The Wild Horse Desert
KINGSVILL, HOME OF the world famous King Ranch®, is a vibrant city that offers a myriad of recreation choices. The ranch offers guided wildlife, birding and special-interest tours. For a taste of ranching in the Wild Horse Desert, the King Ranch Museum in historic downtown Kingsville offers videos and
exhibits of ranch life and history. (kingranch.com)
There is an eclectic collection of fine shops downtown. Cowboy boots, Western apparel, Southwestern jewelry, fashionable clothing, furniture, art, and
unique gifts are available. The flagship store of the worldwide catalog business, the King Ranch® Saddle Shop is a must visit Also on Kleberg Avenue, the 1904 Train Depot Museum displays artifacts of South Texas railroading-an important facet of the history and heritage of the area.
There are a variety of restaurants in Kingsville. Diners will find mesquite barbecue, steak, seafood, Jalisco Mexican food, Middle Eastern, Italian and much more.
Form its beginnings as a teachers’ college, Texas A&M University-Kingsville has grown into a major academic and athletic center, with programs including
engineering, wildlife research, and ranch management (tamuk.edu) The John E. Conner Museum on campus celebrates the natural history of the region and, along with TAMUK’s Ben Bailey Gallery, regularly host art exhibits.(KingsvilleTexas.com) For visitors interested in birdwatching, there are hotspots for South Texas specialties from within the city to Baffin Bay, a prime fishing destination.
The Cowboy Coast is also rich in photographic opportunities. Visitors will hear, then see, orange-and white jets flown by pilots being trained here. Kingsville loves jet noise and is also the proud home of Naval Air Station-Kingsville. (cnic.navy.mil)
The King Ranch
FOUNDED IN 1853 as the Santa Gertrudis Ranch by Captain Richard King (1824-1885), a legendary figure in the history of the ranching and livestock industry in the United States, King Ranch is recognized as one of the birthplaces of the American ranching industry. It continues to operate today as one of the oldest and largest cattle ranches in the U.S. Richard and his wife, Henrietta Chamberlain King, continually acquired land, and by the time of Henrietta’s death in 1925, the Ranch consisted of well over 1.25 million acres.
King Ranch, Inc. was organized as a private corporation under the laws of Texas in 1934 and is still owned by the descendants of its founder.
Among its numerous accolades, the Ranch has made its name in animal husbandry by producing the Santa Gertrudis breed, the first American breed of beef cattle recognized by the USDA in 1940 and first new breed to be recognized in the world in more than a century. In 1994, the Ranch introduced the King Ranch Santa Cruz, a composite breed that was developed to meet the modern consumers’ beef expectations.
King Ranch also has a legacy with both Thoroughbred and Quarter horses. By acquiring and breeding superior foundation stallions, the King Ranch Quarter Horse program produced Wimpy, which was awarded the number one registration in the American Quarter Horse Association Stud Book and Registry, as well as Mr. San Peppy and Peppy San Badger, two of the alltime leading money making sires in the National Cutting Horse Association.
In addition to its Quarter Horse lineage, the Ranch went on to produce numerous prized Thoroughbreds, including Assault, the 1946 Triple Crown winner
(the only Texas horse to win the Triple Crown), and Middleground, the 1950 winner of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. Recognizing its place in history, in 1961, the United States Department of the Interior designated the King Ranch land in South Texas, located near Kingsville, as a National
Today, these properties sprawl across 825,000 acres with terrain that varies from fertile black farmland to lowlying coastal marshes with oak mottes to mesquite pastures that mark the beginning of the Texas brush country. Covering nearly 1,300 square miles on four separate divisions of land known as
Santa Gertrudis, Laureles, Norias, and Encino, it is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. These four Divisions are located in six counties: Brooks, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, and Willacy.
King Ranch has diversified and grown into a major agribusiness corporation, with interests in cattle ranching and feedlot operations, farming (cotton,
milo, sugar cane, and turfgrass), citrus groves, commodity marketing and processing, and recreational hunting in Texas and Florida.
Its retail operations include luggage, leather goods, home furnishings, farm equipment, commercial printing and ecotourism.