Torino Ranch sits on land that has a diverse and fascinating history dating back to the original inhabitants, who were Paiute Indians.
In 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression, Charlie and Rachael Roberts moved to the 160-acre homestead on the slopes of Mt. Charleston, NV from Los Angeles. They called it Roberts Ranch, and there they lived and worked a cattle and dude ranch for more than 14 years. Lore has it that their Ranch was near an illegal whiskey still on Lovell Canyon road that has been called “Potato Row” in the time of Prohibition.
After the Roberts’ passed on, legend states that the ranch became a boys’ detention center, where young men were sent and put to work for behavioral rehabilitation. But perhaps its most famous owner, prior to Brett Torino, was Bill “Wildcat” Morris, a prominent lawyer and former owner of the Landmark Hotel-Casino.
Under Morris’s ownership, the Lovell Canyon property operated as an RV park with approximately 1,800 campers who paid a membership fee to enjoy the small watering hole he built on the property, as well as the jamborees and other outdoor activities and events held there. Unfortunately Morris let the property fall into bankruptcy, and when the RV Park was shut down, some members were so angry at losing their money that they burned and destroyed everything they could.
They shot the water tower full of bullet holes, stripped the copper wiring, and stole the plumbing and anything else of value from the few buildings on the property. When the watering hole dried up, the Ranch effectively became a garbage dump.
When Brett purchased the 162 acre Ranch in 1994, it was in a tremendous state of disrepair. But as the son of a real estate developer having spent his high school years working on construction sites driving 18-wheelers and front loaders, he was uniquely suited to the challenge.
“It was an enormous undertaking.” says Brett. “I had to swallow the entire project at once in order to deal with it holistically.”
Brett, who is an environmentalist at heart, saw the threat of a future owner creating a large scale housing development on the property and sold 122 acres to the US Forest Service to be protected in perpetuity. The remaining 42 acres was retained and became the natural paradise it is today.
“Someone once said to me, ‘You didn’t landscape the property, you painted it.’ That was a beautiful thing to hear because I put so much of my heart and soul into every brushstroke, every detail. The ranch looks natural, like it occurred organically, but everything was part of my vision of a healing oasis for our campers,” says Brett.
Today, Brett offers the Torino Ranch as a natural sanctuary and healing retreat to the children who camp there each summer.