— at Sahuaro Ranch . . . —
Although some cows were probably always kept on the ranch to supply fresh milk and butter, it was not until after Richard W. Smith bought Sahuaro Ranch in 1927 that dairy cows were raised here commercially.
At first the Smith family sold only bulk milk. The cows were milked in the dairy barn, which was built in 1928, and the milk shipped to local dairies in cans. In 1932, under the supervision of Smith's son, Richard S. Smith, a retail dairy was established on the ranch and this milk house was built.
The first step in processing the milk was pasteurizing it to kill bacteria; this was done by heating the raw milk with steam from the boiler located outside the building. After refrigeration in a large built-in cooler, containers of milk were carried up to the pour room and drained into the separator below, which by centrifugal action divided the liquid into milk and cream.
On the Ranch Today
The dairy barn and milk house remain virtually unchanged since the late 1940s, when the Smiths stopped producing milk and closed the dairy. The pour room atop the exterior stairway was at one time moved away from the milk house, but it was reattached when the buildings were restored in the 1990s.
[Photo captions follow]
These two men worked as milkers for the Sahuaro Jersey Dairy. They are standing in front of the east end of the Dairy Barn. The Milk House is to the left and the back of the Blacksmith Shop is visible to the right. (Photo courtesy of the Glendale, Arizona Historical Society).
This view of the south side of the Milk House is from the 1930s, showing the lush vegetation around the Ranch as well as some of the original power lines and transformer. The tall structure on the roof is a cooling tower, which no longer exists. (Photo courtesy of Richard Smith).