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3,000,000 Acres And A Mule

July 2024
1min read

THIS PHOTOGRAPH was taken in Hereford, Texas, around 1907, just after the arrival of a “prospectors’ train.” Harlan Hague, of Stockton, California, sent it to us with this explanation: “The Hereford photographer who took the picture was named McGee. My great-aunt, Myrtle Witherspoon, worked for him and developed die photograph. Her fatiier, my great-grandfather, first saw the country around Hereford in the 189Os when he was hauling freight between Fort Worth and Tucumari. He liked what he saw and settled down with his family there in 1898.

“In the early twentieth century,” Hague goes on, “land in the Texas Panhandle became very attractive to Easterners. The attraction was generated by aggressive advertising by businessmen who were marketing the land. ‘Prospectors’ arrived regularly by train after 1906, when the surveying of the land began. Most of the people in this photograph undoubtedly were passengers; one group moves toward the realty office in the center of the picture. Others are townspeople, among them two elegant ladies riding sidesaddle, turned out in their Sunday best simply to meet the train, an important social event in early Hereford.


“Some of the prospectors would have been taken by realtors to Kelso, twenty-five miles northwest of Hereford. Once installed at the Kelso Hotel, built specifically to receive them, they were shown parcels of the three-million-acre XIT ranch, which was being broken up and sold for farmland. ”

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