Tejon Ranch

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Profile appeared in our 30-1 Issue – April 2013

For more than 150 years, Tejon Ranch Company has been dedicated to preserving the beauty and integrity of the near 270,000 acres of land it manages. Indeed, the commitment by the Ranch to “preserve California’s legacy” is as real and vibrant today as it’s ever been. Its well-known history is just a small part of what makes Tejon Ranch special, though. The past, present, and future plans of Tejon Ranch are all cause to celebrate what this amazing organization has and will bring to Kern County residents.

There are over two centuries of history associated with the land that is referred to as Tejon Ranch. It has been ascertained that the land was originally occupied by five different Native American tribes before 1800, and they occupied land from Castac Lake (also referred to as Tejon Lake) to the Antelope Valley and present-day Tehachapi. The ranch received its name from Lt. Francisco Ruiz, who named the area El Tejon, Spanish for badger, as he and his soldiers found a dead badger at the mouth of the canyon.

Ranch-Barn

In 1843, the Ranch was founded from a Mexican land grant, growing in size as the years progressed and founder General Edward Fitzgerald Beale purchased additional land grants. By that time, the 422 square miles that Beale purchased had already seen many historically significant occurrences. Kit Carson rode along the ranges of Tejon Ranch, where he scouted the area and trapped beaver. French trapper Peter Lebec was killed by a bear in the area where Fort Tejon was located. Built in 1854 and manned by the First Dragoons, Fort Tejon was once home to 225 troops and 15 buildings. The area is so expansive that it is rife with historical happenings. After all, the Ranch was established years before California was admitted as the 31st state. However, some of the most incredible situations have taken place in the more recent years. Vice President of Corporate Communications and Marketing Barry Zoeller confirmed that the Ranch will continue to have a substantial and positive impact on our county. One example is the recently developed Tejon Ranch Commerce Center. “The Commerce Center is a real hub for distribution facilities, and just last year two major companies opened warehouses there. We now have Ikea, Famous Footwear, Dollar General, and Caterpillar, Inc., established in the area.” Roughly 1,500 jobs have been created as a result of the Commerce Center, and that’s just the start. “By the time we are done with all that we have planned, we expect to have created a total of six to seven thousand jobs.”

The Ranch, in partnership with The Rockefeller Group, is also working to bring an upscale outlet center, named The Outlets at Tejon Ranch, to Kern County. With hopes of opening up in the spring of 2014, this fabulous shopping mecca will boast more than 70 upscale stores and is expected to generate anywhere between 800 to 1,000 jobs. Tejon Ranch will also be developing the mountain resort community of Tejon Mountain Village and the landmark new town of Centennial, which is planned for the southernmost part of the Ranch. Such things can be expected from Tejon, which is the only publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange headquartered in Kern County.

Beale-Adobe

However grand the plans may be, for many, the best part about all of the development that Tejon Ranch is experiencing is that it only makes up for 10 percent of the total land. Incredibly, the other 90 percent of the Ranch will never be developed. “As we see it,” Zoeller continued, “this is an appropriate and balanced approach. We get to preserve a great history, the land, and use a small portion of our property to create jobs, housing, economic opportunities, and wonderful places for people to visit.”

That doesn’t mean that the public will not still have their share of fun and excitement in the wilder areas, though. It’s just a completely different kind of fun! As part of the wildlife management program that Tejon Ranch offers, there are quite a few options for those who enjoy the great outdoors on a number of levels. There’s wildlife to observe all over the Ranch, from Rocky Mountain elk to quail. Recognized by the California Department of Fish and Game for its “outstanding contributions to the promotion of California’s rich hunting heritage,” Tejon’s wildlife management division offers a number of hunting memberships to choose from.

There is also a public access community hiking program run by the Tejon Ranch Conservancy. This organization hosts hikes (which range in difficulty) and historical tours on the land. A schedule is maintained and there are limitations on how many people can participate in these fun activities, so a visit to TejonConservancy.org prior to making any plans is a must.

Vaqueros

While preservation of the land and the history surrounding it are of utmost importance to the passionate people who operate Tejon Ranch, they clearly aren’t just focused on tending the land these days. In fact, in addition to everything else that they have going on, they’ve developed a men’s clothing line that bears that legendary name. Fine men’s shirts and pants are available both online at TejonClothing.com, as well as at Snead’s for Men in Bakersfield. What is even more exciting, Zoeller detailed, is those who are interested specifically in the historical aspects of the Ranch can find a plethora of pictures and a historical narrative in the coffee table book Tejon Ranch: Preserving the Legacy of a California Treasure, which was recently published and is available at TejonRanchStore.com.

The mission statement for Tejon Ranch is to preserve California’s past while providing for its future. With a clothing line, book, multiple locations to film, and countless activities to engage the public, it is evident that the folks out at the Ranch take their mission seriously. For the hundred-plus years of history that they are protecting and for the centuries to come, this is a commitment not to be taken lightly. If the past or present is any indication of whether or not they will be successful in protecting a legacy, it is safe to assume that success is a given.

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