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The Hearst Ranch is a ranch composed of two cattle ranches: San Simeon and Piedra Blanca. This ranch surrounds the Hearst Castle and comprises 80,000 acres (320 km2), one of the largest working cattle ranches on the California coast. The other ranch is the 73,000-acre (300 km2) Jack Ranch in Cholame, California, which was acquired in 1966 to complement the Hearst Ranch cattle operations. Cattle have been raised for many generations at the Jack Ranch, too. The Circle C brand used at the Jack Ranch is number 0002 in the California Brand Book, making it the oldest registered brand in California that is still in use today.
•1865 – George purchases the 48,000-acre (190 km2) Piedra Blanca Rancho
•1886 – Piedra Blanca Rancho grows to 270,000 acres (1,100 km2) (422 sq. miles)
•1891 – Senator George Hearst, elected in 1887, dies in Washington, DC.
•1919 – William Randolf Hearst begins building the Hearst Castle. The Hearst ranch is large integrated farming/ranching operation.
•1951 – WR Hearst dies.
•1965 – Hearst Corporation purchases the Jack Ranch
•2002 – Hearst Corporation and the American Land Conservancy announce the framework for the Hearst ranch Conservation Project to preserve the unique working landscape of the Hearst ranch forever.
•2005 – Hearst Ranch Conservation Project closes escrow transferring 13 miles (21 km) of coastline to State hands and forever protecting the 82,000-acre (330 km2) Hearst Ranch.
•2007 – Hearst Ranch Beef Kiosk Opens at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center (1)
The Hearst ranch is currently operated by Stephen Thompson Hearst, the great grandson of William Randolph Hearst and produces grass-fed beef for the retail markets, selling primarily to Whole Foods Market in Southern California.
In 2005, the Hearst Corporation, American Land Conservancy, California Rangeland Trust, and the State of California completed a comprehensive conservation project that permanently protects the 128-square-mile (330 km2) Hearst Ranch. A major component of the project is the conservation easement restricting future development on 80,000 acres (320 km2). The Hearst ranch is the largest privately owned working cattle ranch remaining on the California Coast. The conservation easement ensures that the scenic, open space, agricultural and natural resource values of the ranch are preserved. California Rangeland Trust holds, monitors and enforces the conservation easement.