Did you ever wonder where the term “dude” came from? Who was the first to use it? What was the original meaning? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says that the origin of the term is unknown, but that its earliest use goes back to 1883. Definition number one is that of a man extremely fastidious in dress and manner, or “dandy”. The second definition calls a dude a city dweller, particularly an Easterner, who is unfamiliar with life on the range. The term “dude ranch”, used first in 1921, is defined as a vacation resort offering activities, such as horseback riding, typical of western ranches.
These definitions do agree with the history of the development of dude ranches. The story goes that city dwellers back East in the early 1900s who were looking for unusual adventures began boarding west-bound trains and disembarking in remote stations primarily in Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana and heading for the local ranches. They were welcomed by the ranchers who provided them with whatever housing was available, fed them with the ranch hands, and put them to work. The elegant eastern city-dwellers spent the summer riding with the ranch hands, working with their hands, getting dusty, dirty and sweaty. By the time they were ready to return to the city they were quite familiar with life on a western ranch! By the way, this experience included young women as well as men.
As time went on, vacationing on western ranches became popular with families, too. Families would typically stay at the ranch for at least seven days at a time. Many of the older dude ranches in the west can tell stories of families coming year after year until the children were grown and began bringing their families. Not only had the host families and guest families become fast friends by this time, but guests had also formed friendships among themselves.
Of course, during that time ranch owners were building lodging and dining facilities for their guests, and charging a fee for the dude ranch experience. Some ranches also added amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, souvenir shops and even spas. A number of the dude ranches nowadays are quite sophisticated and elegant, but many are traditional working ranches that continue to host guests in the traditional manner.
Over time, the concept was picked up by ranchers in other states and the seasons expanded. In Arizona, for instance, the season runs more typically from September to April because it gets too hot in the summer months to enjoy outdoor activities. In other states where dude ranching is a more recent development, the season may be longer as the climates are less severe. Long Hollow Ranch in central Oregon fits into that category.
Long Hollow Ranch, also, fits the more traditional dude ranch model. Our facilities are small and more intimate and personal than large, elegant and resort-like. We are a working ranch. The food served in our dining room includes traditional cowboy and western fare. Meals are served family style to encourage conversation and interaction. The focus is still to develop lasting relationships. At Long Hollow Ranch we host dudes from all around the USA and from around the world. Additionally, we always encourage our guests to make friends here as they enjoy the great outdoors in the American West.
Guests at Long Hollow enjoy plenty of trail riding, cattle drives, rounding up of wayward dogies, and basic horsemanship from mid- March to late October and sometimes even early November. Our wranglers are always ready to help an inexperienced guest to feel comfortable on horseback and to teach them how to handle the horse successfully.
So there you have it, dudes. You know who you are, where you came from, and why you’re here. We hope you have a great time!