25th Anniversary


February 11 – 17, 2012

by Redhorse

     The 25th Anniversary Big Bend~Stillwell Ranch Trailride was on the Bucket List of many and Reservations waiting lists were handled expertly.  Over two-hundred (200) folks were part of the 25th Anniversary. Participants received “Glad Rag” bandanas, Commemorative pens and stick-on calendars, along with their name badges and schedules.  Saturday evening, following the camp pot-luck supper, Memory Books containing 25 years history of the ride, via articles, photos and memorabilia, were handed out at the Hallie Stillwell Museum. The seating in the museum resembled church goers during prayer; there was silence and all heads were bowed into their books.  Many announced that their books would grace their coffee tables.

     Wonderful slow rains moved in on Sunday giving riders an unexpected day off and the area much needed moisture.  The scheduled ride into Maravillas Canyon was simply moved to Tuesday. The    scheduled Chicken Fried supper went off on schedule at Wally's that evening.

     Special guests this year were Mr. & Mrs. M. C. Hendry; founder of this Trailride in 1987.  M. C. & Jinger camped and visited with the trailriders a few days. They were presented with a personalized copy of the Memory Book. Having them be part of the celebration was great.

     The Stillwell Staff led by Kay Pizzini and Nanette Patton provided the best facilities for this Trailride in years.  The changes in the accommodations, grounds and roads were exceptional.  Many volunteers were part of the “makeover”; including David Pizzini, Dean Halvorsen & Johnny Miller.  Keith Ritter was the force behind it all. He put in long days, for weeks, as Head Engineer, Logistics Advisor and Equipment Operator. The road work everywhere, especially in Maravillas Canyon was outstanding!  Mother Nature had changed the road through Maravillas so many times, that it took guts and determination (and long showers) to get it back to “normal”.  Keith, words can’t express how much your efforts meant to the success of this trailride.

     Cowboy Chef Wally Roberts proved how talented he is! Not only did he serve hundreds of fabulous meals during the week, but he fed 150 folks at the BBQ & Dance; conducted his Dutch Oven Cooking Clinic; rode with the ride AND provided some amazing mechanical repair engineering for Mark Morton’s trailer!  REMARKABLE. Thanks to all Wally’s crew: Robbie, Diane & Dan Hayes, Rhonda Gamble, Stephanie Jones and others.

     Suppers at Wally's are always delicious starting with hors d'oeuvres, full meals and desserts topped off by a story from his cookbooks.  The cooking students at his Clinic were not only introduced to his techniques but officially became "Wallyfied." An obvious state of mind required of a good cook!

     As usual, Photographer Claudene Cooper staged some outstanding photo opportunities. The hundreds of photos in the Galleries listed below provide special memories for everyone; and all are FREE.  Just right click on any picture and copy it to your computer.  Claudene was especially generous with the Pasture Prizes she provided this year.  A very special Thanks goes to her for all she does to keep the Trail Boss focused and riders supplied in wonderful photo memories.

     Redhorse presented the Stillwell Ranch & RV with a Texas flag flown over the State Capital on New Year’s Eve 2011 to honor the Ranch and participants for 25 years.  In addition, a Certificate from the Texas House of Representatives and a Proclamation from Rick Perry, Governor of Texas were presented to Kay & Nan. 

     There were some unique and fancy Pasture Prizes donated this year.  Thanks to all who donated them. During the drawing for Pasture Prizes, the Trail Boss was honored with a spectacular belt buckle commemorating the 25th year.  Nanette Patton & Kay Pizzini presented a custom made quilt of strips of “cowboy” design fabric; hand & machine sewn by both ladies. Mary Lou designed the fabric bag for the quilt. Thank you for the awards.

     Of course, the traditional BBQ & Pasture Prizes drawing isn’t complete without the great dance music of Craig Carter & Spur of the Moment band!  A 10’x3’ customized banner and Texas Trophy were presented to Craig and his band to show how much the trailriders have enjoyed them through the years.

      Ann & Eldon Whitford offered musical entertainment at the Museum most evenings.  A favorite song they wrote and perform is "Nan's Burritos".  Click on this photo, and have a listen! (It takes several minutes to load but worth it!)

    Thanks go to Wagoneers Juanita Brooks & Jeanne Kennon for providing rides and western flair; Nancy Carter DVM for just being there; Tyler Brewster for being the “gate” man; Pete Deanda for his perseverance to ride Maravillas Canyon; Wendell Frever for herding Susan & Glenn Busch to join us; Sheila Atkins and Misty Valdez for helping with checking Coggins papers; to Carl Atkins for helping with rescues; Linda Deas & Suzie Quinn for their boutique shopping tents; Tom Darling for getting Juanita’s wagon rolling; Harold McCutchen for bringing his cowboy friends to join us; Al Gilliland for the cold beer and ramroding the 4L buckles; Gator for auctioning off the 4L buckles for $250 each; Gwen Kinney for riding “Smoke”, one of Debbie Cole’s favorite trail animals; Bob Payne for causing several women to blush; Gottfried, Ingo & Sebashian Schiller for entertaining with their German Opera selections; Betty Straten for skipping medical coding classes to join us; String for promising to have the words to “Teneha, Timpkins, Bobo & Blair” by next year and R. L. Wright for staying the whole ride this year!!

     We missed having some of our trailrider and wagoneer friends join us for this Anniversary gathering.  They will be getting their Memory Books via mail; if they haven’t already.  Thanks to all who were part of the 25th Anniversary and made it such a success.


Special Thanks to our Official Photographer Claudene Cooper and to Dotty Blome, Paul & Nicole Fillion, Sheila Atkins, Marsha Wright & others for contributing photos for the Galleries!


                      GALLERY  I - Steak Supper & Museum Entertainment

                      GALLERY  II - Black Tower Group Photo & Memory Books

                      GALLERY  III - Black Gap WMA & Giant Yucca

                      GALLERY  IV - CELEBRATION - BBQ, Awards, Prizes & Dance

                      GALLERY  V - Maravillas Canyon

                      GALLERY  VI - Dutch Oven Clinic & Characters


Bernard Calhoun passed away suddenly on March 28, 2012. He & Judi have been regulars at the Annual Big Bend~Stillwell Ranch Trailride for many years.  He'll still ride with us; he just won't be in camp.




After reviewing the Galleries, please click on the Texas plate and leave comments

about our 25th Anniversary Big Bend~Stillwell Trailride & Wagon Train?

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