Tales of Scottsdale’s Crescent Moon Ranch

May 14, 2017

Road signs for Alma School Parkway and E. Crescent Moon Drive at entrance to Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North.

By Les Conklin

There is a small company in Brooklyn, New York that has created a new smart road sign, named Point. The arms on Point’s signpost rotate based on what you’re looking for such as “Food,” “Events,” or “Transit.”  Not only do the arms rotate to point the way, small LED lights illuminate to provide related destination names and distances.

Wouldn’t it be enriching for visitors, if a community had smart signs like Point that also provided online access to historical information about the area.  A sign like that on Alma School Parkway in Scottsdale could tell us what Corn Flakes, Pinnacle Peak, a house that melted, a famous cowboy eatery, a world-class resort, and a religious center in Sedona have in common.  The sign could tell us about Crescent Moon Ranch.


Crescent Moon Ranch

Crescent Moon Ranch, 1948.

Crescent Moon Ranch, which included 127 acres of land, was located about one mile from Pinnacle Peak. It was built in the 1940s for cereal heiress Lois Kellogg Maury. The house, designed and built by an enterprising homebuilder named George Ellis. had approximately 4,500 square feet of living space, including guest cottages. Lois used the redwood main house, the two guest houses, and a bunkhouse as a finishing school for wealthy Eastern debutantes. The ranch’s guest cottages were also rented out to seasonal visitors.

Lois was from Buffalo, New York and prior to becoming Mrs. Maury, was Mrs. Roth. While living at Crescent Moon Ranch, Lois married a third time, to local wrangler, Nicholas Duncan. Pinnacle Peak old-timers said that Lois was an “interesting” lady.

Her new husband was from Sedona. In 1953, Lois purchased the Sedona ranch on which her husband was raised. She retained ownership in the property near Pinnacle Peak, but she and Nicholas moved to Sedona.


Kellogg Inheritance

This 1958 Pinnacle Peak Patio advertisement shows the location of Crecent Moon Ranch near Pinnacle Peak on the north side of what today is Alma School Parkway. The original Pinnacle Peak Patio is on the south side of Alma School.

Lois was one of the heirs to the fortune created by the Kellogg Company of Battle Creek, Michigan.  The roots of the company go back to an 1898 failed attempt W.K. Kellogg and his brother, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, to make granola. They accidentally flaked wheat berry. W.K. Kellogg finally flaked corn and created the recipe for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Eight years later, W.J. Kellogg opened the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Company, starting with 44 employees.

The company experienced steady growth. In 1914, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was introduced to Canada and eventually the company opened factories around the globe.

The Kellogg Company takes pride in its past. It was the first company in the food industry to hire a dietitian to identify how its products fit into a proper diet. It also became one of the first companies to display nutritional information on its boxes. During the Depression, W.J. Kellogg enabled more people to have jobs by splitting shifts and hiring new employees to fill both shifts. During World War II, the company produced K-rations for U.S. troops overseas.  Today, Kellogg’s breakfast products are available in 180 countries. The company has introduced many new products, including Bran Flakes, All Bran, and many others.


The second Pinnacle Peak Patio became a world-famous western steakhouse and attracted visitors from around the globe.

Pinnacle Peak Patio Connection

When Crescent Moon Ranch was built the area near Pinnacle Peak was occupied by homesteaders, coyotes, and cattle. A dirt trail, today’s Alma School Parkway, passed about a mile north of the ranch. The dirt track was used by fishermen and others to get to Bartlett Lake, Horseshoe Lake, and the Verde River. In 1957. Bill DePew and his wife, Dottie, who were from Phoenix, opened a small store on the south side of the dirt road.  Business picked up after the DePew’s decided to sell steaks to hungry travelers.

After 1958, the Depew’s obtained 10 acres from Lois Kellogg Duncan. The land was across the road from Pinnacle Peak. Their new restaurant was small, only seating 50 diners. As its reputation spread, the new Pinnacle Peak Patio was expanded becoming a sprawling complex of wooden buildings with outdoor cookout sites on the slopes of Pinnacle Peak.

The Pinnacle Peak Patio site adjacent to Pinnacle Peak is now home to a new housing development, The Summit of Pinnacle Peak Patio. The original Pinnacle Peak Patio location became the home of Reata Pass Steakhouse, which is now being replaced by a new housing development.


The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale Troon North

The cereal heiress held the remaining Crescent Moon Ranch property until it was purchased in 1967 by Gordon Ingebritson. Ingebritson was an insurance executive, developer, rancher and philanthropist.  Later, he sold the land to the developer of the Four Seasons Resort.

The 40-acre, 210 room resort opened in 1991. During its construction, all plants taller than three feet were removed, tagged, stored, and nurtured for more than two years. The plants were replaced as close as possible to their original locations. The resort’s dining room was named after the Crescent Moon Ranch. The resort’s entrance road from Alma School Parkway was named East Crescent Moon Drive.


Crescent Moon Ranch Encore

In 1963, artist Leon Bills rented a guest cottage at Crescent Moon Ranch while his home was being built. There was a hard rain and his home, which was made with faulty mortar, melted. His painting of downtown Scottsdale is shown here.

After moving to Sedona in 1953, Mrs. Lois Kellogg Duncan and her husband renamed his boyhood ranch, Crescent Moon Ranch. Lois was interested in East Indian philosophy and religion and in 1953 she founded the Sedona chapter of the Cultural Integration Fellowship, a nonsectarian religious and cultural corporation. Lois had first visited India in 1935 through her friendship with Margaret Woodrow Wilson, the president’s daughter.

Lois and her husband made several visits to India and in 1966, she founded the Sri Aurobindo center (integral yoga) at the ranch in Sedona. Mrs. Duncan was active in Sedona community affairs and a supporter of the Sedona Arts Center. For many years, she gave Christmas parties at Crescent Moon Ranch (Sedona) for underprivileged children.

Lois died in March 1970 while visiting Scottsdale with her husband.  She was 70 and survived by her husband; two sons, Edward Roth of New York City and Howard Roth of Phoenix; one daughter, Mrs. Lindsey Adams of Greenwich, Conn.; eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The family suggested that memorial gifts be given to the Sri Aurobindo Center, Crescent Moon Ranch, Sedona.

Point the Way!

It will probably be awhile before there are smart road signs to tell the story of Scottsdale’s Crescent Moon Ranch.  In the meantime, we will have to rely on ourselves to recall the tale. Fortunately, there is a traditional green road sign near the entrance to the Four Seasons Resort that reads “Crescent Moon.” Let that sign be our tale-telling que.


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Author: Les Conklin

Les Conklin is the editor of A Peek at the Peak publications and the author of Images of America: Pinnacle Peak. He is the president of the Greater Pinnacle Peak Association and the Monte de Paz HOA. He founded Friends of the Scenic Drive and has served on the Scottsdale Pride Commission, McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission, and on the boards of several local nonprofits. Les is a resident of north Scottsdale and a member of Scottsdale's History Maker Hall of Fame. Les is a volunteer school tour guide at the Musical Instrument Museum.

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