The importance of the ranches to the Kendrick family cannot be denied. It was the prominence that Kendrick gained through his affiliation with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association that allowed him to attain his influential political position in Wyoming. It was the very knowledge that the ranches existed that made it possible for Manville to endure his time away at prep school, Rosa-Maye her time at finishing school, and John his time in Washington. Finally, it was the money raised through the sale of the ranches' cattle that made the construction of Trail End possible.
In 1889, Kendrick - as manager of the Converse Cattle Company - purchased the Grinnell Range on Hanging Woman creek in southeastern Montana. Kendrick acquired additional acres through a variety of means. Some were purchased outright from neighbors, for example, while others were obtained through the purchase of soldiers' homestead allotments. He also obtained land through his employees; they would file for homestead acres, Kendrick would pay for the improvements, and then buy the land from them.
THE MAIN RANCHES
When the OW outfit arrived on Hanging Woman in 1889, Kendrick found very little in the way of facilities for either his cowboys or his cattle. He quickly began an expansion program and by late 1891 had a ranch house, bunkhouse, ice house, horse barn, blacksmith shop and open-shed cow barn, plus circular corrals, outhouses, wells and gardens. As the "home ranch," the OW was where John brought his young bride in 1891 and where they raised their children.
The second of the three main ranches was the LX Bar, located along Powder River northeast of Sheridan in neighboring Campbell County. After purchasing the ranch in 1902, John Kendrick waited until 1910 to hire master stonemason Oscar Husman to construct new buildings on the river-side ranch.
The third main ranch was the K, the center of the winter range area and principal headquarters for the Kendrick Cattle Company's extensive irrigating operations. Kendrick purchased land containing the K Ranch acreage in 1911 and continued for many years after to acquire adjacent holdings.
Two other ranches, the Ceded Strip (near Hardin, Montana) and the E Bar U (northeast of Sheridan on Badger Creek), featured Husman-built stone edifices. The E Bar U was where the company raised award-winning Belgian draft horses for use on the other ranches.
THE OTHER RANCHES
Eventually, the various Kendrick ranches encompassed over 210,000 acres in two Wyoming counties (Sheridan and Campbell) and four more in Montana (Powder River, Custer, Big Horn and Rosebud). In addition to those listed above, the properties included the Forks, the 76, Hanging Woman, the 77 and Cabin Creek.
Unlike the aforementioned ranches, these properties did not have elaborate buildings. Their structures were built of log in a purely utilitarian style. Consisting of small cabins, barns and assorted corrals, these were the camps where cowboys stayed for months at a time, repairing fences and working with the cattle.
It was for purely practical purposes that Kendrick had so many buildings scattered throughout his holdings. In the days before automobiles and consistently good roads, it took up to a full day to ride from the OW to the LX Bar. Even though each ranch had a full-time manager, Senator Kendrick, Manville Kendrick and Clarence Wulfjen frequently traveled from ranch to ranch, checking up on operations. There had to be adequate housing not only for the permanent ranch staff, but for overnight guests, itinerant workers and, of course, the horses and cattle as well.
THE END OF THE EMPIRE
In late 1988, almost one hundred years after John Kendrick first brought his thirsty herds to the waters of Hanging Woman, family members made the decision to discontinue the operation. Livestock and equipment were disposed of at public auction. The Kendrick Cattle Company land, divided into six properties, was sold for an estimated eight million dollars. At the time of the sale, the KCC employed twenty to thirty people and ran about four thousand head of cattle on over 209,000 acres. The company was also involved with mineral production, having several oil wells situated on KCC land.
1878 LX Bar Ranch founded by Stanton-Howard Livestock Company
1880 Manville & Peck form Converse Cattle Company
1888 Kendrick hired to run Converse Cattle Company
1889 Kendrick moves Converse herds to Hanging Woman Creek
1891 Kendrick completes main house at OW Ranch
1898 Kendrick completes purchase of Converse Cattle Company
1902 Kendrick purchases LX Bar property on Powder River
1910 Construction begins on LX Bar stone buildings
1911 Kendrick purchases K Ranch acreage
1913 Work finishes on LX Bar buildings
1917 Kendrick ranches support 15,000 head of cattle
1923 Kendrick forms Kendrick Cattle Company with his wife and children as partners
1925 Husman Brothers start stone buildings at K Ranch
1937 Manville Kendrick takes over management of Kendrick Cattle Company
1988 Kendrick ranches divided into six parcels and sold for $8,000,000
2016 LX Bar Ranch donated to the State of Wyoming for use as a historic site