The sale of New Mexico’s LE Ranch by D.K. Boyd to Stefan Soloviev takes top honors as the largest single transaction involving the Land Report 100 in 2023. The acquisition of the 106,000-acre legacy cattle ranch in Southeastern New Mexico moved Soloviev up from No. 26 to No. 21 on this year’s Land Report 100 with 535,000 acres. Thanks to his ownership of the historic Frying Pan Ranch, Boyd remained on the Land Report 100 at No. 100 with 155,872 acres.
Colorado Pacific Rio Grande Railroad
The Soloviev Group also closed on the purchase of the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad, which was acquired out of bankruptcy. The historic 150-mile line, which was renamed the Colorado Pacific Rio Grande Railroad, dates back to the 1870s. It joins the Colorado Pacific Railroad as Soloviev’s second short-line railroad in the Centennial State. While the original purpose of the rail line was to tap newly discovered silver and gold mines in the San Juan Mountains, the San Luis Valley now produces a different kind of gold: It’s the second-largest potato-producing territory in America.
The rich farmland in the valley also provides barley to the Molson Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado. All of the barley is shipped by rail on the Colorado Pacific Rio Grande Railroad. Potato and timber traffic on the railroad had shifted to highway trucking during the bankruptcy of the railroad’s previous owner, Iowa Pacific Holdings. Efforts are underway to restore the viability of rail shipping as a competitive option.
Grain-Shuttle Loading Facility Filled to Capacity
The Soloviev Group has completed construction of a grain-shuttle loading facility near Sheridan Lake, Colorado. The facility, which is located adjacent to his Colorado Pacific Railroad, is capable of loading 100-car unit trains and is the only location in the dryland farm country of Eastern Colorado to offer unit train availability with dual access to Union Pacific and BNSF railroads as long-haul carriers. Now, Eastern Colorado farmers can obtain more competitive freight rates to Gulf of Mexico or Pacific Northwest ports by using this facility. The loading facility has upright-concrete storage capacity of 3 million bushels and groundpile storage capacity totaling 1.8 million bushels. This year’s milo harvest was exceptional; area farmers brought so much grain to the new elevator that they filled it and the groundpile pad to capacity. Multiple-unit train shipments carried the grain to the Texas Gulf Coast for export.
Originally published in The Land Report Winter 2023.