The Story of the XIT Ranch

    Surveyed in 1879 and 1880, the Capital Reservation ran from the northwest corner of Texas south along the Texas-New Mexico border for about 200 miles.

    Located on the Great Plains, the reservation varied in width from twenty-five to thirty miles, much of which was flat and treeless and semi-arid. Only one river, the Canadian, flowed through the area, but many people regarded it as some of the finest grazing land in Texas.

Initially, the Capitol Syndicate hoped to sell the lands earned from building the Capitol for money to keep the project going.

Finding it impossible to sell the land at advantageous prices, the Farwells and their partners in mid 1885 established the XIT Ranch on the 3,000,000 acres they eventually would receive for building the Capitol.

    In order to raise money to develop and operate the XIT Ranch and to complete the Capitol, John V. Farwell went to England and established the Capitol Freehold Land & Investment Company, Ltd. in mid 1885.

    Usually referred to as the "Capitol Company" the joint stock company borrowed money for the ranch and Capitol projects by selling $10,000,000 of debentures or bonds, chiefly to people in Great Britain.

The XIT Ranch never made the enormous profits estimated in 1882, so the Capitol Company could not pay off all the bonds issued when they became due. By the late 1890s, British investors in the firm clamored loudly for the redemption of their bonds.

As a result, the Capitol Company in 1901 began selling off large amounts of land to farmers and ranchers. The ranch operated until 1912 but the last of the XIT lands were not sold by the Farwell heirs until 1963.

    The XIT Ranch ceased operations in 1912 but it remained alive in the memories of hundreds of cowboys who had worked on the legendary ranch. The tales of these cowhands eventually inspired several books and magazine articles. During the mid-1930s, the aging cowboys began holding annual reunions.

    Forty years later, the XIT Museum was established at Dalhart, Texas to keep alive the memory of the biggest thing that ever exsisted in Texas.

Further XIT Ranch History and map