DECKER, MONTANA — One of the largest and oldest ranches in the area is up for sale. The OW Ranch, measuring about 50,000 acres in southern Montana, is on the market with an asking price of $25 million.
Powers Land Brokerage LLC is co-listing the land with Leadbetter Webster Land Company, Inc. Charlie Powers, owner of Powers Land Brokerage, said the ranch spands about 16 miles east to west and 12 miles north to south. Powers is overseeing the sale with Jim Webster from Leadbetter Webster.
Jim Guercio, noted music producer and former manager for the Beach Boys, has owned the land since 1989. Guercio initially purchased about 6,000 acres and increased his land holdings over time.
Webster and Powers said Guercio studied the Kendrick Ranch properties and wanted to own similar areas of land as John B. Kendrick, who started the OW Ranch in 1887 and eventually served as the ninth governor of Wyoming and U.S senator from Wyoming.
“When [Guercio] first bought it, it was too small to run enough cows,” Powers said. “It takes time and somebody with the fortitude to get it done, which he did.”
Powers and Webster said the 73-year-old Guercio is selling the ranch because the family doesn’t utilize the land as much as it once did. Guercio has considered selling the land since at least 2014, when it was put up for sale with the same asking price.
The Guercio family lives in the ranch headquarters on the northwestern part of the property for several months out of the year, but its main residence is located near Boulder, Colorado, where Guercio produced records for artists like Chicago, Elton John, Billy Joel and Rod Stewart at his Caribou Ranch recording studio. Guercio refurbished most of the buildings at the OW Ranch headquarters after purchasing the land. He spent at least $500,000 on the restoration projects, according to Powers and Webster. Most of those buildings still stand more than a century after initial construction and are part of the state historic register.
Guercio has also modernized the ranch by adding a water treatment facility, pipelines and solar wells — of which there are about 20 — to water the grass and keep the livestock hydrated.
Solar wells replaced windmills as a more efficient energy source.
“It is a huge new technology for the cattle business,” Powers said. “Montana gets a lot of sun, so that’s what’s powering all the stockwater.”
Powers said the ranch is the largest, most valuable property he has brokered in his career. Webster said it is one of the most valuable pieces of land he has worked on as well.
The OW Ranch has continuously run since Kendrick started it more than a century ago. It is a cow-calf operation with about 1,250 mother cows.
It employs five to seven full-time workers at different points of the year.
Breeding occurs in summer, calving in spring. Elk and antelope wander the land as well.
Powers believes the land will sell within the next year. He also hopes the eventual owner enjoys the land’s history.
“It’d be really neat if it was somebody that appreciates the nostalgia and the romance of the history of the ranch,” Powers said. “Life keeps changing but, I don’t know, I think the fun stuff is when you look back in time and see what it was like (and) see a place that’s still run just like it was back then.”
Kendrick came to Wyoming from Texas in the late 1870s. He lived and worked in Lusk for several years before eventually buying ranch land for the Converse Cattle Company in 1887. The initial land is still part of the OW Ranch.
Cynde Georgen, superintendent at the Trail End State Historic Site, said the ranch has been named OW for more than a century because that was the Converse Cattle Company’s brand logo.
Georgen said the name origin isn’t exactly clear. OW either stands for Oscar Wade — the man who originally lived on the land — Old Woman or both. Kendrick raised his family for 18 years in the house that still stands at ranch headquarters. The family moved into the mansion known as Trail End in Sheridan in 1913 but spent summers on the OW Ranch.
“That was home,” Georgen said of the ranch. “The family had a very, very close connection to that place.”
Whoever buys the ranch will continue a legacy started more than 130 years ago by Kendrick.