Tejon Ranch Company (NYSE: TRC), based in Lebec, California is one of the largest private landowners in California. The company was incorporated in 1936 to organize the ownership of a large tract of land that was consolidated from four Mexican land grants acquired in the 1850s and 60s by ranch founder General Edward Fitzgerald Beale. The company now owns over 270,000 acres (1,093 km) in the southern San Joaquin Valley, Tehachapi Mountains, and Antelope Valley. It is the largest contiguous piece of private property in the state. Tejon Ranch’s agricultural operation primarily grows almonds, pistachios, and wine grapes, along with some alfalfa and the occasional row crop. Cattle leases cover about 250,000 acres (1,012 km), and depending on the season, up to 12,000 head of cattle can be found grazing on the ranch.
In 1843, the Mexican government made grants for the land that became three ranches: the 26,626-acre (107.75 km) Rancho Los Alamos y Agua Caliente; the 97,617-acre (395.04 km) Rancho El Tejon; and the 22,178-acre (89.75 km) Rancho Castac. A fourth tract, the 48,800-acre (197 km) Rancho La Liebre, was granted in 1846.
At the urging of Edward Beale, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California, the Sebastian Indian Reservation was established in 1853 on Rancho El Tejon, and Fort Tejon was established by the U.S. Army in 1854 on Rancho Castac. These were federal projects, consisting of major developments and improvements, on what was the Mexican grantees' private land.
In 1855, Edward Beale purchased Rancho La Liebre. The Army abandoned Fort Tejon in 1864. Beale bought Rancho El Tejon and Rancho de los Alamos y Agua Caliente in 1865, and Rancho Castac in 1866. With the purchase of these four Mexican land grants, Beale created the present day Tejon Ranch.
Beale's son, Truxtun Beale, sold the Tejon Ranch in 1912 to a syndicate of investors headed by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler and land developer Moses Sherman. Both had extensive holdings in the San Fernando Valley. In 1917, some surviving Kitanemuk Indians lived on Tejon Ranch.
In 1936, the Tejon Ranch Company became a public company, with the Chandler–Sherman group retaining a controlling interest. The Chandlers' Times Mirror Company sold its stake in 1997.
In 2012, the ranch suspended all hunting, following a 2011 California Department of Fish and Game investigation into the illegal killing of mountain lions. The investigation was initiated by a whistleblower who filed a lawsuit.
Tejon Ranch is the largest private landholding in California, and today is owned by Tejon Ranch Company, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Its principal activity is land development and agribusiness, increasing the value of real estate and resource holding on this land. The company operates in four segments of the economy:
A large number of California native plants occur on as yet undisturbed land owned by Tejon Ranch. It is situated at a section of the state where several ecoregions meet and overlap: the Mojave Desert, the Central Valley, the Sierra Nevada, and the Transverse Ranges of Southern California. The interaction of unique geography and varying climates has produced high biodiversity, as evidenced by showy spring wildflower blooms.
An agreement between the Tejon Ranch Company and a coalition of environmental groups, announced in May 2008, is designed to permanently protect 240,000 acres (970 km) of the historic ranch. It is the largest conservation and land-use pact in California history.
The agreement was finally reached to conclude 20 months of off-and-on negotiations, but only after a marathon three-day bargaining session in April 2008. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to the ranch in May of that year to take part in the announcement, but the signing of the agreement was done in private in June.
Highlights of the pact are:
Three development projects are in the pipeline for the Tejon Ranch Company.
The most extensive of these projects, Tejon Mountain Village is a proposed residential, commercial, and recreational development that has been a matter of heated debate for years in the Mountain Communities of the Tejon Pass. The development would include homes, commercial buildings, hotels, and golf courses.
Centennial is a proposed new town, or planned development, on the Tejon Ranch property.
Three large warehouses have been built by the Tejon Ranch Company as the first in what will be an industrial complex designed to compete with distribution centers in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Foreign-made goods will be trucked in from California ports like Oakland and Los Angeles and stored until they are delivered to retailers. About a third of the park is expected to be declared a foreign trade zone, allowing importers to defer payment of U.S. customs duty. The site also includes commercial use like restaurants, automobile service stations, and a large truck stop.