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Kingsville and the King Ranch


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Kingsville - Texas

Riverboat captain Richard King came to the Rio Grande to take charge of one of the riverboats that provisioned General Zachary Taylor's army during the Mexican War. This was in the late 1840s, and Captain King decided to stay in the area, purchasing a Spanish land grant called the Santa Gertrudis on the site where the town of Kingsville now sits. He stocked his ranch with Mexican cattle, and imported Mexican workers as cowboys.

The King Ranch played an important role during the Civil War, when the Cotton Road became a supply route for the Confederate side. Cotton was hauled south to Mexico in exchange for war materials. Refusing to bow to Union threats, King not only kept the road open but provided beef and horses to Confederate troops.

The town of Kingsville is now the access point for visiting the vast ranch. The first place to go is the King Ranch Museum and Visitor Center.

The King Ranch - America's Largest

After the Civil War, the ranch's "Running W" brand became famous as the large herds were run north to supply the growing cities. King kept adding to the ranchlands, and by his death the ranch had expanded to 600,000 acres. His widow, Henrietta, and son-in-law Robert Kleberg, added further to the property, which now covers 1.3 million acres (1,300 square miles) in four counties. Descendants of the Klebergs have managed the ranch over the years, developing a new cattle strain which they named Santa Gertrudis, as well as farming the largest cotton operation in the state. The ranch is home to a distinguished stable that breeds and trains championship quarter horses.

Drive Through the KIng Ranch

Parts of the ranch are open to the public. One would think that a cattle ranch would have a paucity of wildlife, but that is not the case. This ranch is huge, and there is plenty of room for cattle and wilder creatures. A 12-mile loop drive is open to the public. Tours are self-guided with a map available at the ranch gatehouse. The drive includes views of show pens, feeding pens, and pastures where cattle and quarter horses graze.

More can be learned about the history of the King family and the ranch from 1939 to 1944 at the King Ranch Museum, which also has a display of vehicles dating from the ranch's early years. The museum and visitor center, on State Highway 141 west of Kingsville, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Guided tours (with a fee) include a cultural tour of the ranch, and a bus tour. Special tours include a three-day wildlife expedition to see migrating birds in spring and fall. Some of these tours are offered through private firms, but you can pick up information on them all at the visitor center. For details, and to arrange a tour, call (512) 592-8055.

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Kingsville Camping

Oasis RV and Mobile Home Park
P.O. Box 1689, Kingsville TX
(519) 592-0764
We don't usually recommend that travelers pull into an established mobile home park, but this is the only private RV facility in Kingsville, the headquarters of the King Ranch. This is an older mobile home park with RV and trailer sites offered to overnight visitors. Facilities include open, mainly grassy sites, dump station, phone hookups, flush toilets, laundry, and recreation room. To get there, Drive to the junction of U.S. Highway 77 and State Route 141. Take U.S. 77 north for a half-mile, and then turn east onto FM 2945.

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