Tanque Verde Ranch is one of America's old-time cattle and guest ranches. Tanque Verde is Spanish for green tank or green pool and now designates all the area east of Tucson rising into the Rincon Mountains. Heavily watered and with substantial artesian pressure, this location was an ideal desert watering hole. Originally, it was settled by the Pima Indians in the 1600s near the Cottonwood Grove, who carved bedrock metates began grinding stones out of the nearby rock outcroppings.
Don Emilio Carrillo, born in Santa Cruz, Sonora Mexico, moved his family to Tucson in 1856, shortly after the Gadsden Purchase of 1853 which brought southern Arizona under the control of the United States. He started ranching in the Tanque Verde Valley in 1868 where he had the protection of Tucson's Fort Lowell patrols from the marauding Apaches. Carrillo became quite successful, which sought the attention of bandits who, on May 7th, 1904 raided the ranch demanding his money. They hung him by his neck over the beam in the present-day card room; somehow Carrillo survived but died four years later due to complications from the ordeal. His son, Rafael, assumed leadership but, later, sold the ranch to Jim Converse in the mid-1920s.
Cattleman Jim Converse introduced better genetics to the herd and became a very successful rancher in the Tucson Valley. Following the example of the Eaton Brothers in Wolf, Wyoming, Jim built the present-day Ramada to welcome Eastern guests to the Tanque Verde Ranch in 1928. Willing to pay a fee for the ranch life experience, these guests provided Jim with enthusiastic labor and much-needed cash. Being a brash cattleman, a dedicated hunter, and terrific raconteur, Jim was an exceptional host. Unfortunately, on September 29th, 1945, after a few drinks at a local bar, he accidentally shot a Mexican cowboy. Enduring a controversial set of trials, he was ultimately convicted of manslaughter. The experience, however, sapped his enthusiasm and he sold the ranch in 1957 to Brownie Cote.
Forgoing a promising law career, Brownie decided to follow his passion for developing the lives of the youth, purchasing Camp Lincoln for Boys in 1921 and Camp Lake Hubert for girls in 1924, near Brainerd Minnesota. Being successful, he acquired Grand View Lodge in 1937 to accommodate parents visiting their children in his camps. In 1944 he purchased the Desert Willow Ranch in Tucson Arizona to offer year-round employment to his seasonal Minnesota employees. Responding to Tucson's rapid growth, he acquired the Tanque Verde Ranch in 1957. The ranch, bordering the Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest, offered unlimited business opportunities.