P-Club Buildings. A guest cottage, the two-story Pond home, and Ashley Pond’s office are seen in
this photograph of the Pajarito Club, c. 1915. (Courtesy of Los Alamos Historical Society Archives)
By Sharon Snyder
Los Alamos Historical Society
When Ashley Pond Jr.’s attempt to start a ranch school near Watrous, NM, washed
away in a flood in 1904, the disappointment was overwhelming. He returned home
to Detroit and worked for a time in the fledgling automobile industry, but it wasn’t
long before he was drawn back to New Mexico and tried a different venture.
In 1914, Pond learned that the Ramon Vigil Land Grant was for sale, a property
that encompassed 32,000 acres on the east side of the Jemez Mountains. He talked
four Detroit friends—two bankers and two automobile executives—into buying the
land with him for $80,000. The dream had changed. He planned to create an elite
hunting and fishing club in Pajarito Canyon.
The site Pond chose for the Pajarito Club had some existing structures, remnants of
the Ramon Land and Lumber Company. There were stables, a barn, and a two-
story commissary that would become the Pond home with the help of a Santa Fe
architect. A kitchen was added at the back of the house, and guest cottages were
built. Other improvements included an orchard, a vegetable garden, and a tennis
C.B. Ruggles, the wrangler hired for the club, guided visitors who wanted to hunt
and fish. Other visitors came just to appreciate the solitude of the canyon or to
enjoy the scenic surroundings that included visits to nearby Ancestral Pueblo sites.
They were shown around the area on horseback or in Pond’s 1909 Hudson Touring
The Pajarito Club attracted noted visitors, both locally and nationally, including
author and poet John Curtis Underwood of New York; Southwest archaeologists
Jesse Nusbaum, Sylvanus Morley, and A.V. Kidder; Rose Dougan and Vera von
Blumenthal of local Duchess Castle fame; Metropolitan Opera tenor Ricardo
Martin; William Hamby of the Saturday Evening Post; and San Diego architect
Templeton Johnson and his family, to name a few.
Ashley Pond built a log cabin on the site to use as an office. It contained his
library, a desk, and a large fireplace at one end. “Just the place to talk things over
at the end of day,” he said, but the end was sooner than he expected. In 1916, the
Pajarito Club closed. It had been a costly venture, and with World War I
escalating, the Detroit partners were uneasy about pouring more money into a
The Pond Cabin, as it is known today, is all that remains of the Pajarito Club. Time
passed and a second world war brought the Manhattan Project to the Pajarito
Plateau, eventually to become the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. Dwight
Young a photographer and scientist, used the Pond Cabin between 1945 and1952,
and for many years the cabin and its surroundings were designated as Technical
Area 18. Today, the cabin still stands and has become a part of the public behind-
the-fence tours given by the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and Los
Alamos National Laboratory.
Ashley Pond and his partners had been enthusiastic about the Pajarito Canyon
section of the Ramon Vigil property. They thought there was a possibility the
Pajarito Plateau could become part of the proposed Cliff Cities National Park.
They even foresaw their property becoming internationally famous. As fate would
have it, the land did become internationally famous, and, in time, associated with a
After the disappointing failure of the Pajarito Club, Ashley Pond Jr. regrouped,
bought the Brook homestead on the plateau, and founded the Los Alamos Ranch
School, a tribute to the man and his perseverance.
Pajarito Club visitors await the start of a tour in Ashley Pond’s Hudson Touring Car. The back of the Pond home is seen on the right. (Courtesy of Los Alamos
Historical Society Archives)
These articles are written by the Los Alamos Historical Society Staff. Many of these articles were originally published by the