Cattle ranching has been a vital North Coast industry since the late 19th century when Gold Rush miners ventured west and found treasure of a different kind in the rolling fields of grass perfect for grazing livestock.

From Marin to Sonoma counties, the coast has played host to a number of long-established ranching families.

At Point Reyes National Seashore, the mix of 19th century redwood and 20th century aluminum barns serve as a visual reminder of the longevity of an agricultural industry that has provided profit and sustenance for local families for over a century.

The future of cattle ranching in Point Reyes is in question. The National Park Service is reviewing management options that maintain the status quo for the 24 families engaged in beef and dairy cattle ranching or drastically reduce and possibly eliminate ranching entirely.

Whatever the decision may be the historic value of cattle ranching throughout Sonoma and Marin counties is undeniable.

Click through our gallery of cattle ranching along the North Coast from the 19th century to the 21st century.