http-equiv='refresh'/> Tin TeePee/Log Cabin: The King Ranch

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The King Ranch

The King Ranch, all 825,000 acres, started right here along the Santa Gertrudis Creek when Richard King had a vision—he wanted to buy land there.  Richard King was born in 1824 to Irish immigrants in New York City.  He was indentured to a jeweler and ran away at the age of 11, stowing himself on a boat bound for Mobile, AL.  By the age of 19, he was a steamboat pilot, he built one fortune in the shipping industry and another ranching.  In 1853 he purchased the first land for his ranch—15,000 acres, a Spanish land grant he got for the princely sum of $300!!!!

IMG_5878There has been very little rain here for two years and all the creeks and ponds are dry or almost dry.

Richard and Henrietta King started a ranch that 150 years later is still operating—raising cows and horses at the operation near Kingsville, Texas.  The Santa Gertrudis breed of cows is the first American breed of beef cattle and they were bred on the King Ranch in 1940 by crossing Brahmans and beef short horn cattle. 

The couple had five children and the ranch is still privately owned by direct descendants of the Kings through their daughter Alice.  At this time there are no family members in management positions.  They do serve on the various board of directors.

IMG_5883The family home is not open to the public—it is 32,000 square feet and has not been occupied by any family member since 1974 but is available to any member of the family at any time.  There is a staff of sixteen which maintains the home and grounds.

There are 300 head of quarter horses and 60,000 head of cattle on the ranch today.

Richard King went to Mexico in 1953 to buy cattle—he offered the people of the drought stricken village homes and jobs if they would come back to Texas with him.  About 60 families came with him and some of their descendants still work on the ranch.  The King Ranch provides housing, utilities and various other benefits to about 100 employees at this time.  The housing is old with many of the structures having been built in the 1940’s.  The ranch is in the process of tearing down many of these older homes and building these for the workers:


IMG_5912Just one of the many examples of the running W brand seen all over the ranch—Ford manufactures a King Ranch vehicle line with top grain leather branded with this running W.   In Kingsville, The King Ranch Store sells furniture, leather goods and other items, many branded with this running W.  Michael somehow left the store off our tour route??? Smile

There are 425 water wells on the property, there was a commissary at one time:IMG_5913There was a church and a King Ranch school still exists for grades K-12 in Kingsville.

When this 83 year old man was 9 years old he was breaking horses for the King Ranch—without their knowledge—but breaking the horses to ride.  He legally went to work for the ranch when he turned 11 years old.  The King Ranch owned the only Texas horse, named Assault, to win the Triple Crown—in 1943.  The horse had a cut foot and there was talk of putting the animal down.  The little boy at the time asked if he could take care of the horse, was granted permission, nursed the horse back to health, trained it with the horse going on to become a very famous racehorse!  He gave an interesting little talk and even played us a tune on the harmonica!


This photo is for you Karen—this loom was set up in the same room where the man in the above photos gave his talk—he told us the loom had been used to weave saddle blankets.

IMG_5906IMG_5891Sandhill cranes along the tour.

It was a wonderful, totally interesting day!!  Emmi stayed home alone and boy did she ever howl when we finally got back home about 5pm!!!  Zoey and Angel were glad to see someone too! 


  1. We toured the ranch when we were down that way and the tour guide upset Brenda when he wouldn't let her keep her ticket for her souvenir book. I guess they recycle them so maybe you guys used our ticket.

  2. We've been down that way a few times but never been to the King Ranch yet.... guess it's still on our Bucket List, as it looks like a place we'd like to see. It sure is interesting to see how the great State of Texas came to be what it is today.

  3. We toured the King Ranch a few years ago......with our good friends and travel buddies Louis and Janette....louis is now in the Vets nursing home in Little Rock...... I miss them so much...
    That is a big ranch,,,I believe they did have lots of land in Florida,,,But if I remember right they had just sold all the Fla property just before our tour which must have been back in about 2002......We ventured on to Mission, TX from there..
    Nice Blog....

  4. Great story and pictures. Need to put that on my list of places to see. It is getting much longer.

  5. Another nice museum is in the little town of Sarita. It is the headquarters of the Kenedy Ranch which, I believe, is a spin off of the King Ranch. All these old ranches are connected in some way usually thru marriage etc. Anyway, the museum is in the HQ building of the Kenedy Pasture Company. While there, be sure to go thru the courthouse across the street to see the photos of the old ranch life.
    And in Kingsville, in the old King Ranch ice house is the King Ranch Museum. Very nice. Be sure to stop in at the KR saddle shop. Worth the time to see the quality merchandise.
    While on the Ranch did you see any Nilgai? The ranches in S TX make quite a bit of money from guided hunts. And they have professional game managers on all of them so there are many trophy animals there.
    I dealt with these ranches while with a pipeline company down there. By and large, good folks to deal with.
    Take care and enjoy South Texas.
    Don in Okla.
    PS. If you get to the Valley, there is a large museum in Edinburg worth seeing near the courthouse.

  6. Really interesting blog...and the King Ranch will be noted on our 'to visit' list.

    The three dogs do keep you tugging during your walks.

  7. I enjoyed reading your narrative. Hope you have more interesting adventures. PS. Thanks for the welcome back :-)

  8. butterbean carpenterJanuary 23, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Howdy Janna & Mike, & Emmi
    I am so glad y'all got to go to the King Ranch, while down here!!! It is really a showplace of real ranches!!! Of course if Mike & Lon had it they'd be 'fixin' it up'!!! Seeing Assault's trainer was something we didn't see, on our tour, but he was probably breaking horses back then.. One of the grand-daughters has a ranch up close to Abilene and has written some books on the Kings, Klebergs and the ranch!!! We went to a talk she gave; very interesting...
    Now that y'all have seen the 'homeplace', rent you a helicopter and TRY to see the rest of it; Rollie & Gina would like it too, also!!!
    Hope y'all are having a great time and stay well!!!

  9. We will definately have to make it there to see the King Ranch ~ very interesting story!
    Have fun

  10. Oh so cool to see that loom! It's a Rio Grande style loom where you stand up to weave at it. Wonderful huge piece of equipment to beat the saddle blankets tightly from "churro yarn" that is native to the type of sheep down there. Thanks for posting it!

    Karen and Steveio


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