Dumbbell ranch operation in Nebraska Sandhills poised for next chapter

By: - April 25, 2023 4:30 am

The Dumbbell Ranch spans about 15,500 acres, mostly in Nebraska’s Cherry County, known as the nation’s “top cow county.” It is for sale, which means it will have owners outside the Anderson family for first time in over a century. (Courtesy of Hall and Hall)

OMAHA — After less than a month on the market, the Nebraska Sandhills ranch with the quirky name and storied past is poised to be purchased by a Colorado family.

The owners of the Dumbbell Ranch in the Hyannis area have a preliminary agreement with the potential buyer. And a member of the family that has had an ownership interest in the 15,500-acre property for more than a century said she is happy.

Anne Anderson Bennett of the Red Oak, Iowa area, said her family had hoped to pass on the Dumbbell legacy to a family, as opposed to a corporation or big entity. If all goes as hoped, she said, the Anderson Family trust this summer will turn the reins over to the Colorado ranching family, which had been wanting to relocate its operation to the Sandhills.

The asking price for the Dumbbell was $16.7 million, and Bennett said she was pleased with the price offered. She declined to provide too many details until the deal is officially sealed.

“It is bittersweet,” she said, as the Dumbbell has been a part of her family since 1913. “But I am so excited that a family is going to be able to continue the tradition. I think they will be a fabulous asset for the community.”

Bennett said she hadn’t met the family yet, but knew that there had been multiple offers on the ranch operation in the few weeks since marketing began.

The Dumbbell attracted attention from local and outside interests, in large part because of its size and storied past. Valentine area broker Mark Johnson of Hall and Hall, which marketed the ranch, said he was a bit taken aback by the widespread response. 

“It really was the right time,” Bennett told the Nebraska Examiner in early April about putting the Dumbbell operation up for sale. At 57, she is getting married again. Her only brother has a separate career in Colorado.

Younger generations of Andersons, namely Bennett’s daughters, who are in their 20s, had more pressing interests than continuing the ranch ties.

On Monday, Bennett was busy helping to write high school graduation announcements for her stepson and was working on plans for her nuptials.

“I’m relieved,” she said. “I’m very grateful for the interest.”

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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.