The Wild West is filled with stories of outlaws seeking fame, fortune and escape. In this anxious Covid-era, escape will do.
There’s no time like the present. We’re currently living in a world of remote loners looking to get out of Dodge. Escape to a simpler time and place sounds pretty good these days. There’s such a place way out West.
California’s La Panza Ranch, once a hideout for infamous outlaw Jesse James, is on the market for $38 million. It looks and feels like too nice for such a ruthless gunslinger. The 14,750-acre property is still a working cattle and olive grove ranch in San Luis Obispo County, California. So you get a lot of beef with a side of olive oil.
“Estate ranches like La Panza are rare in the market,” says listing agent Lance Dore of California Outdoor Properties. “At 14,750 acres, it’s one of the largest contiguous tracts of lands in the western United States, particularly in California.”
In the 1860s, La Panza Ranch was owned by Drury James, uncle of outlaw brothers Jesse and Frank James. The brothers visited (and even worked) the ranch in 1868 after one of their notorious bank robberies left Jesse injured with bullet wounds.
Here, legend says Jesse went underground—recovering and bathing in sulfur springs at Uncle Drury’s Hot Springs Hotel in Paso Robles, a town Drury James is credited with founding.
“The brothers’ stay was without incident and they left a year later,” says Dore. A framed revolver in the Hacienda pays tribute to the James legacy here.
Like the James clan, La Panza’s new owner must be ready to work—hard. La Panza is a residential and business opportunity to buy a turnkey ranch with an expansive family compound, an active cattle and agriculture operation, an olive oil mill, farm equipment and inventory, and the La Panza Olive Oil brand.
The Santa Margarita property includes 280 acres of high-density olive groves (202,865 trees), alfalfa plantings, pastures, hay and 3,300 acres of grazable land.
“It’s a working ranch and agricultural operation that produces income and it has its own (olive oil) brand,” says Dore. “The ‘tree-to-bottle’ olive oil business is very unique with a state-of-the-art olive oil mill. It’s a true turnkey operation with staff, including the ranch manager and assistant, available to stay on.”
Recent improvements include: the main 5,500-square-foot hacienda (with detached garage); 4,400-square-foot bunk house; 2,000-square-foot guest house; 1,800-square-foot foreman’s office; 1,600-square-foot ranch office; 12,500-square-foot hay barns; and the 12,500-square-foot olive mill.
In this time of uncertainty, La Panza is a welcome private retreat that reaches back deep into Old California’s rich history. The bucolic landscape is secure and self-contained, amid abundant wildlife. It’s outfitted with modern amenities and utilities (electricity, phone, cellular service) and throwback water sources—50 wells, natural springs, creeks and three reservoirs.
“The ranch is diversified with agriculture and cattle operations, with an abundance of water and good soils,” says Dore. “It also has natural beauty with elk, dear, bear and a variety of native birds.”
La Panza Ranch has its own helipad and space for a private air strip. The property is located near Highway 58, San Luis Obispo, Morrow Bay, and just two hours from municipal airports.
“I’ve had calls from farmers, cattle ranchers, mining interests, family offices, high-net-worth individuals, Fortune 1000 corporations, and foreign investors,” says Dore. “La Panza offers a great opportunity for a multitude of buyers, some of whom may be looking for space and a slower pace of life or to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.”
Out West, La Panza Ranch is definitely the place to lay low and hide—with or without bullet wounds.