Wyoming in the 1880s was an open range controlled by cattle kings. Blaming rustlers for cattle losses was popular among powerful stockgrowers. Although rustling was a problem, there was also concern about the influx of small operators who used government land grants which threatened the open range. Stock detectives were hired to protect large herds and to intimidate would-be ranchers. Small ranchers were labeled rustlers and cowboys suspected of rustling were blackballed and not allowed to work for the big outfits. In 1886-87 a devastating drought followed by the worst winter on record exposed poor management practices and caused financial collapse for many large operations.
In a final act of desperation, some radical members of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association planned an invasion of Johnson County for April of 1892 using hired gunmen. However the well laid plans were not successful. Following a day long shoot-out at the KC Ranch during which Nick Ray and Nate Champion were killed, the invaders headed for Buffalo. After being warned about the armed resistance in town, the self-proclaimed regulators holed up here, at the TA Ranch, then owned by sympathizer Dr. William Harris. Surrounded and besieged by a civilian posse for three days, the invaders surrendered to federal troops from nearby Ft. McKinney on April 13. They were eventually released, and all charges against them dismissed. This, the major confrontation of the invasion, marked the end of the open range cattle era.
The TA ranch is private property please do not enter without permission.