The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 53, July 1949 - April, 1950 Page: 331
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Panhandle land designated for that purpose. The group included
a wholesale drygoods merchant, a congressman, and a contractor.
None of them had had any experience in ranching or farming.
Building the capitol was no easy task. Red granite that no one
could give away a few years earlier became amazingly expensive
overnight. The cornerstone, weighing sixteen thousand pounds
in the rough, required fifteen yokes of oxen to move it from the
quarry to the nearest town, fifteen miles away. In the end the
company had to build a short rail line for hauling stone. When
the scarcity of masons led to the bringing of granite experts from
Scotland, the builders were haled into a federal court for import-
ing contract labor.
Before the new capitol was completed, some of the Grangers
who, a few years earlier, had boasted of outslicking the Chica-
goans, began to complain that the new structure had cost too
much. But this was hardly true. The building's cost made the
XIT land come to $1.07 an acre, or about double the price the
state had been offered for the choicest part. As late as 1883,
Charles Goodnight bought 17o,ooo acres of West Texas land at
twenty cents an acre.
The story of the XIT, bought sight-unseen, is one of Growth
of the Soil on a mightier scale. The ranch owners, while green
at stock raising and farming, were smart enough to learn and to
hire competent managers. In the end they taught a thing or two
to those who at first had snickered at their dude hats and city
ways. They brought fences and windmills and improved breeds
of cattle. They made their ranges unhealthful for rustlers. In
time they proved, the Panhandle suitable for farming and at-
tracted new settlers.
Two decades ago J. Evetts Haley wrote an authorized history
of the XIT. His book answered about all the questions anyone
would ask. But it ran into difficulties and soon was withdrawn
from circulation. Today not many of those who would like to
have it can afford $75 for a second-hand copy. A new work on
this subject was overdue.
This need has been met by an Amarillo newspaperman and
magazine writer. Lewis Nordyke, fortunately situated for this
task, talked with many old cowpunchers who had worked for the
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 53, July 1949 - April, 1950, periodical, 1950; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101126/m1/407/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.