King Ranch

The King Ranch, probably the most famous ranch in America, spans 825,000 acres, an area roughly the size of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio combined. The  story of the ranch, founded in 1853 by Captain Richard King, can be told in superlatives. It is the nation’s largest cattle operation, Texas’s first ranch, and, at the time of his death in 1885, it had made King the richest man in the state. His grandson Robert J. Kleberg Jr. invented the first American cattle breed, and bred the first registered American quarter horse, along with a Thoroughbred stallion that won the Triple Crown of horse racing in 1946. Kleberg also invented the cattle prod, eradicated Texas tick fever, and by 1980, had more oil wells installed at the King Ranch than all of Saudi Arabia.

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Travel & Outdoors |
January 20, 2013

Little House on the Prairie

Editors’ note: As we approach our fiftieth anniversary, in February 2023, we will, every week, highlight an important story from our past and offer some perspective on it. Robert E. Lee advised his friend Richard King to build his permanent home at the highest point on the surrounding prairie, a little rise

Travel & Outdoors |
January 20, 2013

A Family Affair

Editors’ note: As we approach our fiftieth anniversary, in February 2023, we will, every week, highlight an important story from our past and offer some perspective on it. Richard King and his wife, Henrietta, founded the King Ranch. Their daughter Alice and her husband, Robert Kleberg—shown with their children in the

Business |
January 20, 2013

The Next Frontier

How has the state’s most storied ranch managed to survive and thrive in the twenty-first century? By operating in a way that its founder, Captain Richard King, would scarcely recognize.

Feature |
October 31, 2012

Git Along, Lonesome Ranchers

Cattle ranching in Texas has been endangered almost since its inception. Has the harsh economic reality finally caught up with our most iconic business?

Great Outdoors |
February 1, 2004

Arrested Development

The flat-as-a-mouse-pad landscape bordering the Laguna Madre contains one of the greatest wildlife-viewing regions in North America—and that's not all.

Politics & Policy |
December 1, 2002

The Secret History

Did Richard King cheat his partner's heirs out of a chunk of the King Ranch nearly 120 years ago? He may have—and if the Texas Supreme Court permits Chapman v. King Ranch, Inc., to go to trial, the past could come back to haunt the state's most storied spread.

Ranching |
July 31, 1998

When We Were Kings

For the first time in its history, the world-famous King Ranch is being run by someone other than a descendant of its founder. Can the mythic institution survive a changing of the guard?