The Texas Ranch That Is Bigger Than The Entire State Of Rhode Island

Cattle ranches have a beauty all their own. These sprawling, grassy estates can span for hundreds of acres; one 2018 estimate put the average farm or ranch size at 442 acres (via The American Cowboy Chronicles). In comparison, the average home plot in the United States is around one-fifth of an acre, according to Lawn Starter.

But some ranches are even bigger than that. Take King Ranch in South Texas, for example. This massive ranch, which houses 35,000 cattle, is made up of a staggering 825,000 acres of land, or nearly 1,300 square miles (via King Ranch). That makes it more than 50 times larger than Manhattan; more than four times larger than all of New York City; and bigger than one U.S. state. Yes, you read that right: King Ranch is nearly 50 acres larger than the state of Rhode Island, which is composed of only 776,900 acres of land, according to The Travel Vibes. Rhode Island is the smallest of the 50 states, it's true, but that's still an impressive comparison.

History of King Ranch

King Ranch was created by Captain Richard King in 1853 (via King Ranch). King was a steamboat captain from New York City who came to Texas to fight in the Mexican American War, according to Britannica. He started by buying a portion of the Rincon de Santa Gertrudis land grant, and then, over time, slowly built up his holdings until he had hundreds of thousands of acres of land.

During that same period, King was also building up the number of cattle on his ranch. According to King Ranch's website, there was a period during a drought in which King bought up cattle from many local individuals, who needed the money to survive the harsh season. Because the local people did not have a way to make a living without their cattle, King then hired them to work for him. This group soon earned the name "King's people."

Over the years, King's ranch bred many different horses as well as cattle, according to their website. They helped tame wild horses in their area and later foaled many award-winning stallions. They created more than one new breed of cattle, too. In the early 1920s, their clever breeding created the first Santa Gertrudis cattle, a type of cow which can survive in hot and humid temperatures.

King Ranch in modern times

Nowadays, King Ranch is still large and growing strong, though some of their goals have changed since the 1800s. On the breeding front, they're still searching for new frontiers; most recently, they crossbred the Santa Cruz cow, in order to create beef with better marbling (via King Ranch). Other notable innovations at the ranch include helping come up with the idea of using dipping vats to get rid of ticks from cattle; the drilling of the first successful artesian well in their area of Texas; and the invention of the root plow.

In 1961, King Ranch became a National Historical Landmark, according to Texas Time Travel. Now, they do more than just ranching. In addition to livestock, there's hunting on King Ranch grounds, and King Ranch is involved in environmental conservation efforts like habitat restoration, nature stewardship, and wildlife research.

You can visit the ranch through its tourist programs, including the ranch and environmental tours. Or check out their museum, which chronicles the history of King Ranch (via King Ranch). Thousands of people visit every year, according to Britannica. Today, the ranch is owned by around 60 descendants of Captain King (via Reference for Business).