When it comes to privately-owned land, most people would consider farms and ranches as large. But some ranches are far larger than others. Some people may have heard of the King Ranch in Texas, which covers 825,000 acres, or about the size of Rhode Island. However, even this ranch is not the largest, and some of America’s largest landowners own even more land. The family who owns the most land in America is the Emmerson Family.
If the nation’s private land were divided among the current population of the United States, each person would own about 4.19 acres. Of course, not everyone has the money or desire to invest in rural landholdings. While over 44 million households rent (rather than own) their homes, other individuals, families, and heirs own hundreds of thousands of acres.
To determine the largest landowner in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from The Land Report magazine’s 2021 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 they include only rural landholdings. Ownership must be deeded, not leased. Note that some of these landowners also lease significant tracts of pastureland from the federal government.
Many of the largest holdings are ranch land or timberland in the Southwest and on the West Coast. Accordingly, many of the large landowners own property in the ranching or forestry business, while some are also oil company owners or media or entertainment moguls. Almost no land in the Midwest or Northeast belongs to America’s major landowners, with the notable exception of forests in northern Maine. (This is the city in every state with the most billionaires.)
The largest landholder in America is the Emmerson Family, owners of the California-based lumber company Sierra Pacific Industries. In 2021, they acquired 175,000 acres in Oregon from Seneca Jones Timber. This raised the family’s holdings to 2.33 million acres.
No. 2 on the list is Liberty Media Chair John Malone, who owns 2.2 million acres of ranch and timber holdings, while third is the Reed family, who own a Washington-based forest products company with land holdings in California, Oregon, and Washington. (These are the richest Americans of all time.)
Click here to see which people own the most land in America
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