diane. 2005. Landholding Systems and Resource Management in the Sky Island Borderlands.  USDA Forest Service Proceedings RMRS-P-36.


  1. They had cotton fields in Rodeo,N.M. that is why gin road has the name from the cotton gin. Lots of old equipment down that road.

  2. Agriculture has seen several boom and bust cycles here in the valley. The last was in the 70's when the water table dropped nearly 100' in places. Fortunately it has recovered a significant amount, but the 23' well on the property is still dry. The water table here is at 110' as this year.

  3. Although not mentioned by any readers if you view the last photograph (click to enlarge) you will notice a snake on a ledge halfway down the well. Don't know how he got there or if he will successfully make the climb out, but the last 2 times I checked he was not visible.