Legendary Wyoming Pitchfork Ranch For Sale

For those who have ever envisioned owning their own ranch, particularly a piece of historically rich land, a cool $67 million can transform that dream into reality. Situated in the Greybull River valley in Northwestern Wyoming, this expansive property spans 96,000 acres, offering natural grass, freshwater, and natural shelter for livestock.

The current listing marks only the third occasion in its 145-year history that the ranch is available for sale, surpassing even the duration of Wyoming’s existence as a state. Priced at $67 million, this listing stands as the most expensive in the state at present. Despite the substantial price, there is considerable interest among potential buyers for this unique and historic piece of land.

History of the Pitchfork Ranch

stablished in 1878 by Otto Franc Von Lichtenstein, also known as Otto Franc, the Pitchfork Ranch came into existence where the buffalo freely roamed. Recognizing the abundance of wildlife, including elk, mountain sheep, deer, antelope, bears, and buffalo thriving without human intervention, Frank saw the potential for a successful cattle operation on the land. The natural water sources, teeming with beaver, muskrat, and mink, further made it suitable for cattle.

While the exact number of cattle owned by Franc remains unclear, historical accounts indicate that he herded 1,200 Hereford shorthorns from Oregon and continued to bring in Herefords from the Gallatin Valley of Montana. At its peak, the ranch spanned 250,000 acres, supporting 10,000 Hereford cattle and 20,000 Rambouillet sheep, according to pitchforkranch.com.

Unfortunately, Franc did not witness the ranch’s zenith, as he tragically died in 1903 when he accidentally shot himself while navigating a barbed wire fence. LG Phelps acquired the ranch from Franc’s estate following his untimely death.

Phelps’ son, having befriended Charles Belden during their time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, introduced Belden to the ranch. Belden, skilled in photography since childhood, became the “photographer of the Pitchfork,” contributing significantly to the ranch’s renown. Many of Belden’s photos, taken between 1914 and 1940, were featured in national magazines, including National Geographic and Life magazine, where some graced the cover.

Following the end of Charles Belden and Frances Phelps’ marriage in 1940, Belden moved on, while Frances stayed, eventually repurchasing several pieces of the ranch that had been sold off. She restored the ranch to approximately 110,000 acres. In 1999, Greg Luce, along with Drs. Lenox and Fran Baker, purchased the ranch for an undisclosed amount. This partnership endured until 2016 when the ownership was divided.

By: Montana Newsroom staff