Flying Right – Flagstaff Business News

Honoring the American flag, history and community.

Fourth-generation Arizona Babbitt Billy Cordasco got a bit of a tear in his eye as he felt the significance of the moment – the majesty of the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks above the town on a brisk April morning, the deep meaning of a prominent flag staff back in service for a city bearing the same name and the glory of the American flag being raised atop the historic Babbitt Building where his family has conducted business since 1886.

“This is what community looks like – joining together in the historic downtown with dear family members, long-time friends, local business owners and the Flagstaff Fire Department to honor our country in the quiet and beatify of an early spring Flagstaff morning,” said Cordasco, from the basket of Flagstaff Fire Station 3’s ladder truck with Fire Captain Ray Gonzalez and firefighter Kate Williams. “I’ve never seen this view of the mountains before from above the Babbitt Building. The grandeur of the Peaks and all that this morning represents, well, it just strikes me how wonderful it is to be a part of this community, living in this very special place. I said to myself, ‘This is home.’”

For Cordasco, president and general manager of Babbitt Ranches, it was especially meaningful to have his cousin, historian and businessman Jim Babbitt, in attendance. “The downtown would not be what it is today if it hadn’t been for Jim,” he said, as he noted Babbitt’s efforts to restore historic buildings and encourage a movement to revitalize the downtown in the 1990s.

The morning was momentous for Captain Gonzalez and Flagstaff Fire Station 4 crewmembers, as well, including engineer Caleb “CJ” Myers whose dad, Dave Myers, has worked for Babbitt Ranches for more than 35 years. “We’re straightening up American flags in downtown Flagstaff for the community and the American people,” said Gonzalez, as they fixed difficult-to-reach rooftop flagpoles in the early morning on Saturday, April 3.

Ensuring the structural integrity of the Babbitt Building flagpole were Dean Gallaher and Mark Perkins.

Gonzalez said Flagstaff Fire and the Babbitt family have worked together on community projects for years. Every holiday season, for example, Babbitt Ranches offers Christmas tree permits to the families of Flagstaff firefighters. For decades, Gonzalez has been a big part of the Christmas tree cutting brigades on the ranchland, bringing the symbolic evergreens back to Flagstaff and making them available to families in need as part of the Flagstaff Fire Department’s Christmas Adopt-a-Family program.

“The fire department is grateful for our long relationship with Babbitt Ranches,” said Gonzalez. “Together, we’ve been able to brighten the holidays for hundreds of families and bring warmth and joy, food and toys into their homes, no matter what their circumstances.”

April marked Babbitt Ranches’ 135th anniversary of operations in Northern Arizona. Two of the original five Arizona Babbitt brothers, David and Billy, stepped off the train at the Flagstaff depot on the clear, chilly morning of April 7, 1886, and noticed the beauty of the San Francisco Peaks crowned with snow. “It’s an extraordinary sight,” said Cordasco. “I imagine that David and Billy had that same feeling of, ‘This is home.’”

The young men were traveling from their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, and exploring locations out West to realize their dream of becoming cowboys. They were prepared to pay $20,000 for a cattle herd and healthy grassland with access to water in the Flagstaff area of the Arizona Territory. For the price of $17,640, the brothers agreed to buy 864 head of cattle, which came with 19 cowponies, leaving enough money left over to cover their travel expenses.

Within the first three weeks, the Babbitts branded the cattle with the CO Bar brand, a nod to their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, where they operated the family grocery store. It was there that the brothers were inspired by travelers’ stories of the Western Frontier and bravely heeded the call to “Go West.”

Today, the pioneering land company has more than 7,500 head of Hereford cattle and an award-winning horse program. The ranch covers 750,000 acres of private, state and federal land across Northern Arizona. Babbitt cowboys call on the same time-honored skills that were important 135 years ago to ride, rope, brand and engage in long-held traditions like the Spring and Fall Works and the Babbitt Ranches Annual Hashknife Colt Sale.

“The Babbitt family, Ranch Council and broader Babbitt Ranches Community are passionate about character, nature and community,” said Cordasco. “The values and principles that have shaped the family business since 1886 continue to guide us as we plan our future endeavors.”

The Babbitt Ranches vision for the future includes organizational sustainability and succession with a focus on agriculture, renewable energy, landscape-scale conservation, dark skies protection, scientific discovery, golden eagle conservation and an Outdoor Recreation Ethic Attitude, a company initiative.

“The decisions we make today are on behalf of our children, our grandchildren and their children,” said Cordasco. “And that is our motivation as we forge ahead with meaningful new business, environmental and community opportunities.” FBN

By Bonnie Stevens, FBN



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