King ranch is located in Kingsville, in the south of Texas. The range is the largest in the Unites state at over 1,000,000 acres. The ranch was founded in 1853 by Captain Richard King and Gideon K. Lewis. The land consists of four large divisions with only two of the four bordering each other. In 1961 the ranch was designated a National Historic Landmark. A King Ranch museum is also operated by the King Ranch Company which is located at 405 North 6th Street, Kingsville.
Richard King saw the land for the first time in 1852. He was so impressed with the land that he made an agreement with Texas Ranger Caption Gideon K. "Legs'' Lewis to make the land into their ranch.
The ranch started at 15,500 acres of land. Over the next two years King and Lewis sold half interest in the land and then started to acquire more land over time, the total area of the land in now 1.2 million acres.
The first official brands on the ranch were cattle, these were recorded in 1859. The brand, `Running W', is still used to this day. The ranch started grazing, cattle, sheep, goat and horses then by the mid1870's the hallmark stock became, Brahman Bulls, Beef Shorthorns, Texas Longhorn and Herefords.
In the 19th century the ranch was visited by many weary wayfarers, these wayfarers found that the ranch was well run operation but it also had an oasis of gentility at the ranch along with good warm hospitality provided by Kings new wife, Henrietta. While King was away on business, Henrietta guided the daily activities on the ranch.
The King Ranch Corporation is involved in many other aspects of business. This includes having many holdings in other state and countries with agricultural, truck farming and citrus interests.
The ranch not only raises cattle. They also raise quarter horses, cutting horses and thoroughbreds. The winner of the 1950 Kentucky Derby, Middle ground was raised at the range.
The ranch has an unusual animal on the premises. This animal is the Nilgai which was imported from India. The Nilgai are born as twins ended up competing with the cows on the ranch; hunters were then invited in to hunt the animals. The hunting of the Nilgai no longer occurs, but the hunting has caused the Nilgai to become weary of humans and bolt like horses.
Collections within the King Ranch museum include a photo essay completed by Toni Frissell that tells the story of the ranch in the early 1940's, saddles from around the world, a King Ranch commemorative Colt Python .357 magnum revolver, replicas of Texas flags, vintage cars and a custom designed Buick Eight hunting car.
Besides the first artesian well that was drilled in the summer of 1899 is a permanent sculpture of Mrs. Henrietta King and her son in law Robert J. Kleberg Sr. There are also videos of the history of the ranch and the main house at the museum.
The ranch is no longer managed by any of the King family. Many of the Mexican families who still work on the ranch feel that the relationship that with the current ranch management is no longer what is was when the King family was running the ranch.