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Thunderbird Ranch Collection

Identifier: MSS-1113-SC

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of digital copies of two guest registers for the Thunderbird Ranch. The registers span the years 1925-1971. Many visitors to the Ranch—diners and campers—did not sign the registers, so some prominent people known to have visited are not represented in the registers.

The collection also includes an historical summary and a list of names in the guest registers, both compiled by Amy Spangler, granddaughter of Cozy and Inja McSparron.


  • Majority of material found within 1919 - 1971

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research. Duplication/reproduction of the List of Names in the Guest Registers is prohibited.

Biographical / Historical

Thunderbird Ranch was a trading post and lodge operated in Chinle, Arizona by Leon Hugh “Cozy” McSparron and his wife Inja Collins Constant McSparron from 1919 to 1956. Cozy McSparron was born in Gallup, New Mexico in 1894. After high school, Cozy began working at the Chinle Trading Post for owner Mike Kirk. During World War I, Cozy enlisted in the US Army, serving in the 97th Infantry Division. Following the war, Cozy returned to Chinle and, in 1919, Cozy and partners purchased the Chinle Trading Post from then owner G.E. Kennedy. In the 1920s, Cozy bought out his partners and renamed the trading post Thunderbird Ranch. Cozy built a stone house next to the trading post and in 1933 Cozy and Inja McSparron married. The McSparrons expanded the trading post in the mid-1930s by adding four guest rooms and a bathhouse for visitors to Canyon de Chelly. It became the only trading post in the area providing room and board. People in the community around Chinle came to the trading post for essentials; the ranch also provided an exclusive escape for guests to Canyon de Chelly. Cozy McSparron was very involved with the Diné community in Chinle and both Cozy and Inja were active in preserving and promoting Diné culture. Cozy and Inja McSparron sold Thunderbird Ranch and retired to Rim Rock, Arizona in 1956. Cozy McSparron died there in 1959 and in 1977 Inja McSparron died in Prescott, Arizona.


1 Folder

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Cozy McSparron Collection, Cline Library, Northern Arizona University.
Finding Aid of the Thunderbird Ranch Collection
In Progress
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131