An historic family ranch and casualty of The Great Depression, Topo Ranch has been resurrected by Alex Kump and Eric Hartnack as a clothing brand driven by the pioneering spirit of their forefathers.
The original Topo Ranch is located between Monterey and San Benito counties in California; those 20,000 acres Were part of the Mexican San Lorenzo land grant. Throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the spread was a cattle ranch, fig tree farm, supplier of wool to the U.S. Cavalry, and even used for Western films by the likes of Gary Cooper. Eventually, the bank foreclosed on it, like so many casualties of the Great Depression.
The “Topo” for which the ranch was named is Spanish slang for that stretch of land’s most populous animal inhabitant. “We gave him wings to symbolize the rise of Topo Ranch once again, and to give flight to our dream of building a clothing brand that reflects the modern California lifestyle,” says Alex.
In 2006, inspired by Topo Ranch’s rich history, Alex and Eric developed a collection of men’s t-shirts and quickly became known for remarkably soft fabrics, vintage-inspired graphics, and exceptional attention to detail. Additional items include tanks, shorts, hoodies, swim trunks and sweat pants. All product is exclusively designed by the Topo Ranch team and is inspired by the sun, surf and the “Beach meets West” attitude of Venice, California.
Topo Ranch retails at its own flagship store in Venice, California and at premium retailers including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and numerous independent boutiques nationwide. Additionally, customers can purchase online at www.toporanch.com.
Stake Your Claim,
In southern Monterey County, ten miles east of King City, was the Topo. It was purchased in 1860 by Patrick Breen and his second son Edward. Both of them survived the Donner Party tragedy in the Sierras in 1846. Patrick died in 1868 and 24.000 acres of the finest cattle country in California became Edward’s. There was a water spring in every canyon and as one of the old-timers said, “I saw a thousand head of cattle watering off that one Cinco Canoes Spring all at once.”
Edward died in 1890 leaving the Topo to his widow and three sons of his second wife. After one of the sons, James Edwin Breen (J.E.B), finished college he returned to the ranch and with the help of a foreman and his younger brother Harry, they managed the Topo. The southern end was sold off by his other brother Bill in 1913. Mother and the other two sons remained in the business until her passing in 1929.
The drought and low cattle prices during the twenties took their toll. The Bank of America forced the Breen Brothers into sheep in the late twenties and eventually took the ranch in 1932. J.E.B. ran it for the Bank for years. Then Swanson Meat Packing of Stockton, California was given an option to buy. J.E.B. was in partnership with them, however, after five years they were unable to pick up the option and it was sold to Montgomery Investment Co. of Simi, California. J.E.B. continued to manage the ranch for MIC until his retirement in 1947.
Many movies were made on the Topo in the twenties. Gary Cooper made his first film there — “The Winning of Barbara Worth.” Hoot Gibson and Bill Desmond were some of the others.
During World War II J.E.B. lost some good men to the service. He ran the Topo almost single-handedly with one other man and whoever else would volunteer, including friends, relations, and neighbors. He trained the cattle to follow the pickup for cottonseed cake which he spread from the running board out of the sack.
To be continued...
Eric Hartnack, Founder, Owner & CEO
Corey Malanga Hartnack, Owner