A couple hours northwest of Fort Worth, the Waggoner Ranch is up for sale. The legendary, half-million-acre ranch near Wichita Falls has a history almost as big as its $725 million price tag. KERA’s Justin Martin talks with Eric O’Keefe of the Land Report about the ranch’s outsized legacy.
Interview Highlights: Eric O'Keefe
... On how the Waggoner Ranch started: "It goes back all the way to pre Civil War Texas and that was when there was so much wide open space west of where Texas was really settled. If you had some moxie and you had a lot of luck and Dan Waggoner's case you had a son named Tom, you were able to go out and piece together a herd and that herd got larger and you began to get more land - slight hiatus during the civil war when obviously you didn't have much if any at protection on the frontier. That land grab continued and by the 1870s the Waggoner ranch was hundreds of thousand of acres and growing."
... On President Theodore Roosevelt visiting the ranch: "The Waggoners and some of their neighbors were able to host him out there and take him on some hunts, put him on horseback. He had lived on a ranch and ran a ranch in the Dakotas in the 1880s as a younger man before he got into politics and so he always was drawn to it. It wasn't a photo opportunity for him, it was a really part of the American experience that he really celebrated."
... On what stands out about the ranch: "The point that is all under one fence is rare. There are many properties, there are many land owning families and entities that have multiple holdings but not under one fence like this. Half a million acres, we're talking about two to three times the size of New York City. Think about that, most listeners when they think about a big piece of property they're going to think of a park like Central Park; this is eight hundred central parks, it's sixteen divisions, it's anywhere from eight to ten to twelve thousand cattle, thirty thousand acres of farming, a thousand man made water tanks. Just the scale reminds those of us like you and I that there are places like the Waggoner out there. It's really mind boggling."
Eric O'Keefe is editor-in-chief for the Land Report