Travel Treasures Close to Home: Texas Longhorn Ranch in Ohio

by Tom Reed
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Story filed June 15, 2011

Itís like a scene from the Old West -- Texas Longhorn cattle grazing on the gently rolling hills of an almost 5,000 acre ranch. But itís not in Texas. Itís in southeastern Ohio. And best of all, itís a place you can visit because it offers tours to the public.

The Dickinson Cattle Company ranch, near Barnesville, is a real working ranch with up to 1,600 head of cattle, mostly Texas Longhorns, but also some African Watusi and BueLingos. The 75-minute tours are conducted daily during the months of June, July, and August. Visitors board a bus that takes them into the pastures for up-close-and-personal encounters with the cattle.

Darol Dickinson began raising cattle in Colorado back in 1967, but in the mid 1990s he began looking for a site that offered better climate conditions and easy Interstate access. He found it in Belmont County, Ohio, just off I-70. "This is great cattle country," he says. "Thereís a lot of grass, a lot of rainfall." Dickinson still runs the operation along with other family members including his wife and two adult sons.

Cattle graze on the ranchís 61 pastures year-around; hay is used for feed only when snow covers the ground. Dickinson says grass-fed beef is very popular right now, because it's high in protein and low in carbohydrates and cholesterol.

When you visit the ranch, donít expect to see cowboys on horseback. Dickinsonís "cowboys" use modern all-terrain vehicles. Theyíre more likely to wear baseball caps than cowboy hats, although Darol usually wears one as he rides the range in his SUV. Despite the modern touches, the experience is an authentic one; youíre seeing how a real ranch operates in the 21st century.

The tours run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The rates are $10 for adults, $4 for children 4-12, free for kids under 4. Dickinson says the fees cover the cost of operating the tours, and adds that there is a residual spinoff. "When people are here, they sometimes go into our store and buy meat products. We have all natural longhorn beef jerky, summer sausage, and steaks of all kinds." With that in mind, you might want to bring a cooler with you. You can also buy treats to toss to the cattle from the tour bus. Perhaps thatís one of the reasons the cattle donít seem to mind the intrusion into their pastures.

The Longhorn ranch is less than three hours from Cleveland. Go south on I-77, then east on I-70 to Exit 202, and then south on SR 800 for about a mile and watch for the signs. Some computer map programs direct you to Exit 198, but thatís wrong, according to the ranch's Longhorn Tour website at The website also has complete information about the tours, and a map. You might also want to confirm tour arrangements by calling (740) 758-5050 before heading out.

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