Dumbbell Ranch

$16,700,000 Hyannis, NE 15,568± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

The Dumbbell Ranch is one of the founding and most historic ranches of the Nebraska Sandhills. The ranch is in the heart of the Sandhills and consists of 15,568± deeded acres in Cherry and Grant County, Nebraska. The ranch is located seven miles north of Hyannis on State Highway 61. The ranch features two full sets of headquarters with improvements, rolling native rangeland, along with sub-irrigated meadows producing over 1,800 tons of hay annually. The Sandhills are noted for the abundant water provided by the Ogallala Aquifer, and the Dumbbell Ranch lies in the deepest part of the aquifer. The ranch has numerous lakes and live water throughout the property that provides excellent wildlife and waterfowl habitat. The Dumbbell Ranch has historically been a 900-head year-round cow/calf operation and has been operated by the Anderson family since 1913.

Just the Facts

  • Historic Sandhill foundational ranch
  • Located in the heart of the Ogallala Aquifer
  • 15,568± deeded acres
  • 1,000± sub-irrigated meadow acres
  • 900 cow year-round operation
  • Live water
  • Pipeline
  • Twenty-seven windmills
  • Eight solar wells
  • Numerous artesian wells
  • Two separate full headquarters
  • Average over 1,800 tons of hay production annually
  • Thriving wildlife population
  • Trophy whitetail and mule deer hunting
  • Fishing
  • Highway access
  • Seven miles from schools

General Description

The Dumbbell Ranch is an exemplary example of a Nebraska Sandhill Ranch. It offers a vast native range with ample sub-irrigated meadows for excellent livestock and wildlife habitat. The ranch has strategically planted mature winter shelterbelts for storm and winter livestock protection. The ranch has historically been operated as an 900-head cow/calf year-round operation. The ranch has transitioned over to a late April calving date with lower hay consumption and more of a winter grazing operation to lower operating costs. However, the ranch has produced as high as 2,600 tons of hay in years past. Over the last 20 years, the sub-irrigated meadows have averaged 1.75 tons per acre of hay production. The most valuable aspect of the sub-irrigated meadows is the lush green aftergrowth that is available for fall grazing. The north summer range located in Survey Valley is 11 miles north of the south main unit. The summer range consists mainly of rolling hills with nice grass valleys. There is some sub-irrigated meadows mixed throughout the summer range that is used primarily for grazing. The ranch has upgraded and increased watering facilities, installed new fencing to divide large pastures, planted shelterbelts of shrubs and trees, and improved monitoring of rangeland.

Broker's Comments

The historic Dumbbell Ranch is multi-generational with a long-storied past. It is one of the earliest and foundational ranches of the Sandhills. The ranch provides a very well-balanced combination of native rolling hills, sub-irrigated meadows, excellent winter protection, and water. Ranches of this stature and quality rarely come to market. If you want to be in the cattle business, why not do it in the top cow county in the nation and the Dumbbell Ranch. 

Learn about the locale


The Dumbbell Ranch is located seven miles north of Hyannis, Nebraska, on State Highway 61. Hyannis is located 59 miles from Alliance. Hyannis has an elementary and high school, grocery, hardware, livestock supply store, and a gas station. The ranch headquarters lie at the head of a large sub-irrigated meadow that creates the head of the Middle Loup River. Currently, the Dumbbell Ranch is split into two contiguous camps, along with the summer ground (Survey Valley) 11 miles north on highway 61. The first camp is called “Headquarters” and it is located on the east side of Highway 61. The “Quinn” runs adjacent from headquarters, on the west side of Highway 61. Both camps start at the county line between Grant and Cherry County, extending north approximately three miles.  


The ranch lies deep in the Sandhills region of Cherry and Grant County, Nebraska. The Sandhills is a region of mixed-grass prairie on grass-stabilized sand dunes covering most of the western part of the state. They are highlighted by the sub-irrigated meadows that lay in the valleys between ranges of the grass covered dunes. The Sandhills sit atop the massive Ogallala Aquifer, creating shallow lakes and tributaries to many miles of rivers. The features of the Sandhills create the perfect environment for cattle production ranches. The Hyannis area is home to some of the largest and most storied operations of the western US, and Cherry County is the top cattle-producing county in the US. The cattle operations of the area are still very family oriented and traditional. 


The climate in the Sandhills is considered a semi-arid region with adequate rainfall and low humidity.

  • Summer High: The July high is around 86 degrees
  • Winter Low: The January low is 14
  • Rain: Averages 20 inches of rain a year
  • Snow: Averages 35 inches of snow a year


The Dumbbell Headquarters was established in 1887 with the acquisition of a homestead site by Dr. A.J. Plummer, while his fiancé Anna, a nurse, acquired the Quinn place. Hoping the railroad would be built through this valley, they constructed a 3,000 square foot ranch-style house to serve as a maternity hospital. Unfortunately for them, the tracks were instead laid in the valley where present-day Hyannis is.

Dr. Plummer gave the ranch its name after he accidentally whacked his thumb with a hammer while building the hospital. He exclaimed, “Only a dumbbell would do that!” and it stuck. While running the hospital, Dr. Plummer continued to buy land to expand his cattle operation before he moved to Montana in 1906. The ranch’s brand looks like a vertical dumbbell and is still used today, along with the Flying A brand.

In 1906 the ranch was sold in its entirety to Louis Wolf. In 1910, Wolf sold the ranch to William W. Ault. Gustaf E. Anderson financed the purchase and in 1913 became the sole owner. Ault would go on to manage the ranch until 1929 and was the first of many outstanding managers over the last 100+ years of the Dumbbell Ranch.

In its prime, the Dumbbell Ranch grew to 52,000 acres. In 1937 Gustaf and his wife passed away and their three children (Walter, Ethel, and Gordon) split the ranch into three sections, each with its own brand. They drew each of the brands on three cards. The Ace of Spades was the Pitchfork brand, the Ace of Hearts was the 3 Circles brand, and the Ace of Diamonds was the Dumbbell brand. The three cards were thrown into a hat and then each sibling drew a card. Gordon E. Anderson picked the Ace of Diamonds and received the Dumbbell Ranch. He eventually passed it down to his son Gerald E. Anderson who then handed it down to his children, Gordon E. Anderson, and Anne Anderson Bennett.

There are still cowboys in the Hyannis area that either lived on or remember the ”old days” of the Dumbbell. There was a time that up to ten cowboys resided in the bunkhouse, meals were served in the cookhouse (which has since been torn down), and the chuckwagon still rolled during branding season. They say that they would saddle a horse, ride 17 miles north to Survey Valley, then catch another horse out of the herd kept at the “Shithouse” pasture trap to check on summer cattle. Then they would ride the 17 miles back to Dumbbell Headquarters. 

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

The Dumbbell Ranch is comprised of 15,568± deeded acres. The ranch is highlighted by over 1,000± acres of sub-irrigated meadows. 

Deeded Acres: 15,568±
Total Leased Acres:
Total Acres: 15,568±


The historical “White Mansion” house is located at the main headquarters and was built in 1888 by Dr. A.J. Plummer and was intended to be a maternity hospital. The White Mansion House served its purpose for a short time and has been kept up over the years and is currently used as the main house. The 3,200 square foot house is a two-story, five bedrooms with an attached garage. Also, at the main headquarters are shop, barn, calving shed, and cattle working facilities. The west camp is known as the “Quinn”. The Quinn is complete with a three-bedroom trailer house with attached addition. Is also has a newly constructed three-stall garage and an open front storage building, a calving shed with tack room, and full cattle working facilities. The north summer range, known as Survey Valley, has a full set of shipping corrals located near the highway.

Water Resources

The Dumbbell Ranch lies atop the vast Ogallala Aquifer, and near the Hyannis area, the aquifer is noted to be up to 5,000 feet deep. The aquifer creates shallow Sandhill lakes and long sub-irrigated meadows that have man-made ditches draining the water and creating year-round flows. The sub-irrigated meadows on the ranch are known to be the headwaters for the Middle Loup River. The ranch has an excellent livestock watering system in place, which includes 27 windmills, eight solar wells, underground pipeline, and numerous artesian wells. Livestock does not have to travel far to get a fresh drink of water with all the watering sites and live water. 

Mineral Rights

All seller-owned mineral and water rights will transfer to the buyer.


Annual property taxes are estimated at $56,648 based upon past years.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Wildlife Resources

The Dumbbell is home to a wide variety of wildlife that includes mule deer, antelope, whitetail deer, coyotes, badgers, skunks, raccoons, and a diverse bird population, including turkeys, waterfowl, and a few pheasants. The shallow Sandhill lakes also provide fishing opportunities for varied types of game fish. There are even some elk that travel through Survey Valley throughout the year. The shelterbelts, pastures, and numerous ponds and lakes give wildlife the ability to find protection, rear young, and flourish.

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