Charles Belden, a well-known western photographer from the Pitchfork Ranch near Meeteetse, WY just outside Yellowstone Park, was born in San Francisco in 1887. His family had migrated from the east when California was still a territory of Spain. Interestingly Charles’ grandfather was a member of the Donner Party. Charles grew up in California, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston and later married Frances Phelps whose father owned the Pitchfork Ranch. Frances was his best friend Eugene’s sister. They had three children and their daughter Annice Belden Somers still remains on the Pitchfork Ranch as bookkeeper.
Charles’ greatest contribution to the ranch was making it famous through his photography. He took many photos of the ranch from 1914 through the 1940’s. Many of those photos appeared in newspapers in Los Angeles, Denver, Billings, Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, New York, and magazines like National Geographic. Over 4,200 negatives of Belden’s photos still exist. Some of them are held at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, WY, while others are kept at the ranch.
After L.G. Phelps (Frances Phelp’s father) passed away in 1922, Charles co-managed the Pitchfork Ranch
with his brother-in-law and best friend Eugene Phelps. At one point, Charles caught antelope and raised
them for zoo’s worldwide. They were shipped as far as Germany on the Hindenburg. He also had a pet coyote that appeared in several of his photos. Later in life Belden left the ranch life behind and returned to California where he later died.
We have the above photo and others by Charles Belden in our lobby. The Mint Bar in Sheridan, WY also
features several of his photos.
Call and ask about our lodging options. We know you will enjoy your stay at the Mill Inn
on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mill Inn ~ 2161 Coffeen Avenue ~ Sheridan, Wyoming 82801 ~ 307-672-6401