Cattle Ranges of the Southwest Page: 8 of 32
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in person, and there was nothing to prevent cowmen from appropriating
the range, arbitrarily laying off their range boundaries, and
claiming them under their so-called "range rights." The first cowman
who located his ranch headquarters in one of the counties named
claimed that his "range rights" included everything in sight. When
cowman number two moved in, the two divided up the range and each
one kept on his side of the division line agreed on between them. As
other cowmen appeared, the range was still further divided until it
was fully occupied. Moreover, it is due the stockmen referred to, to
state that between them absolute good faith was maintained, each one
recognizing the "range rights" of the others and not interfering with
them. Really there was no need for one to crowd another. There was
plenty and to spare for all, and they all recognized that, with "free
grass" for all, the road to wealth was easy and certain.
Coming of the railroad and speculation.-About 1882, when the final
survey for the Texas and Pacific Railroad was being made through
that country, owners of the lands under consideration began to drop
in with a view to looking up their properties. Then it was that the
cowmen began first to realize that they could not depend nmuch longer
on "free grass." The result was a natural, indeed an inevitable, one.
Every man was seized with the desire to make the most that was possible
out of his opportunities while they lasted. He reasoned that there
was more grass than his own cows could possibly eat. There was plenty
of stock water for five times as many cows as were now on the range.
There was no rent to pay, and not much in the way of taxes, and while
these conditions lasted every stockman thought it well to avail himself
of them. Therefore all bought cows to the full extent of their credit on
a rising market and at high rates of interest. Not only were the cowmen
of this section influenced by such ideas, but similar conditions
obtained in other sections of the State, and indeed throughout the
great stock regions of the West, Southwest, and Northwest. Nearly
every stockman was in the market for more cows. Naturally this
demand resulted in a constant upward tendency in the matter of prices
until about 1883, when millions of cattle changed hands at from $20 to
$25 per head, calves counted, range delivery.
The fever of speculation that first took possession of the cowmen
spread throughout the United States, and even to Europe, until there
were many more buyers than sellers. Old men, middle-aged men, and
young men, representing every sphere of life, were eager to give up
enterprises with which they were familiar to go into the "cow business."
Every State in the United States was represented in the single
State of Texas; and in every county in the State recognized as stock
country, Englishmen, Scotchmen, and indeed men from most of the
countries of Europe, were rushing to get a foothold, a "range right,"
and herds of cows to make them rich in a hurry, eating "free grass."
In the meantime wool was going up in price, alld so were sheep, and
Here’s what’s next.
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