Established in Salt Lake City in 1958 by LeVern G. Miner
Moved factory to Nephi, Utah in 1962
LeVern G. Miner of Shelley, Idaho, died June 26, 1996 at the age of 76, at Idaho Regional Med center, Idaho Falls, Idaho.
He was born March 9, 1920 in Rupert, Idaho to Albert Leon Miner and Lottie Noble Miner, both of Springville, Utah. He graduated from Cyprus High School, Magna, Utah in 1938.He married Melva P. Gerber in Tooele, Utah in 1939. They lived in California, as well as Hunter, Granger and Nephi, Utah, where he established Rancho Trailer Manufacturing. He was retired and lived the past 20 years in Shelley, Idaho, where he was an active member of the Taylor Ward, in Shelley, having been a life-long member of the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He is survived by his wife, Melva Miner of Shelley, Idaho; two daughters, Gayle Madsen of Shelley, Idaho.; and Patricia Lee Landon of Taylorsville; two sons, David Levern Miner of Spanish Fork; and Kim Wade Miner of Shelley, Idaho; as well as two brothers, L. Ross Miner of Idaho Falls, Idaho; and Verl R. Miner of Sunnyvale, Calif.; and one sister, Gwenevere (Miner) Hickman of Sandy; plus eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his mother, father, two sisters and one grandchild.
I have been researching this company, and have managed to track down the contact information for a daughter (Gayle) of the man that established Rancho Trailers, Inc. I gave her a call. She worked in the factory for several years, bought her father out when he retired, and was more than happy to share. Here is what I got from our phone interview.
The very 1st unit (a basic camper shell) rolled off the line and went to Ogden, Utah on Nov. 13th, 1958. From there, Rancho built shells, cabover campers, and travel trailers.
Rancho moved to Nephi, Utah and opened on Halloween Day, 1962
In Nephi is where they started to call the units “El Rae”.
They had some leftover SLC side emblems that they used on Nephi units (unknown how many) until the new Nephi side emblems came in
Gayle told me that in the early years (1958-1967), every travel trailer had the point on the front and the “shark fin” type thing on the back… she says that if it doesn't have it, it's been removed by a previous owner.
She told me that the accent stripe on the side of a Rancho is unique to the year that it was built.
Also… in Nephi, she said that a new model (more affordable) was introduced called the “GayWay” (named after her). After only a few were made, they were discontinued when her father was told by quite a few dealers that “GayWay” was a horrible name because….hmmm.
She and a former husband had bought the company from her father when he retired in 1966, shortly after that is when manufacturing expanded to 5th wheels and custom conversions. She sold her share of the company to her ex husband during their divorce, and in turn, he sold it to one of his relatives in 1987. The company was moved to Los Angeles, but shut down in 1988, never producing a single L.A. unit. During all of this, her ex-husband had established Western Liesure Trailers of Payson, Utah but it only lasted for a short time.
She told me that Bonanza Trailers of Draper, Utah copied Rancho's designs (actually paid Rancho to be allowed to build in Rancho's jigs.)
When Rancho began to build larger travel trailers, it was at a time (she can't remember the year) that the National Parks would not let anything longer than 22 feet in… so Rancho's serial numbers added a digit, fudging them a bit… When Rancho would build a 22'+ travel trailer, instead of the serial number being something like 22-_-YR, it would be 215-_-YR (21.5 feet)
She told me that sometime in 1963, her father had done some experimenting, and performed 2 special builds… making modifications to a cabover camper and a travel trailer. She doesn't know the differences between these two units and the rest, all she knew was that her father had made some kind of mark on the bottom side of the stoves to identify them. One morning upon arriving at the factory, he discovered that both units were missing. The factory was not fenced in at that time, and finished units were outside, so… someone pulled up, hooked up, and went. She said that he searched high and low for them for months, eventually spotting the cabover camper in a church parking lot in 1965. He had apparently made a change to the outside of the camper, and recognized it right away. He had a master key, went inside, ripped the stove up, and there was his mark. He called the police, and it was discovered that the Pastor of the church had stolen it. He never did find the travel trailer, but had always suspected that an employee had taken it.
Information gathered by Vicky L. Gray of Phoenix, Arizona