OX Ranch Then and Now

Written by Sergio Ortiz


The OX ranch in the Mojave Desert has experienced grazing from non-native livestock for the past 150 years.

The presence of livestock can be traced back to the earliest Euro-American settlers who brought cattle to the area.

According to the Ranching History in the Mojave Preserve, Blackburn and Briggs along with other investors created the Rock Springs Land & Cattle company in 1894. (“Ranching History in the Mojave Preserve”)

Entrepreneurs saw an opportunity for growth with the construction of a railroad system and began raising cattle in hopes of expanding business.

A drought that lasted from 1920 to 1928 killed most of the cattle and led to the collapse of Rock Springs Land & Cattle Company.

Between 1928 and 1931, the million-acre ranch was divided into three separate ranches; Kessler Springs Ranch, Ox Ranch, and Valley View Ranch.

Ox Ranch which, consists of 400,000 acres, 100,000 acres more than Kessler Springs and Valley View Ranch.

In 1934, The Taylor Grazing Act required ranchers to put up fences and multiple water sources.

Ranching in the area is believed to have created many of the Preserves landscapes in Joshua Tree and Lanfair Valley.

OX Ranch was bought out by the Mojave National Preserve in 2000 and is administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

OX Ranch has changed a lot over the years, from a cattle company to a national park. These changes have impacted many aspects of the Preserve and another change might be coming to OX ranch.

Plans to create a permanent residence for artists, including photographers, painters, poets, and sculptors will soon become a reality. These artists will bring new perspectives and again putt the ranch back on the spotlight.