Thumbnail History of the XIT Ranch

The XIT Ranch in the 1880s was the largest range in the world under fence and it all laid in the Texas Panhandle. It's three million acres sprawled from the old Yellow House headquarters, near what is now Lubbock, Texas, northward to the Oklahoma Panhandle, in an irregular strip that was roughly 30 miles wide.

It covered portions of ten counties which apparently helped perpetuate the misbelief that the brand -XIT- stands for "Ten In Texas". The brand, in fact, was originated to thwart rustlers.

XIT history is a triangle of superlatives. The XIT range was the largest in the world under fence. Texas, the biggest state in the union, used the sale to pay for it's red granite capitol, still the largest state capitol on the North American Continent. The Austin structure, after more than a century, still houses the Lone Star state government and as capitols go, is second in size only to the one at Washington, D.C. In one respect it is even biggerthan the U.S. Capitol, it's dome stands seven feet higher.

The long lasso of time must drop back to 1875. The Lone Star state government was getting cramped in it's old capitol and the Texas constitutional convention set aside 3,000,000 Panhandle acres with which to get a new capitol.

Action dragged until fire destroyed the old capitol, November 9, 1881. Gov. Oran M. Roberts called a special legislative session. It struck a bargain with Charles B. and John V. Farwell, brothers of Chicago, under which they agreed to build a $3,000,000.00 capitol and accept the 3,000,000 Panhandle acres in payment.

In 1885 the first cattle, long of leg and long of horn, rolled onto the XIT. Thousands of hooves drummed up the trail and the longhorns were pushed on to the No. 1 division headquarters at Buffalo Springs, 32 miles north of Dalhart, now easily available by modern highway. Once the ranch ran 150,000 head of cattle.

The corrals, foreman's house and bunkhouse had just been built at the Springs and still stand, the oldest structures in Dallam County.

To learn more about the XIT Museum, please visit our museum history page.