Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut

In the vast Wild Horse Desert of South Texas lies one of the most storied ranches in the Lone Star State, yet one of the most isolated and remote. The 150,000-acre San Antonio Viejo, carved out of borderland thornscrub and amassed from Spanish land-grant tracts over more than a century, embodies an extraordinary ecosystem and a rich human history known by few.

The modern era of San Antonio Viejo began in December 1914 when Tom Timmons East Sr. purchased 23,795 acres of South Texas ranchland and, two months later, married Alice Gertrudis Kleberg of the powerful King Ranch. Today, the family holdings operate as the East Foundation, a working cattle ranch and research preserve. The East family’s legacy provides a window onto both an older way of life and the newest approaches to range and wildlife management.

Photographer Wyman Meinzer explored the ranch for three years, in all seasons and weathers, to reveal its story in images from sweeping panoramas, to astonishing wildlife shots, to illuminating moments in the lives of working cowboys and their herds. Henry Chappell likewise weaves the ranch’s complex story with a historian’s attention to detail, a novelist’s flair, and an outdoorsman’s keen understanding of the natural world.

Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut: The San Antonio Viejo Ranch of Texas stands as a tribute to all those whose stories have intertwined in a singular place of loyalty and legend.

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From the book

“The earliest Tejano settlers called this place San Antonio — distinct from San Antonio de Bexar, some two hundred miles north. By the 1850s, chroniclers called the community San Antonio Viejo — Old San Antonio — while surveyors of the period sometimes referred to las Norias de San Antonio, the San Antonio Wells. Sometime after 1915 those who’d left the community and those who’d simply known it began calling it Rancho Viejo.”

. . .

[T]his remains, big, wooly country, literally thrumming with life. Isolated for generations, San Antonio Viejo may be as close to primeval brasada as remains today.”