There is nothing the least bit contrived about this place. Lone Pine Ranch is the land legacy of stock market titan, Dean Witter. “Authentic” is the most fitting single word description of this historic landholding spanning across Trinity and Mendocino counties in Northern California. Comprised of three large ranches purchased by Mr. Witter starting in 1942, this ranch is gargantuan in size and nonpareil in natural beauty. With over 26,600 deeded acres all in one contiguous block, it is supported by viable cattle and timber operations. The ranch is conservatively estimated to have a carrying capacity of over 800 cows and approximately 30% of the ranch is a tenderly managed timber resource. There are over 16.5 miles of frontage on Northern California's Eel River, which covets National Wild and Scenic designation. Salmon and steelhead still migrate into these waters from the Pacific Ocean, and resident wildlife includes plentiful populations of elk, blacktail deer, pig, bear and quail. The old-time improvements convey the sense of a living museum. The main home, built in the 1930s, overlooks the Eel River canyon from a vantage point that still looks today much like it did when Mr. Witter made the decision to build here. The creak of the screen doors is an auditory time machine that journeys back to the innocent joys of childhood.
Just the Facts
- 26,601± deeded acres
- Over 16.5 miles of Eel River frontage which covets National WIld and Scenic designation
- Cattle and timber operations
- Strong and diverse wildlife populations
- Classic improvements
- The land legacy of Dean Witter
- Temperate climate
This huge holding is approximately 14 miles long from north to south and 6 miles wide at its widest point. There is a predominant ridge that generally runs in a north-south direction dividing the ranch into two distinct parts. The east side of this divide is characterized by large, dense stands of mature timber intermixed with meadows and several wetlands and ponds. West of this divide, there is less timber and more open grassland all of which falls off to the west towards the Eel River. The Eel itself winds its way to the northwest and serves as the boundary of the property for more than 15 miles by our calculations. The old Northern Pacific Railroad track runs along the east side of the Eel River but has long since been defunct and out of operation.
There are two primary entrances to the ranch both of which come in from the east side. One entrance is closer to the north end of the ranch and the other closer to the south. The ranch was acquired in three stages by Dean Witter starting in 1942. Each of the three acquisitions, Lone Pine Ranch, Armstrong Ranch and The Horse Ranch, are collectively known as “Lone Pine Ranch”. There are three clusters of improvements each of which is situated on the original acquisitions. One of these clusters, the Armstrong Ranch, is located east of the predominant ridge in the northern region of the ranch. The Horse Ranch is also located east of the divide and is closer to the southern third of the ranch from north to south. The Lone Pine Ranch compound is situated near the northern boundary of the ranch not far east of the Eel River and south of Kekawaka Creek. It is perched in a spot that absorbs impressive elevated views of the river bottom. There is a tremendous amount of topographic diversity on the ranch and the road system is impressive as it provides good vehicular access to most parts of the ranch. Elevations range from just below 400 feet at the downstream end of the Eel River to over 4,150 feet on Horse Ranch Peak.
Lone Pine Ranch easily would find its way onto my “Top Ten” list of favorite ranches I have seen in my career of 25 years. But my comments in no way could match those of Bill Witter’s: “The ranch both reflects and informs the values of care, wise stewardship, prudent investment and a respect for the natural world that this family has sought to align with through the generations.”
Learn about the locale
The ranch is located at the western edge of the Six Rivers National Forest at the northern end of Mendocino County and the southern end of Trinity County. Garberville is less than 40 miles by car west of the ranch. Roads are winding here, though, so travel time is close to 1.5 hours. Covelo is about the same distance and travel time to the southeast. There are small, public airports in both towns but there is no commercial air service to either. The closest commercial airline service is in Eureka, California a little less than 3 hours away by car.
California is a populated place, but the north coast region is an exception. Lone Pine Ranch is situated on the western side of Lake Mountain, between the Eel River and Lake Mountain Road where there are many more animals than there are people. Situated amidst the Six Rivers, Mendocino, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests, the locale can be described as mountainous and remote yet accessible. Large landholdings are not uncommon here, but Lone Pine Ranch is of exceptional size. Land uses are primarily timber, livestock operations, agriculture, and rural homesites. Recreation is the biggest draw to nonresidents. The landscape is full of wild rivers, rugged mountains, wildlife, dense timber and dramatic views.
With such a strong elevation range, what is happening in one place on the ranch may be very different than what is happening in another area. Still, the climate can best be described as mild but with pronounced seasons. Summer days are warm with cool nights. Most rainfall occurs between November and June with an annual average around 60 inches. Mid-winter low temperatures rarely fall below the freezing mark. Snow will occur on occasion at the higher elevations of the ranch but quickly melts away.
Learn more about the property
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Farmstead: 45± Acres
Timber: 6,900± Acres
Grazing: 19,656± Acres
Deeded Acres: 26,601±
Total Leased Acres: 0±
Total Acres: 26,601±
Cattle and Equipment will be made available for purchase but are not included in the price. No other personal property is available for purchase.
Structural Improvements exist in three clusters at each of the three ranches that comprise the Lone Pine Ranch. Electricity is connected to the power grid and is available at the Lone Pine Ranch farmstead while the other ranch farmsteads are serviced by solar systems, hydropower or diesel generators. Telephone lines service all three farmsteads. Following is a description of the improvements located at each of the three farmsteads.
Lone Pine Ranch Farmstead Area
Main Residence: The main residence (5,300 square feet, plus 120 square foot covered porch) is a ranch style irregular-shaped structure that is partially single-story and partially two stories. The foundation is primarily raised concrete, with slab floor in some of the lower story areas. It has a wood frame, wood siding, and painted steel roof. The main living area has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, a large open ceiling living room, formal dining room (with butler’s pantry), and a breakfast area with a sitting room off the kitchen. Interior floors are wood and linoleum; walls are wallboard and paneling. The lower story area has four bedrooms (with direct outside access) and two bathrooms. The house is situated on a hillside with views of the Eel River. It has one central air conditioning unit and four window air conditioning units. The original blueprints of the house, dated 1930, indicate they were commissioned by J Sheldon Potter, whose family had large land holdings in California from mid-late 19th century.
Dwelling (on hill)
This dwelling (1,190 square feet, plus 96 square foot covered porch) is a single-story ranch style, slightly irregular-shaped structure used for ranch labor housing. It has a raised concrete foundation, wood frame, wood siding, and aluminum roof. There are two bedrooms and one bathroom. Unfinished storage area with a dirt floor is located beneath a portion of the structure.
This structure (972 square feet, plus 240 square foot covered porch) is a single-story ranch style rectangular-shaped structure that is typically used for ranch labor housing. It has a raised concrete foundation, wood frame, wood siding, and aluminum roof.
This structure (2,500 square feet) has a mud sill and rock foundation, wood plank floor, wood frame and siding, and galvanized iron roof.
This structure (2,000 square feet) has a raised concrete foundation, dirt floor, wood frame and siding, and galvanized iron roof.
Pole Equipment Shed
This structure (1,370 square feet) has a concrete and mud sill foundation, concrete slab and dirt floor, wood pole frame and siding, and galvanized iron roof.
Site improvements include landscaping, fencing, graveled driveway areas, and a heated swimming pool (17’ x 38’).
Horse Ranch Farmstead Area
The manager’s residence (1,140 square feet, plus 432 square foot covered porch) is a single-story ranch style rectangular-shaped structure. It has a raised concrete foundation, wood frame, wood siding, and galvanized iron roof. There are two bedrooms and one bathroom, a kitchen and sitting room. It is situated on a hillside with views of a large canyon landscape area.
This structure (400 square feet) is located near the manager’s residence, has a mud sill foundation, wood frame, wood siding, and painted steel roof.
This dwelling (1,860 square feet) is a single-story ranch style slightly irregularshaped structure used for ranch labor housing. It has a raised concrete foundation, wood frame, wood siding, and galvanized iron roof.
This structure (572 square feet) is located near the log house, has a mud sill foundation, wood frame, wood siding, and painted steel roof. It has two bedrooms, one bath, living room and kitchen.
Small Bunk House
This structure (1,130 square feet, plus 96 square foot covered porch) is a singlestory ranch style rectangular-shaped structure used for ranch labor housing. It has a raised concrete foundation, wood frame, wood siding, and galvanized iron roof.
This 10-stall structure (2,280 square feet, plus 312 square feet upstairs storage) has a mud sill foundation, dirt floor, wood pole frame and siding, and galvanized iron roof.
Pole Equipment Shed
This structure (2,400 square feet) has concrete, mud sill, and concrete pier foundation, concrete slab, wood frame and siding, and galvanized iron roof.
This structure (2,635 square feet) has a dirt floor, wood pole frame, and painted steel roof.
This structure (2,220 square feet) has a mud sill foundation, dirt floor, wood pole frame, galvanized iron siding, and galvanized iron roof.
This structure (1,920 square feet) has a concrete foundation, dirt floor, wood frame, wood siding, and galvanized iron roof.
A cattle scale with pole shed (288 square feet) is located at the corrals. The scale nameplate indicates Edwards model 5x5, serial no. 1017, 2.5 tons capacity. The weighing platform is 8’x16’ with board fence sides and gates.
Armstrong Ranch Farmstead Area
The dwelling (1,104 square feet) is a single-story ranch style L-shaped structure. It has a raised concrete foundation, wood frame, wood siding, and galvanized iron roof. There are two bedrooms, one bath, kitchen, and half story sleeping loft.
This structure (1,188 square feet) has a concrete slab floor, wood frame, wood siding, and painted steel roof.
Pole Hay Barn
This structure (2,400 square feet, plus 1,600 square foot overhangs) has a dirt floor, wood pole frame, open siding, and painted steel roof (18’ clear span).
This structure (1,536 square feet) has a concrete pier foundation with a dirt floor, wood frame, wood siding, and galvanized iron roof.
Site improvements include landscaping, fencing, and graveled driveway areas.
In addition to the farmstead improvements details above there are cattle facilities located elsewhere on the ranch as follows:
This structure (800 square feet) has a raised concrete foundation with a concrete slab floor, wood frame, galvanized iron siding, and galvanized iron roof.
A cattle scale with open-sided pole shed (342 square feet) is located at the corrals. The scale nameplate indicates Edwards model 5x5, serial no. 1032, 10,000 pounds capacity. The weighing platform is 7’x14’ with board fence sides and gates.
The extensive wood corrals are set up for livestock handling, including alleys, a working chute area, etc.
This structure (3,500 square feet) has a raised concrete and mud sill foundation with a dirt floor, wood frame, wood siding, and aluminum roof.
There is a timber component of ranch operations which has traditionally generated some revenue for ranch operations. Recent timber cruise information is available upon request.
Taxes are approximately $56,000 annually.
Learn about the recreational amenities
Wildlife on the ranch includes deer, elk, bear and pigs. There are also plentiful numbers of quail. Kekawaka Creek reportedly has populations of wild trout and the Eel River itself is known to have salmon and steelhead runs. The recreational resources of the ranch are diverse and year-round. Aside from fishing and hunting, one can enjoy mountain biking, horseback riding, river rafting and kayaking, hiking and a host of other outdoor activities.
Learn about the general operations
As has been mentioned elsewhere herein, the ranch is an aggregation of three previously existing ranches. The same family owns a smaller non-contiguous ranch of about 3,000 acres to the north of Lone Pine Ranch. All four ranches have been operated as a single, operating unit for numerous decades. The carrying capacity of the Lone Pine Ranch has been estimated at 800 cow-calf pairs. Higher elevations are utilized during the summer months while the feed in the lower elevations is reserved for winter. Winter has required supplemental feeding of 3-400 tons of hay.
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