Prunty, matriarch of the Prunty Ranch, lives in the home she moved
into as a bride in 1952. The
home is one of the few buildings remaining at the old town-site of
Charleston, Nevada along the Bruneau River.
It sits below a hill bearing crosses marking the graves of
Marge’s husband of 48 years, Shorty Prunty and her oldest son Dick.
Her kitchen window looks out on the upper pastures where the
yearling colts and saddle horses range.
Prunty Ranch is located 85 miles northeast of the nearest town, Elko,
Nevada, and 25 miles from the nearest paved road.
Marge says the roads are snowed in, isolating the ranch, for
about three months every winter.
Mail delivery comes twice a week in the good weather, but
during the winter months mail is delivered at the state highway 25
miles away. Snowmobile is
often the only method of winter access to the ranch.
Marge loves her home and remains there even during those
The Prunty Ranch is well known for
its herd of colorful
Diamond A Desert horses, numbering about 150 head, that were
featured in the April and May, 2001 issues of Western Horseman
Magazine. They also
run about 300 head of mother cows on National Forest and Bureau of
Land Management permits and their own 1100 deeded acres.
Marge was born on a ranch near Elko
in 1926. She married
Shorty Prunty in 1948 and they worked on other ranches for a few years
until they settled on his home place in 1952.
When her older son Dick started school, Marge taught at the
one-room school in Charleston for two years.
She and her son and other students rode their horses to school.
Then she taught up to 22 students from first through eighth
grades in a country school on the North Fork of the Humboldt River
about 25 miles away. She talks happily of the seventeen years she
spent teaching, first in the one-room schools and then in Elko.
Today, many changes have taken place in rural Nevada.
The thing Marge says she notices most is that where neighboring
ranches once supported young families, they have now been bought by
corporations and for the most part have no people living on them. Granddaughter Becky, when mentioning the old town of
Charleston, says, “We are Charleston.
We are all that’s left.”
Marge’s son Gary and her two college-age granddaughters Becky
and Kyla take an active interest in the ranch and the Pruntys’
historic horse herd, although they do not live on the ranch at the
present time. Marge also
retains a full-time hired man. But she says being the boss of the ranch is a very hard job.
At 74 years old, Marge still loves to ride her favorite horse
Ribbon and she uses a four-wheeler to haul salt, check her livestock
and to check irrigation water.
Marge says her main concern for
the future is “the fear every old-timer, rancher, and stockman has
for the future, maintaining their access to public grazing lands.”
Her land is bordered on the east by a wilderness area and on
the north by lands controlled by the Elk Foundation.
She maintains that all the rules and restrictions imposed by
people that are new to the land are often difficult to deal with and
hopes they will not become prohibitive to her family’s way of life.
A version of this
article by Lee Raine appeared in November, 2001 Western Horseman