XIT Ranch was different from the traditional Western ranch of the time. The land
was the same, the cattle and cowboys were alike and much of the ranch work was
similar to the regular old-time ranch work. However, a close study shows it was
in the organizational structure and financial planning where the largest differences
For example, where the traditional ranch had a boss or foreman
the XIT had a president, board of directors, financial officers, bookkeeper, general
manager, range bosses, wagon bosses, straw-bosses as well as cowboys, cooks and
wranglers. At its peak the XIT employed 150 men.
A traditional ranch owner
was usually a weathered, bowlegged cowboy-type who had grown up with cattle and
horses. Most of the XIT owners and officers lived in Chicago and knew little about
cattle except that steaks tasted mighty good on a platter.
XIT was established at a time when traditional ranches preferred the old open-range
concept with huge pastures and little fencing. In contrast, the XIT divided the
vast 3,050,000 acres into seven divisions under the supervision of range and wagon
bosses and used 6,000 miles of barbed
wire in fencing the outside boundaries and divisions. The drilling of windmills
where needed made the division of the dry ranges possible. |
of the time were poorly organized, usually depending on borrowed money for operation.
Many were rich in good times and broke during the bad. The XIT brought proven
business methods, planning know-how and exact bookkeeping, all of which were backed
up by millions of dollars available for operating expenses.
The poor overworked
average cowboy was expected to do all the work on most ranches. The XIT hired
fencing crews, experienced windmill repairmen, well-drilling companies, carpenters
for building and independent freighters to keep the ranch warehouses well-stocked
Where the typical rancher resisted the oncoming tide of
settlers making every effort to keep them from settling permanently, the XIT laid
long-range plans to sell all land suitable for farming whenever the price per
acre reached the proper level for profit.
The XIT "Poor Farm" as the cowboys
called it, located some seven miles southwest of Channing,
was actually a ranch-operated experimental farm using good equipment, experienced
farmers and the latest in Department of Agriculture advice. Their records became
proof to the new settlers that the land was good farmland and was capable of raising
any number of dry-land grains along with the regular mix of livestock. These early
experiments set the stage for today's "bread-basket-of-the-world" farming expertise
famous throughout the Great Plains.
A little pencil work reveals the original
price of $1 per acre price, providing $3 million to build the Texas State Capitol,
eventually sold for $5 to $20 dollars or more per acre. These profits, plus the
profit from operating the successful enterprise for many years, provided the owners
with millions of dollars profit for their work and expertise.
the entire XIT experience might be considered the end of the old traditional Western
ranch and the beginning of the new-era ranching. Yes, there is no doubt the XIT
Ranch was different.
|Book Hotels Here