John Lee started Crescent Moon Ranch as a cattle operation in 1880, but by the 1930s, the Baldwin family had replaced cows with fruit trees. Today, the ranch – nestled near the base of majestic Cathedral Rock – is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, which preserved the ranch “cabin” and rents it to tourists.
The cabin, a rambling three-bedroom house built in 1938, requires regular upkeep, as do other historical buildings on Crescent Moon Ranch, including Lee’s hay barn, a waterwheel, blacksmith shop and packing shed.
In 2021, officials with the Coconino National Forest partnered with the nonprofit HistoriCorps, which recruits and trains volunteers to help maintain historic structures on public lands across the U.S. The organization provides food, a campsite and construction education throughout the preservation process.
Last year, the volunteers repointed the masonry on the blacksmith shop and the waterhouse. This year, over the span of three weeks in October, HistoriCorps crews helped Crescent Moon Ranch get ready for the coming decades by replacing the packing shed roof, restoring the siding on the hay barn and treating the waterwheel for rust.
“They are very good at involving everybody – all the volunteers – no matter what their experience is,” HistoriCorps volunteer Randy Hurley said. “They are very good at training and showing and demonstrating how to use tools. … They also are good about asking, ‘Are you comfortable up on the roof? Are you comfortable using that tool?’”