Back to the King Ranch trip. On the 2 hour coach trip on the way to the ranch we had a local historian - Helen Myers - give us the history of the ranch and area. When we reached the ranch, a Ranch historian (retired teacher) boarded our bus and told us lots of info on our hour bus tour of the Ranch itself. The picture on the left is their business center which was originally their general store for the families that lived on the ranch. The first home on the property was a 2 room mud hut that Richard King brought his young bride Henrietta home to. A second home was built but burnt down in 1912 and the 3rd home was built on the original site. Henrietta King instructed the architect to design a house that anybody would be comfortable walking into wearing boots. Driving by the front door of the Ranchhouse you see Peacocks and Peahens at the front door. These have always been on the property from early days because Henrietta was afraid of rattlesnakes and peacocks will attack and kill rattlesnakes. Henrietta was a teacher (at age 17) from Brownsville and taught their 5 children (3 girls and 2 boys)and the ranch family children to Grade 8. The King children were sent to boarding school in St Louis Missouri for high school. The 2 oldest girls married men from St Louis, one of the boys wanted to be a farmer rather than a rancher so his parents set him up on a farm, the other son died of pneumonia at age 19 and the youngest daughter (Alice) came home to the ranch. She married a lawyer - Klieberg in 1886 and they ran the ranch for years. Henrietta lived to 93 and lived on the ranch all those years. Richard King died at age 60 from stomach cancer in 1885. Alice and her husband had 5 children and their son "Mr Bob" ran the ranch from age 24 to the end of his life. This picture on the right is of the carriage house - it has been in Ford commercials - lots of F-150 Ford King Ranch trucks to be seen. Another thing they showed us were "bump gates" so the drivers don't have to get out of their trucks to open gates on the Ranch - they work on a swinging spindle in the middle. The cowboys still use horses when they round up cattle in the mesquite tree brush areas - where the cattle pasture in the summer heat.
There was a bulldozer at work clearing mesquite bush because these were originally grasslands but due to the imported Mexican cattle grazing mesquite trees resulted - the mesquite trees are not native to Texas and are very difficult to kill because 2/3rds of the tree are the roots. The wood is super hard but very beautiful and now being used on expensive floors and furniture.
Today King Ranch is far more than cattle and horse ranching and is still owned by the descendants of Richard King.
Oil was discovered on the property and Exxon Mobile has a natural gas plant on the property.
Cotton is grown and they have one of the largest cotton gins.
They have 2 large sod farms - a leader and innovator growing high quality turfgrass sod for commercial and residential applications - in Florida.
They are the largest citrus growers in Florida - they are Tropicana and Minute Maid
King Ranch owns 90,000 acres in Florida.
They grow sugar cane and process powdered sugar.
They own a John Deere dealership in Texas, a horse farm in Tennessee and another farm in Pennsylvania and ranches in other locations in the world - Argentina, Brazil, Australia.
King Ranch offers one of the best hunting areas of South Texas - includes limited Nilgai (African antelop) hunts.
King Ranch is also a leader in wildlife management quail, white-tailed deer, wild turkey with Nature tours available. We saw alligators swimming and they have to harvest these non natives due to overpopulation.
It was all very impressive and then we went for lunch at a buffett in Kingsville. I am going to start a new post for the rest of the day.