If Money Were No Object….
Whether your ranch is 100 acres on the outskirts of Austin or 100,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle, chances are good you value the land and all the lifestyle blessings that it provides.
When it comes to the love of ranching, size truly doesn’t matter. Many of the ranch owners I know tell me the most important characteristic of their estate is not its number of acres; it is the heritage and the legacy they can pass forward to future generations.
The H.W. Lewis Ranch, which has been in the Lewis family since the late 1920s, is about 5,000 acres – pretty much average in size by Texas standards. But the central role that the ranch has played in our extended family for nearly 90 years is HUGE. Our ranch isn’t the largest, it isn’t the most scenic, it doesn’t have the best hunting or wildlife, and its market value isn’t at the top of the charts in Texas. But me, my wife, my kids, my parents, and all my aunts, uncles, and cousins couldn’t love it more.
What recently started me thinking about all of this is an article I read last month by Elizabeth Abrahamsen on the website, Wide Open Country, titled, “10 Biggest Ranches in Texas.”
“Ninety-five percent of land in Texas is privately owned, and it’s on some of the largest plots of privately owned land” in the country, Ms. Abrahamsen noted.
The smallest estate on Ms. Abrahamsen’s list – the Jones Family Ranch on the South Texas coast near Corpus Christi – weighed in at 255,000 acres. All of the listed ranches are fully functioning, profitable livestock and oil operations, that combined total more than four million acres of land, or roughly 7,000 square miles (nearly six times the size of the State of Rhode Island).
The Big Ten
Upon reading about the ten biggest ranches in Texas, I wondered: “If money were no object, which of the top ten, if any, would I want to own?”
There is a vast difference between operating a functioning ranch of 5,000 acres or even 25,000 acres, and say the King Ranch, #1 on the list, with 911,215 acres. Could any one man or woman, if he or she lived to be 100 years old, ever even eyeball all the land on the King Ranch, much less enjoy it with the same emotional connection that we in the Lewis family feel toward our 5,000-acre spread?
I’m told, although I have no firsthand knowledge, that Dolph “Chip” Briscoe III, whose father served as governor of Texas from 1973 to 1979 and was considered the largest individual landowner in the state, still frequently works cows on his 560,000-acre ranch. Chip, whose family was estimated in 2014 to have a net worth of $1.3 billion, is an exception-to-the rule mega-landowner.
If you owned the Briscoe Ranch or the King Ranch, would you still work cows daily, tend to broken fences, and clear nettlesome cedar trees yourself?
Of course, the largest ranches in Texas – including the Briscoe Ranch – actually require a small army of men and women to maintain them and keep them profitable.
In looking over the Wide Open Country “Big Ten” list, I doubt very much that the owners of the giant properties – primarily in the hands of corporate CEOs and directors – would have much in common with me and other “mud-on-your-boots ranchers” if we sat across from one another sharing barbeque at the Old 300 in Blanco.
Then again, if you or I won the lottery and could buy ourselves another 100,000 acres or so of prime Texas ranchland, would that change us? Would you want to buy a 100,000-acre or 500,000-acre property if money were no object?
Truthfully, I probably would.
Costs Nothing to Dream
Whether you’d buy the King Ranch, the Jones Family Ranch, or some other rural property of your dreams, know that it costs absolutely nothing to dream. And should you win the lottery, remember, I can recommend a great broker to help you seal the deal.
You can read the entire Wide Open Country article here: http://www.wideopencountry.com/10-biggest-texas-ranches/
To save you the suspense, I’ve listed their Top Ten Texas Ranches: