Gunnar Thude and Family

The next week I will be posting the story of Gunnar Thude to this blog.  But in the meantime enjoy a couple of pictures of his family.

503367_6042811b6bf6cwl5240vld_D_96x128[1]A young Gunnar Thudeunknown man

Gunnar Thude in Arizona possibly at a sheep camp or one of his ranches.  As I obtain more information from the family I will update each of the pictures and add others.

Update: the picture above of Gunnar is at his Heber ranch that he bought from Williams Ryan, another sheep man.  Thanks for the information from one of his grandchildren, Gerald Hancock.

I have not collected all the information that I had hoped on the Thude family but will be talking to several of them in the next few weeks.  I was told by one of them that the April 1950 issue of the National Geographic followed Gunnar’s sheep up the Heber Reno Driveway.  I wish to share part of that story.  It is worth trying to get a copy of the issue and anyone who follows me and  would like a copy, can contact me and I will send the article to them.  I have all the National Geographic’s on CD from their beginnings until the 1990s.  I need to update my collection.

Francis R. Line wrote 50 years ago of the seasonal migration of man and beast (horse, burros, dogs, sheep and goats) along the Heber Reno driveway.  He stated, “…the annual trek means some 50 days of grueling struggle upward each spring and an equally exhausting journey downward when autumn’s snow drives the from the mountains.” The story details the herder, Rosalio Lucero, and Pablo Chaveez, the camp tender as they trek 1,547 sheep that belonged to the Paradise Sheep Co., which was owned at this time by Gunnar Thude.  As only the National Geographic or Arizona Highways can do, the magnificent photography helps the reader see the difficult terrain, the canyons, the enclosed walls that kept the temperatures hot and allowed very little breeze to give comfort to man or beast.  Each sheep outfit, men and beast, suffered from the long dry days as the sheep would have several days of no water.  Then there was the mad dash to a water hole when it did appear. The photographs also showed the beauty of the land from the mountains, the blooming cactus and flowers and trees.  The Heber Reno driveway was over 200 miles long and through the most difficult part of Arizona.  Its inaccessibility kept the sheep owners from visiting the outfits and bringing much needed supplies except maybe every ten days.  Sheep outfits that used this trail included, but were not limited to, L-4 Ranches, Paradise Sheep Co., Diamond Sheep Co., Kenneth Ellsworth, Frank Erramuzpe, Cliff and Earl Dobson.  Dwayne Dobson used the trail last in 2011.  He sold out that year to Joe Auza, Casa Grande. It is my understanding that this year, 2019, Joseph Auza, Joe’s son, used part of the trail this year and three years ago.  The two pictures are courtesy of Gerald Hancock. The first picture is Gunnar and his foreman, Eliseo Lucas.  The second picture is sheep on the Blue Point Bridge over the Salt River.

7 thoughts on “Gunnar Thude and Family

  1. My name is Robert Hall. I am 86 yrs old. One of my most memorable experience was spending a summer on my “Uncle “Gunners sheep ranch at age 13. I missed the sheep drive from White Mountains down to Williams as I nearly chopped off my foot chopping wood for the stove for dinner Gunner had a significant other who had a 15 year old son who stripped the gears of the pick up truck at the White Mountain ranch. We did not know it was used as the chuck wagon for the sheep drive. It delayed the drive and I was sent home to San Francisco as I was useless due to my bad foot. I am not sure of my relationship to Gunner but my grandmother was Julia Frandsen and my great uncle was Dr Peter Frandsen a professor at University of Nevada Reno. Mom and Nana made several trips to Denmark over the years. Hope this didn’t bore you but it was a fond memory of mine


  2. Thank you for sharing. I will let other family members know about this. Some of Gunnar’s children and grandchildren live in Arizona. They have given me lots of information about Gunnar.


  3. Hi, My name is Karsten Jodehl and I once participated in Gunnar and Gerda´s annual gaterings in Vilslev in Danmark in the early 70´s. Both Gunnar and Gerda visited my parents once in Nyborg, Danmark, in the mid 70´s. As a young boy I remember Gunnar as a real cowboy with his Stetson, cigar and cowboy boots. Something very special in the 70´s in Danmark.


    1. Thank you for that information. I would love to know more about this visit. Some of his American family just returned from the annual gathering. I had hoped to join them this year but things did not work out for me to go.


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