Previously: A journey through Oligarch Valley (Prologue)
In Oligarch Valley, you can drive for an hour at 80 mph along the side of a single oligarch-family farm. And yet, these giant farms are nearly invisible to the general public. That’s maybe the most shocking thing of all: these billionaire plantation owners have somehow been able to blend into the woodwork, conning Americans by masquerading as small family farmers and selfless stewards of the land. They’ve gamed us so well that we not only support their land wealth with our hard-earned money, but are grateful for the privilege to do so.
Tejon Ranch is a mixed farm, ranching and hunting preserve that sits atop the Tehachapi Mountains, which separate the Central Valley from greater Southern California’s metropolitan sprawl. The ranch is about 30 miles north of Six Flags Magic Mountain. Full of swerving big rigs, steep grades and traffic jams, it marks the beginning of the long tortuous drive through the Central Valley. From I-5—at a speed of 80 mph—it doesn’t look like much: some sunbaked golden hills, grazing cattle and a couple of gas stations along the way.
But Tejon Ranch is unlike any other place in California. Even among the vast landholdings of Oligarch Valley’s billionaire farmers, it stands out. It’s called a “ranch,” but it’s more like a duchy or fiefdom…