$17,128,878 | 14,907.64 ACRES | SOLD
Charles S. Middleton and Son is pleased to offer for sale the historic RO Ranch in Donley County, Texas.
This Eastern Texas Panhandle ranch consists of approximately 14,907.64 contiguous acres and is considered to be one of the more scenic and productive ranches in the Texas Panhandle. Prominent features of the ranch include over 5 miles of the Salt Fork of the Red River and over 3 miles of live water in Sadler Creek. Additionally, there are numerous live water spring locations as well as scenic creeks and valleys on the ranch lined with large trees. Mesas and bluffs overlook the river and valleys below, providing panoramic views of the open countryside. Elevations range from 2,400 feet in the lower river and creek bottoms to 2,700 feet in the higher elevations.
The ranch is accessed by paved Farm to Market Road 1260. This FM road boarders the ranch along the southern boundary before turning north, intersecting the ranch for over 3 miles, and essentially dividing it into two ranch divisions. There is an estimated 8,200 acres on the east side of the highway and an estimated 6,700 acres on the west side. The river extends through both divisions of the property and livestock can pass under the river bridge to access both sides of the ranch, if the owner desires.
The headquarter is located south of the river near the highway and was built in a valley with large trees and ponds, creating a park-like setting.
The ranch is characterized as having a good turf of native grasses over the majority of the property. Improved bluestem grass has been planted on the northern Spade Flat country that was previously farm ground. Large areas of the river bottoms are sub-irrigated with palatable river bottom grasses that are readily grazed by livestock.
The RO is located in the Southeastern Texas Panhandle in the Rolling Plains region of Texas. This area of the state is known for ranching, farming along with outstanding hunting and recreation. Average rainfall in this region is approximately 22 inches per year. The ranch is located about 5 miles northeast of Clarendon, the county seat of Donley County. Amarillo is approximately about 60 miles to the northwest. Oklahoma City is 220 miles northeast, and Ft. Worth is 280 miles southeast of the property.
The RO Ranch was established in 1878 by Englishman Alfred Rowe during the era of big ranching acquisitions and expansions in the Texas Panhandle. Arriving with 400 pounds in his pocket and the promise of family backing, Rowe erected a dugout on Glenwood Creek, just above its junction with the Salt Fork of the Red River. Legendary Texas Ranger and ranching pioneer Charles Goodnight helped Rowe choose his first cattle, and as a favor loaned him one of his favored employees, Green McCollum.
Rowe acquired his first land patent in 1882, and by 1900, the RO covered 100,000 acres. Two Texas Panhandle towns had their beginnings within the boundaries of the RO Ranch, McLean in Southern Gray County and Hedley in Donley County. While preparing a return from England to Texas in April of 1912, Rowe booked passage on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic. After the death of Rowe aboard the Titanic, the family soon began selling off portions of the ranch, and in 1917 the remaining 72,000 acres and cattle were purchased by former long-time ranch employee and top hand William Jenks Lewis Sr. for a reported sale price of $595,113.26. The present-day RO Ranch remained in the Lewis family ownership until it was sold in 2014. The RO is now being offered for sale again for only the second time in over 100 years.
The nearby city of Clarendon was established in 1878 by Methodist Minister Henry Lewis Carhart and is rich in ranching history as well. One of the first settlements in the Texas Panhandle along with Mobeetie and Tascosa, Clarendon’s distinction was not allowing saloons, alcohol, and gambling, which was common in the other frontier settlements at the time. Often referred to as “Saint’s Roost” by the local cowboys, the town flourished and grew. A stagecoach line was established between Mobeetie and Tascosa, and in 1898, Clarendon College was founded. Notable residents of Clarendon included Charles Goodnight and western artist Harold Bugbee. The JA Ranch was established in 1876 and is the oldest privately held ranch in the Texas Panhandle. Founded by Goodnight and Cornelia and John Adair, the JA ranch is located just to the southwest of Clarendon.
The Comanche and Kiowa once occupied this region of the Panhandle, and Native American Indian campgrounds have been found along the riverbanks of the RO with artifacts such as pottery, bone awls, matates and flint arrowheads being discovered.
The RO is considered to have water features not often found on ranches in the Texas Panhandle. One of the more prominent features of the ranch is the Salt Fork of the Red River that traverses the property for over 5 and ½ miles. This river enters the ranch about midway up the western side and travels in a southeasterly direction exiting the ranch near the southeastern edge of the property. The river bottom land provides sub-irrigated grazing and desirable protection for cattle during winter months. Sadler Creek is a live water creek that enters the ranch from the north boundary and travels over 3 and ½ miles south before merging with the Salt Fork. Live water springs are found at locations throughout the ranch away from the rivers. Underground water on the ranch is utilized through submersible and solar wells, as well as traditional windmills. There is an irrigation well that was drilled in recent years on the north Spade Flat area of the ranch with a reported yield of over 150 gallons per minute at the time of drilling. This well has not been utilized by the current owner.
The ranch has been operated primarily as a cow-calf operation traditionally rated at a 550-cow carrying capacity. In recent drier years, that number has been reduced to prevent overgrazing and to maintain a healthy grass turf.
With large portions of the river bottom sub-irrigated, grass growth along these bottom lands is maintained in the drier, drought years. These bottom lands are often thought of as drought insurance by the owner. Terrain of the RO provides excellent grazing and good protection for cattle and calving during the winter months with the river, creeks, multiple draws and valleys.
The terrain, cover and water features of the RO make the recreational aspects of the property exceptional. Whitetail deer are found in large numbers over the majority of the ranch, with mule deer found in the North Spade Flat area, Edgell Pasture, and near the headquarters close to the river. The owner estimates an approximate 75-25 mix of whitetail vs. mule deer. Many areas of large trees along the river, creeks and draws are considered to be exceptional for turkey hunting. It is common to see large flocks of turkey in the tree lined river bottoms. Quail are most often found near the river bottom areas as well. The ranch’s water features also attract dove and ducks in good numbers. Coyotes and bobcats are plentiful, and the occasional hogs are observed, but are not found in large numbers. Fishing ponds are located on the ranch stocked with bass and catfish.
The RO is fenced and cross fenced into 14 large pastures with multiple smaller pastures and traps. The majority of fences are rated good to excellent, with many miles of fence having been rebuilt within the last 15 years. Portions of the fencing were built in the last 3 or 4 years.
The headquarters has an older style ranch house with metal roof and separate garage and cellar. An overhead feed storage is behind the house. This location has multiple outbuildings and a good set of steel pipe working and shipping pens with scales.
The northern Spade Flat area contains another good set of steel pipe working and shipping pens, with electricity and water provided. Electricity is also provided to the nearby hunter’s camp and propane is delivered to the site.
In addition to the live water creeks and natural springs, the ranch is considered very well-watered with six solar wells, four submersible wells and four windmills. The owners state that sub-surface groundwater is not difficult to locate on the ranch.
Just to the south of the river, a dugout dwelling was constructed near a natural spring fed pond that sits down along a tree lined draw. A submersible well provides water to the dugout. This structure is in good condition and has a large wood burning fireplace, kitchen, bath with shower, and two sets of bunkbeds.
The log cabin is a rustic dwelling built from salvaged materials from the ranch. It is a one-room cabin, with an indoor and outdoor fireplace. There is no electricity or running water. A swimming and fishing pond is located within steps of the old cabin that is fed by a live water spring that emanates from the nearby hillside. The pond is stocked with channel catfish.
The owner will convey all owned mineral and wind energy rights.
Opportunities to purchase a large, historic live water cattle ranch with the recreational and scenic appeal comparable to the RO are considered rare. The ranch is realistically priced at $1,149 per acre. The owner will consider dividing the property.
For more information and a private showing, contact Clint Robinson at (806) 786-3730.