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Short History of American Dude Ranches and the Joya Real

Short History of American Dude Ranches and the Joya Real

The "Dude Ranch" began popping up in American culture in the late 19th century, because of the rise in romanticism in the American West.

Everyone secretly wanted to be a cowboy like the one they saw up on the big screen and read about in dime novels. The lure of the cattle drive, fighting wild Indians, and riding a pony into a beautiful sunset was cemented in the minds of adults as wells as kids in post-WWI America. Industrious landowners in Texas, Arizona, and other western states beckoned Eastern tourists to guest ranches to enjoy the amenities, breath in the fresh country air, but more importantly to get a chance to play the role of the "cowboy" they had always dreamed of.

Some of the larger dude ranches were almost like small towns. Taxidermy shops, saloons, tiny grocery stores, and cabins lined a main road and guests usually fished, rode horses, hiked, or hunted before meeting up at mealtimes in the kitchen cabin to eat family style with everyone staying at the ranch. As the ranches grew in popularity, they became less primal and more of an escape for the wealthiest of Americans with lavish guesthouses and coursed out meals.

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My grandparents used to manage a guest ranch near New Braunfels, Texas called Joya Real. (pronounced HOY-ya rè-AL) We'd stay the summers with them with the only rule being to stay out of the way of guests. We would swim, collect feathers from their grounds-roaming peacocks (hello Freebird Collection!), ride horses, and play shuffleboard.  We could go into their big industrial kitchen and get whatever we wanted to eat or drink. It was like our own little summers of paradise.

Odell McMullen, our paternal grandfather, tending one of his colts at the Joya Real Ranch.

In homage to our grandparents and dude ranches, we created our Joya Real Jacket as part of our Spring 2012 Collection.

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Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch - May 16, 2016

Fantastic pictures! A walk down memory lane! LOVE the Joya Real Jacket.

Cheryl - May 16, 2016

check the boots out on today’s Faacebook:!/DoubleDRanchTX

Carol Scott - May 16, 2016

Fabulous! I want some jodphurs! AND, LET’S SEE THOSE BOOTS IN THE BOXES!!

Cheryl - May 16, 2016

I don’t remember Mr. Karger, but I was so young. As far as the main house, I believe it was purchased by a non-profit and is private now. I would love to go back and see it.

suzanne - May 16, 2016

When we were little, my family and I went with our grandfather to the Joya Real to see the ponies, especially Centavo…the name of the person we remember there is Ken Karger? That place was so lovely! Does the hotel still stand?My grandfather, Jack Porter, was friends with Mr. Karger. Such lovely memories of that place!

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