Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Now That's A Lot Of Bull...!

Actually, I guess I should say "a lot of BEEF!"

Even by Texas standards, this was a big place! Problem is, it was owned by a bunch of folks back east. So often in the old West, this was the case! However, this story does have a happy ending for many folks wanting to start a small family spread.

Nov 2, 1912:
XIT Ranch sells its last head of cattle

On this day, the XIT Ranch of Texas, once among the largest ranches in the world, sells its last head of cattle.

Despite the popular image of the cattle rancher as an independent and self-reliant pioneer, big-city capitalists and stockholders owned many of the most important 19th century ranches. The Chicago capitalists behind the XIT—also known as the Capitol Syndicate Ranch—were trying to get rich by catering to the growing American passion for fresh western beef. They received the land in exchange for financing a state capitol building in Texas.

Given the aridity of the region, the Chicago capitalists determined that ranching would be the only profitable use for their new land. They quickly built up a massive but highly efficient cattle-raising operation that stretched over parts of nine Texas counties. At its peak, the XIT had more than 160,000 head of cattle, employed 150 cowboys, and encompassed nearly 3 million acres of the Texas panhandle—an unusually large tract of land even by western standards.

As land prices increased in Texas and cattle prices fell, the owners of the XIT realized they could make more money by selling their land. By 1912, the XIT abandoned ranching altogether with the sale of its last herd of cattle. The corporate managers gradually sold the remainder of their property to farmers and smaller ranchers throughout the first half of the 20th century. By 1950, the once-mighty XIT had control of only 20,000 acres.

Just imagine, only having control of 20,000 acres! Might be enough for most of us to scrape by on, don't you think? At least, by breaking the main ranch up into smaller parcels, many dreams of starting family spreads could be fulfilled!

Coffee on the patio this morning...before the cold front comes in tonight!


JoJo said...

Great Post, I went to a Ranch last year that started out almost the same way. It just kept growning. Until the newer generations had no interest in it anymore. And it finally went down, It was left to BML who now are struggling to keep it up. They have lots of fund raisers to try and retore the building and maybe turn it into a profit of its own keeping.

HermitJim said...

Hey JoJo...
I guess that sometimes trying to keep up with all that land isn't as easy as it looks!

I can't imagine 150 cowboys trying to take care of that many acres!

Makes our little 1 acre spreads look pretty small, doesn't it!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

Ben in Texas said...

Well, searching for the largest Ranch in Texas, The KING is tops, BUT it is not all under one fence. So guess the XIT holds the crown of "largest under one fence" huh? But don't forget the 6666

HermitJim said...

Hey Ben...
When I was a kid, my Dad once took us an a drive on the King Ranch . Of course, it was an area where the public was allowed.

I remember seeing the signs warning of the fences being patrolled by armed riders. I was impressed!

These places are so big it just boggles the mind!

Thanks, buddy, for coming by today!