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Waggoner Ranch: 1 Year Later

A lot has happened this year on the Waggoner Ranch. Last February, the Waggoner sold to Stan Kroenke after being listed for $725 million. With the sale, 165+ years of family ownership came to an end. The largest ranch under one fence in the United States remains a contiguous working ranch, although things have changed throughout the year.

Stan Kroenke bought the Waggoner Ranch 1 year ago

After the sale of the ranch, the bunkhouse and cook shack closed down. About one third of the Waggoner cowboys have retired or been let go. Then the Waggoner made news when Kroenke forced Lake Diversion residents to leave their homes.

“But they will survive. They are cowboys. They live by another ethic that reveals itself in their work and how they relate to each other. They value people over things. They have a sense of personal responsibility. They know who they are, and they aren’t going to be less than that for anybody.” -Jan Batts in Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch

The cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch are resilient men, adept at coping with life’s many unpredictable changes. Bobby Daniel has retired to Seymour, Texas, where he raises goats. Some cowboys have moved on to other ranches. And many show up day after day to work the largest ranch under one fence in the United States as they have for decades.

The Waggoner Ranch was family owned for 165+ years before selling to Stan Kroenke in 2016

A year after the sale, we’re proud to be telling the story of this historic ranch and the cowboys who have called it home. Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch was photographed the year before the ranch sold, preserving a way of life for future generations.

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Waggoner Ranch in the News

The Waggoner Ranch made news Friday for a story that saddens us deeply. Texoma’s Homepage News reports that hundreds of Lake Diversion residents are being forced to leave their homes by the ranch’s new owner, Stan Kroenke.  This move by Kroenke, who purchased the ranch in February, is the latest in a string of changes on the ranch, which include closing the cook shack and bunkhouse.

Hundreds of Lake Diversion Residents are being forced to leave their homes by Stan Kroenke, the new owner of the Waggoner Ranch

Family ties on the Waggoner Ranch run deep. Many Lake Diversion residents have called the ranch their home for generations. According to Texoma’s Homepage News, the residents have received notice to vacate the premises and remove all property by January 31. You can watch NBC TV 3’s video coverage of this story here.

Lake Diversion residents own their homes but lease the land underneath. According to a GoFundMe page set up by a resident’s family member, homeowners were assured by the Waggoner family that any future owners would honor the lease. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

We are saddened by this news and will continue to follow the story closely. Our thoughts are with the many families facing the loss of their homes.

Updated August 11, 2016:

Outrage at Stan Kroenke’s decision to force out Lake Diversion residents has grown throughout the week. The Dallas Morning News picked up the story, saying, “Los Angeles Rams owner and billionaire Stan Kroenke is making people move again.” That’s right, again. Kroenke sparked the ire of St. Louis residents when he bought the St. Louis Rams then relocated them to Los Angeles. The team’s move inspired lawyer Terry Crouppen to take out a #SlamStan Super Bowl ad.  The ad aired exclusively in the St. Louis area.

Of course, losing your local football team is hard; but losing your family’s home creates hardships than seem nearly impossible to overcome. Annette McNeil, a Lake Diversion resident, contacted the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after seeing the notice requiring residents to leave by January 31. The article published by the paper reveals the real struggle these residents are facing:

“McNeil said a neighbor recently spent nearly $40,000 renovating his place. She said another finalized a cabin purchase just six months ago. She said another received sticker shock when he requested an estimate to move his small metal house: $10,000.”

The residents of Lake Diversion trusted the ranch owners to respect the history of the ranch and continue the land lease. As that situation changes, many elderly and fixed income residents are facing enormous financial hardship, as well as the emotional blow of losing their homes.

Follow us on Facebook for more updates as this story develops. 

Author’s note: Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch is not affiliated with the past or current owners of the ranch in any way. This book was independently published to document the lives of the working cowboys on the ranch. 

Waggoner Ranch Sold

Several media outlets, including the Times Record News and Bloomberg Business, are reporting that the Waggoner Ranch was sold in a Vernon courtroom to the Los Angeles Rams/Denver Nuggets owner. Not including the Waggoner, reported owner Stan Kroenke owns 848,631 acres of working ranches in the US.

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Until today, the Waggoner Ranch has been under the same family ownership since 1849. Texas was founded in 1845.

In 2015, photographer Jeremy Enlow was given exclusive access to the to the cowboys behind the prestigious reversed triple D brand of the Waggoner Ranch, the largest ranch in the United States under one fence. He shot thousands of images, culminating in the publication of his first book, Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch. The book is produced here in Texas. Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch has been hailed as one of the best coffee table books of the year. Enlow is passionate about documenting the lives of these cowboys, whose way of life and working has not changed much throughout the ranch’s history.

As the ranch changes hands today, we are grateful for all of the photographs, stories, and lives we have had the opportunity to document.

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