In 1917 the Woods Bros were already in the farm business. They had a 5,600-acre farm near Tekamah, for example. But in that year the Woods Bros delivered a keen feat of diversification when they purchased the Watson Ranch near Kearney, Nebraska.
Better known as the 1733 Ranch (view a photo at Stuhr Museum site), (it was thought to be situated 1733 miles equidistant to San Francisco and Boston,) Woods Bros paid about half a million dollars for the ranch. The 4,200-acre showplace was a spot of local pride and one of the great “country places” in the whole state.
According to a Lincoln State Journal article from June 1917, “Everything connected with the ranch is pitched on a huge scale.” When Woods Bros took over ownership of the ranch it featured:
- More than one thousand acres under irrigation.
- Hundreds of head of cattle and pigs.
- 100 head of horses and mules to work the land and livestock.
- 42 men who live on the property employed as ranch hands.
- Between 7,000 and 8,000 pedigreed poultry with 48 incubators.
- Hundreds of fowls of other kinds, both tame and wild.
- A kennel of Airedale dogs.
- 3,000 cherry and apple trees, and a 15-acre cedar grove (for decoration, windbreak, and lumber.)
The property’s manor house had 40 rooms and there were 15 tenant houses located about the ranch. Dairy herds were fed from what was said to be the world’s largest silo, and the farm animals were housed in a four-story barn that spanned 320 x 80 feet (over 102,000 sq. ft.). Scattered on the ranch were three lakes stocked with bass.
As one might expect, the ranch was much coveted and very well respected because of its grand scope, its “precision as a large business enterprise,” and its “tremendous attractiveness.” It was considered possible that the Union Pacific might even want to take over the place because it was perfect as “advertisement [of] Nebraska territory by the use of money and intelligence in operating on a large scale.”
In true Woods Bros fashion, their famous ranch, as with their other endeavors, was bold, monumental, and full of grand vision.