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These People Own the Most Land in America

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Trailing just Russia and Canada, the United States is the third-largest country in the world by landmass, covering nearly 2.3 billion acres. The largest overall landowner in the country is the U.S. government, with different departments — the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Defense and others — controlling different parts of federal land. While state governments also own much land, there are also private landowners who own hundreds of thousands of acres of land across the country — and a handful own over 1 million acres each.

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To determine the largest landowners in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from The Land Report magazine’s 2019 Land Report 100. The report’s estimates are based on information from other published reports, online databases, tax records and information provided by various landowners, and include only rural land holdings.

All told, the 50 individuals, families and heirs on this list own nearly 31 million acres — or about 1.4% of the country’s total landmass. For reference, 1 square mile is equal to 640 acres. 

The property owned by the nation’s largest landowners tends to cluster in certain areas — particularly the southwest and West Coast. The southern and western parts of Texas, as well as New Mexico, are popular among ranchers. Large swaths of California, Wyoming and Montana are used by owners to raise livestock, farm, ranch and produce timber. Almost no land in the Midwest or Northeast belongs to America’s major landowners, with the notable exception of the northern part of Maine.

Many of the people and families on this list are ranchers or oil company owners and are not household names. Yet a handful, like Jeff Bezos and Ted Turner, are prominent billionaires who bought huge tracts of land either for a business venture or simply for their own private use. Click here to see who owns the most land in America.

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50. Hadley Family

> Land area: 260,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of Hong Kong

The Hadley family, heirs of the Anheuser-Busch beer company fortune, own 260,000 acres, including the massive Diamond A Ranch, which makes up a substantial part of New Mexico’s southwestern tip.

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49. Lyda Family

> Land area: 260,035 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of San Antonio

The Lydas are Texas cattle ranchers and landowners. Their properties include the massive La Escalera ranch in West Texas.

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48. Galt Family

> Land area: 262,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: 2,500 times the size of Vatican City

The Galts are a family of cattle ranchers with a number of large properties in Montana, including the Martinsdale Ranch. Errol Galt is the former Montana Fish, Wildlife and Game commissioner.

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47. D.K. Boyd

> Land area: 262,585 acres
> Roughly equal to: Three times the size of Grenada

Rancher and oilman D.K. Boyd owns over a quarter million acres of American land, including ranches in the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico.

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46. True Family

> Land area: 272,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Three times the size of Raleigh, North Carolina

The True family runs oil drilling operations in several Western and Southern states like Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana and more.

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45. Babbitt Heirs

> Land area: 275,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: 80 times the size of Los Angeles International Airport

The Babbitts are long-time Arizona cattle ranchers who have been in the area since 1886. They own several large ranches in the northern part of the state.

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44. Lee Family

> Land area: 275,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Twice the size of Chicago

The Lee family owns an estimated 275,000 acres in New Mexico. The Lees are sheep and cattle ranchers who owe some of their wealth to the discovery of uranium and coal on their property in the western part of the state.

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By Billy Hathorn, CC BY 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

43. Anne Marion Estate

> Land area: 275,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Three times the size of Detroit

Heiress and rancher Anne Marion owned several major properties in Texas, including the famous 6666, or “Four Sixes,” cattle ranch in the southern Panhandle. After her death in February 2020, the 150-year-old ranch was listed for sale in three parcels, totaling an eye-popping $341,757,460.00 for the properties’ combined 266,254.7 acres.

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42. Killam Family

> Land area: 277,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: One quarter the size of Grand Canyon National Park

The Killam family deals largely in cattle and oil, with ranches in Texas and Oregon.

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Photographer: Carol M. Highsmith / Wikimedia Commons

41. Kokernot Heirs

> Land area: 278,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Three times the size of Detroit

The Kokernot family’s 06 Ranch brand registered in Texas since 1837. Both the family’s 06 Ranch and Leoncita Cattle Company ranch are in West Texas.

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40. Collier Family

> Land area: 280,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: One-tenth the size of Puerto Rico

Barron Collier was an advertising executive who developed land and infrastructure in southern Florida. Collier was the largest landholder in the state at the time of his death. Today, his family owns some 280,000 acres, primarily in Collier County, which is named after him.

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39. Fasken Family

> Land area: 280,648 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of Barbados

David Fasken, a Canadian, bought a ranch in West Texas in 1913. The discovery of oil on that ranch added to the family’s wealth, and now Fasken Oil & Ranch is a major oil drilling company that has heavily employed fracking technology. The Faskens have several major properties in West Texas.

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38. Llano Partners

> Land area: 284,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Three and a half times the size of Philadelphia

Under the livestock feeding company Llano Partners Ltd., Hughes Abell owns and operates ranching operations in New Mexico, Texas and Florida. Abell currently serves as the president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

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37. Bass Family

> Land area: 285,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: One-tenth the size of Connecticut

The Bass family fortune, like those held by many of the entries on this list, comes from oil and cattle ranching. Ed Bass helped build the brand-new $540 million Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

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36. Barta Family

> Land area: 286,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: One-fifth the size of Delaware

The Barta family, which owes its wealth to its prescription services company Sav-Rx, also owns one of the largest cattle ranching operations in Nebraska. The family owns numerous properties throughout the northern and eastern parts of the state.

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35. Mike Smith

> Land area: 295,980 acres
> Roughly equal to: Twice the size of Guam

Mike Smith owns nearly 300,000 acres, which are primarily spread throughout eastern Texas. His properties include the 11,800 acre Broseco Ranch, which contains two lakes that are 100 acres in size.

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34. Shannon Kizer

> Land area: 302,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of Phoenix, Arizona

Shannon Kizer owns 302,000 acres across five states: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Kizer’s farming and ranching operations produce peanuts, corn, wheat, dairy and cattle.

Read: 50 Cheapest Places To Buy Land in America

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33. Collins Family

> Land area: 311,395 acres
> Roughly equal to: Twice the size of Chicago

The late Truman Collins was a lumberman who became the largest private landholder in Pennsylvania before his death in 1914. Today, his living family members own over 311,000 acres of land in northern California and western Pennsylvania.

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32. Robinson and Freed Families

> Land area: 314,159 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of Los Angeles

Collectively, the Robinson and Freed families own 314,000 acres in partnership. Their land primarily consists of six cattle ranches in Utah.

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31. Stefan Soloviev

> Land area: 335,914 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of Phoenix, Arizona

Though he resides in New York City, Stefan Soloviev owns over 335,000 acres of land across New Mexico, Kansas and Texas. Much of the land is used to grow crops like wheat, corn and sorghum.

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30. Malone Mitchell III

> Land area: 336,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of the Hawaiian Island of Kaua’i

Malone Mitchell runs Longfellow Ranches, a 500-square-mile hunting preserve located in West Texas.

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29. Zane and Tanya Kiehne

> Land area: 364,668 acres
> Roughly equal to: Twice the size of Singapore

Zane and Tanya Kiehne own ranches that span seven counties in New Mexico and seven counties in Texas and consist mostly of mountainous terrain that is home to a variety of wildlife.

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28. Cullen Heirs

> Land area: 388,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Twice the size of the Maldives

The heirs to the late Texas oil titan Hugh Roy Cullen own nearly 400,000 acres of land across the country.

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27. Hughes Family

> Land area: 390,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Half the size of Yosemite National Park

Dan Hughes, patriarch of the Hughes family, was a wildcatter and oil tycoon in Texas. Together, his family owns 390,000 acres.

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26. Holding Family

> Land area: 395,030 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of Oklahoma City

The wife and children of the late Robert Earl Holding, who bought Sinclair Oil Corp. for $78 million in 1976, own nearly 400,000 acres. Their land includes the 190,000 acre Sunlight Ranch in Montana, just outside of Yellowstone National Park.

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25. Jeff Bezos

> Land area: 420,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Three times the size of Guam

Amazon founder and outgoing CEO Jeff Bezos is not only one of the richest men in the world, with a net worth of $190 billion at the time of this writing, but he is also one of the biggest private landowners in the United States. Bezos owns 420,000 acres. Much of his land is in West Texas.

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24. Philip Anschutz

> Land area: 434,500 acres
> Roughly equal to: One-quarter the size of Delaware

Philip Anschutz owns 434,500 acres of land in Wyoming and Colorado. Plans for his land in Wyoming include a massive wind farm that will rank among the largest in the world.

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23. Fisher Family

> Land area: 440,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Ten times the size of Washington, D.C

The Fisher family owns 440,000 acres of land, primarily timberland in northwestern California. Donald and Doris Fisher co-founded the clothing brand Gap Inc.

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22. Simplot Family

> Land area: 443,091 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of the island of Maui

Jack Simplot was a potato farmer who forged a deal with the former CEO of McDonald’s to supply the restaurant chain with french fries. Today, the Simplot family oversees a $2.5 billion farming operation and owns over 443,000 acres, largely in southern Idaho.

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21. D.R. Horton

> Land area: 508,410 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of Mauritius

D.R. Horton owns over half a million acres of land. His holdings include the 292,779-acre Great Western Ranch in New Mexico and Camp Horton, a ranch near Fort Stockton, Texas, where he hosts a children’s summer camp.

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20. Westervelt Heirs

> Land area: 518,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Half the size of Rhode Island

Herbert Westervelt started a paper company in the late 1800s. The company, now known as Westervelt Company, has operations in renewable energy, lumber and wildlife services. Westervelt’s heirs own over half a million acres across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.

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19. Martin Family

> Land area: 547,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Half the size of Anchorage, Alaska

The Martin family, owners of the nearly 100-year-old RoyOMartin Lumber Company, own over half a million acres of land, primarily in Louisiana.

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18. Stimson Family

> Land area: 552,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: One-third the size of Delaware

Founded by Thomas Douglas Stimson, the Stimson Lumber Company, which today operates out of the Pacific Northwest, has remained in the family for six generations. Today, the Stimson family owns 552,000 acres, primarily in Montana, Idaho and Oregon.

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17. Thomas Peterffy

> Land area: 581,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Twice the size of San Antonio, Texas

Thomas Peterffy arrived in the United States as a refugee from Hungary in 1965. Peterffy made a fortune as a successful investor and innovator on Wall Street. He became one of the largest landowners in the United States when he purchased 561,000 acres of land in northern Florida for $700 million in 2015. He bought more land recently.

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16. O’Connor Family

> Land area: 587,800 acres
> Roughly equal to: Seven times the size of Philadelphia

Heirs of the late Thomas O’Connor, who immigrated to the United States from Ireland in the late 1800s, own over half a million acres, including the O’Connor Ranch in south Texas. The family patriarch owned half a million acres in Texas, and the family fortune grew considerably when his son discovered oil on family land.

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15. Ford Family

> Land area: 600,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Twice the size of Los Angeles

The descendants of the late Kenneth Ford own 580,000 acres primarily in Oregon. Ford made a career in the timber business during the Great Depression.

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14. Lykes Heirs

> Land area: 615,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Three times the size of New York City

The Lykes heirs own a 300,000+ acre ranch in Florida, which includes sugar cane and cattle operations, as well as a 264,555-acre ranch in West Texas. The Lykes heirs are descendants of the late Dr. Howell Tyson Lykes, who left a career in medicine to raise cattle and grow citrus.

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13. Briscoe Family

> Land area: 640,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Three times the size of Dallas

The combined landholdings of the heirs of former Texas governor, the late Dolph Briscoe Jr., total 640,000 acres. Their holdings include the 100,000-acre Catarina Ranch in southern Texas.

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12. Wilks Brothers

> Land area: 705,475 acres
> Roughly equal to: Five times the size of Chicago

Brothers Farris and Dan Wilks launched Frac Tech, a natural gas extraction company, in 2002 and sold it for $3.5 billion in 2011. Since then, they have been acquiring land. The largest landowners in both Montana and Idaho, the Wilks brothers also own ranches in Oregon, Tennessee and Texas.

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11. Pingree Heirs

> Land area: 830,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Two and a half times the size of Phoenix

David Pingree, known as the Merchant Prince of Salem, built an empire that exceeded 1 million acres in the 1800s. Today, between his fifth, sixth and seventh generation of descendants, Pingree’s heirs own some 830,000 acres, mostly in Maine, through Seven Islands Land Co., a lumber company.

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By Darryn Rose - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

10. King Ranch Heirs

> Land area: 911,215 acres
> Roughly equal to: Three times the size of Los Angeles

The King Ranch heirs own ranches in southern Texas that spread across over 900,000 acres. The ranch spawned from land was originally purchased by Captain Richard King in 1853 and subsequently passed down through generations.

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9. Singleton Family

> Land area: 1,110,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Three times the size of Houston

The Singleton family owns a number of ranches, mostly in New Mexico. The family’s 1.1 million acres of land also includes land in California.

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8. Brad Kelley

> Land area: 1,139,984 acres
> Roughly equal to: Half the size of Puerto Rico

Brad Kelley’s investment group purchased the well-known Calumet Farm, a thoroughbred horse breeding and training facility in Kentucky, in 2012. Today, most of Kelley’s 1.2 million acres are located in Kentucky.

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7. Peter Buck

> Land area: 1,236,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of Trinidad and Tobago

Peter Buck made his fortune as a founding partner of the Subway restaurant franchise. Buck is the owner of Tall Timbers Trust, one of the largest owners of timberland in Maine. All told, Buck owns over 1.2 million acres, primarily in Maine.

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6. Irving Family

> Land area: 1,247,880 acres
> Roughly equal to: As large as Anchorage, AK

The Irving family is the sixth-largest private landholder in the United States. In addition to the 1.2 million acres the family owns, primarily in Maine, the Irvings also own about 2 million acres in Canada.

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5. Stan Kroenke

> Land area: 1,380,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: The size of Prince Edward Island

Real estate mogul and owner of the Los Angeles Rams Stan Kroenke owns 1.4 million acres of land in the United States, including a 124,000-acre ranch in Montana and additional land in Wyoming. Kroenke is married to Ann Walton Kroenke, an heiress to the Walmart fortune.

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MIKE CRANE PHOTOGRAPHY / Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. Reed Family

> Land area: 1,726,295 acres
> Roughly equal to: Half the size of Connecticut

For five generations, the Reed family has owned and operated the logging company Green Diamond Resource Co. The family’s 1.7 million acres of land are primarily spread across Washington, Oregon and California.

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3. Ted Turner

> Land area: 2,000,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Twice as large as Rhode Island

CNN founder Ted Turner owns 2 million acres of land largely in New Mexico, South Dakota, Nebraska and Georgia. Much of Turner’s land is used as grazing land for over 50,000 head of buffalo — the largest private bison herd in the world.

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2. Emmerson Family

> Land area: 2,078,032 acres
> Roughly equal to: A third of the size of Vermont

The Emmerson family owns and operates Sierra Pacific Industries, a company that logs usable lumber after forest fires and sells it to lumber retailers. Through Sierra Pacific, the family owns some 2 million acres in California and Washington.

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1. John Malone

> Land area: 2,200,000 acres
> Roughly equal to: Half the size of Lake Ontario

John Malone is the largest private landowner in the United States. Malone made his fortune as a media tycoon, building the company Tele-Communications, Inc, or TCI, and acting as its CEO before selling it to AT&T for $50 billion in 1999. Malone’s 2.2 million acres are largely located in Maine, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming and include profitable cattle ranches.

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