Tejon Ranch Co. donates deed signed by Pres. Lincoln to Autry Museum of the American West
Tejon Ranch commemorates its 175th Anniversary by gifting original Rancho El Tejon land grant deed bearing the signature of President Abraham Lincoln
(Tejon Ranch, CA) Tejon Ranch Co. (NYSE:TRC) today commemorated the 175th anniversary of the founding of Tejon Ranch by donating the original Rancho El Tejon federal deed, bearing the authorized signature of President Abraham Lincoln, to the Autry Museum of the American West.
Rancho El Tejon was the first of the four Mexican land grants that comprise the present-day Tejon Ranch, to be awarded by the Mexican government. The land grants were awarded at a time when Mexico wanted to extend its influence over Alta California by giving large portions of land to its citizens. On November 24, 1843, then Governor of Alta California, Manuel Micheltorena, awarded the 98,000-acre Rancho El Tejon to Juan Antonio Aguirre and Ignacio del Valle.
Following the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the land grants previously awarded by the Mexican government had to be confirmed and reauthorized by the United States government. Nearly 20 years after the original Mexican land grant had been awarded, on May 9, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln’s secretary, William O. Stoddard, affixed Lincoln’s signature to a deed recognizing Aguirre and del Valle as the rightful owners of Rancho El Tejon. That historic document, which has been in the possession of Tejon Ranch for more than 150 years, will now have a new home at the Autry Museum of the American West.
“We can think of no better way to recognize our 175 years as a California landmark than to give a significant part of our history to a museum that specializes in documenting, researching and exhibiting the American West – the Autry Museum,” said Tejon Ranch Co. President and CEO Greg Bielli. “When Tejon Ranch celebrated its 150th anniversary, Gene Autry himself was present, so it’s fitting that the Autry Museum play a part in commemorating our 175th by being the recipient of this historic document.”
Of note, is that the U.S. Surveyor General who confirmed the boundaries of Rancho El Tejon was Edward Fitzgerald Beale, who later purchased the rancho, and three adjacent ones, creating today’s 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch.
Located 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 miles south of Bakersfield, Tejon Ranch is the largest contiguous piece of private property in California. Throughout its 175-year history, Tejon Ranch – and its owners – have played a significant role in the development of both California and the nation.
Beale, the original owner and founder of today’s Tejon Ranch, was the first person to carry news to Washington, DC and the east coast that gold had been discovered in California, helping to trigger the largest mass migration in US history. At Beale’s urging, in 1854, the US Army opened Fort Tejon, the remains of which are located across the freeway from Tejon Ranch Co.’s corporate headquarters. In the late 1850s, the Fort Tejon area was the third largest inhabited settlement in Southern California. Beale was commissioned to improve the pass leading out of the Southern California mountains in what is now the Santa Clarita area. Because Beale’s Cut, as it was called, made travel between southern and northern California easier, it is credited by many historians as the reason why California was not divided into two states. Beale later surveyed the first transcontinental wagon road route through the west and eventually would be named US ambassador to Austria-Hungary by President Ulysses S. Grant.
Situated at the center of California, connecting both north and south, Tejon Ranch sits in a strategic location. It’s home to vital transportation and communications corridors, oil and gas pipelines, electrical transmission lines and more. 17 miles of the State Water Project crosses over or tunnels through Tejon Ranch, including the largest pumping plant in the system, which is critical to delivering water to Southern California. Interstate 5, formerly Highway 99, formerly the Ridge Route, formerly the Los Angeles – Stockton Road, formerly the route for the Butterfield Stage Coach line, all have passed through Tejon’s western boundaries.
In 2008, Tejon Ranch set the model for private conservation when it signed the Tejon Ranch Conservation and Land Use Agreement. This landmark agreement with five major environmental resource groups calls for Tejon Ranch to permanently conserve 240,000 acres of its property – 90% of the ranch. In 2009, the agreement was recognized with California’s most prestigious environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. The Bakersfield National Cemetery, a new veterans cemetery opened in 2009, rests on 500 acres that were donated by Tejon Ranch. The cemetery has subsequently been named a National Shrine.
Tejon Ranch uses a small portion of its land for real estate development. The Tejon Ranch Commerce Center and Outlets at Tejon, located at the junction of I-5 and Highway 99, is a destination for those traveling north and south through the state. It’s central location directly on Interstate 5 has also proven ideal for companies distributing their goods throughout California and the west. The Commerce Center is home to distribution centers for IKEA, Caterpillar, Dollar General, Famous Footwear, and in 2019, will be joined by L’Oréal USA’s professional salon distribution operation, Salon Centric. More than five million square feet of commercial/industrial space has been developed to date, creating nearly 4,000 jobs, with an additional 15 million square feet, and thousands of more jobs, to go.
Addressing both the current housing shortage in California, and preparing for future generations, Tejon Ranch is planning and will be developing three master planned mixed-use residential communities, two already approved in Kern County, and the other in the final stages of the entitlement process in Los Angeles County. Combined, and pending approval in Los Angeles County, the three Tejon Ranch communities would construct nearly 35,000 homes and build an additional 15 million square feet of commercial space, creating thousands of jobs and accommodating the pressing need for additional housing opportunities in the state.
A diversified company, Tejon Ranch also has a significant agricultural division. It leases portions of its land for a variety of uses, including oil exploration and production, mineral operations, and a natural gas-powered power plant. It also maintains cattle grazing leases over the vast majority of it property, operates wildlife management and equestrian operations, and opens its land for filming opportunities.
About Tejon Ranch Company (NYSE: TRC)
Tejon Ranch Co. (NYSE: TRC) is a growth-oriented, diversified real estate development and agribusiness company whose principal asset is its 270,000-acre historic land holding located approximately 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 25 miles south of Bakersfield. Celebrating its 175th year, Tejon Ranch is positioned for growth with its fully operational commercial/industrial real estate development and three master planned communities on the horizon.
Barry Zoeller, Vice President Corporate Communications & Investor Relations
(661) 663-4212 / email@example.com