Jack London's Ranch Album: A Pictorial Biography


"A sweet land, Mate Woman, an almighty sweet land you and I have chosen . . . our Valley of the Moon." – Jack London
Our ranch tour consists of eight pages of information and photos. Hopefully you will come away with at least some idea what Jack London was trying to accomplish and how his Beauty Ranch grew. End
". . .I have found the land I want, and have closed the deal by paying $500.00, binding the bargain for a few days, when I must pay the balance, $6,500.00. The place was a bargain, one of those bargains that a man would be insane to let slip by. The entrance is a half-mile from a small town and two different railway stations. An electric road is soon to be constructed, when the running time to San Francisco will be cut down to an hour and a half. At present it is something like two hours and a half by the railroad.
. . .Woodchoppers were already at work when I snapped up the place. It had to be snapped up. Twenty years from now I'll wager it will be worth twenty times what I am now paying for it."
– Jack London
June 7, 1905
A Return to the Soil
In 1905 American writer, Jack London, had purchased 129 acres of ranch land in the Sonoma valley, and over time he continued to add adjoining acreage. While writing remained his vocation, farming became his avocation. As an enthusiast of scientific farming, he set out to make his "Beauty Ranch" the most modern in the west. He ardently advocated the scientific breeding of animals and imported many European Purebreds to improve his stock. With this in mind, we have attempted to address his agricultural experiment as well as his writings and life.
"I am the sailor on horseback! Watch my dust! Oh, I shall make mistakes a-many; but watch my dreams come true...Try to dream with me my dreams of fruitful acres. Do not be a slave to an old conception. Try to realize what I am after."
– Jack London
circa 1913
Sailor on Horseback
The "Sailor on Horseback" on the ranch.
Jack London the Visionary
London once said, "I believe the soil is our greatest asset." These words are truer, in our current world, than ever before! On his ranch he pioneered in soil conservation, using tillage and terracing to make fruitful again the worn-out hillside lands. He raised vegetables, grains, alphalfa, grapes, fruit trees, prunes, potatoes, spineless cactus, eucalyptus trees, horses, goats, chickens, hogs, beef, dairy cattle, prize-winning livestock and cut the biggest and best hay crops in Sonoma County. Whatever London attempted, he attempted in an all-or-nothing way, and his experimental farming methods were no different. His stepsister and Ranch Superintendent, Eliza Shepard, said it best:
. . . ."Jack's ambition was to develop a model farm; one of the best all-round ranches in the state, combining a stock ranch, fruit, grain, vegetables, vineyard and the like. He would have accomplished his plan had he lived, for his enthusiasm was unquenchable. His intense energy simply rioted in work. Success seemed only to stimulate him to greater and wider efforts."
Eliza Shepard, 1917
Ranch Restoration Project
A New Beginning
5 stars education award Next

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