08. Sheep

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    Dr. Chandler had a large sheep herd on his ranch.  Sheep ranching became a very lucrative business, and by 1934, other ranchers were raising over 42,000 head in Chandler.  Over 2 million pounds of wool were collected that year and sent to national markets.  The largest sheep ranchers in Chandler included the Dobsons, Andersens, Morgans, the Chandler Improvement Company, and the Valley Bank & Trust Company.  Immigrants from France’s Basque region, such as the Etchamendy family, also raised sheep.  The photo below shows farm hands corralling Dobson sheep to load them onto railroad cars on their way to market.

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    Ranchers would move sheep from the Valley to the mountains for summer grazing in cooler climates to produce a better coat.  The most popular trail was the Heber-Reno trail, which would take the sheep through 200 miles of Arizona wilderness on a 52 day trek.  At the trail’s end were large pastures at an elevation of 8,000 feet. The sheep herds reversed the trek back down to the Valley in the fall.  Dobson sheep cross the Blue Point sheep bridge on the Salt River, northeast of Chandler in the photo below. 

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