$720,000,000 | 510,527.00 ACRES | SOLD
Bernard Uechtritz of Briggs-Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty in Dallas, and Sam Middleton, of Chas. S. Middleton & Son in Lubbock are honored to announce the exclusive offering of the historic W.T. Waggoner Estate Ranch. The W.T. Waggoner Ranch is now officially, for the first time ever in its history, offered for sale on the international marketplace.
Dan Waggoner, who was born in Tennessee in 1828, moved to Texas with his family in the mid-1840s. This was a time when much of Texas was open range and unexplored. Dan took advantage of this great opportunity. At an early age, Dan started building what would become a ranching empire and founded the Waggoner Ranch in 1849. This iconic ranch property has been owned and operated by Waggoner heirs for approximately 165 years. A unified decision has now been made by the shareholders to sell this legendary ranch.
Now available for sale on the open market, the Waggoner Ranch represents a singular opportunity so rare, it only comes along every 165 years or so.
Texas became the 28th state on December 29, 1845, so the Waggoner Ranch is nearly as old as Texas itself. In fact, when this ranch was first established, Abe Lincoln was in Congress, California was petitioning to join the U.S. as a free state, and neighboring Oklahoma was Indian Territory.
Jim Jennings, in a 2005 article in The Quarter Horse Journal, states, “By 1868, the Waggoner outfit had grown considerably, but help was still short. Dan sent Tom (his son), who was only 16 years old at the time, to Kansas City with a herd of 5,000 steers. To make the trip, Dan gave Tom $12, a group of drovers, and 50 saddle horses, all of which had sores on their backs from heavy use. In later years, W.T. (Tom) Waggoner was heard to say, ‘There I was with more than 5,000 big, wild steers, 50 sore-backed horses, $12 and 16 years of my life.”
In a 1956 article in The Quarter Horse Journal, Franklin Reynolds notes, “It was possibly Tom Waggoner’s experiences with those sorry horses that caused him to resolve to always have good ones. Even when he was a young lad of 14, W.T. had said, ‘I want to run the most cattle, breed the best horses and work harder than anyone.’ When he was 17, his dad made him a full partner. By the time he was 27, Tom had full reins of the Waggoner cattle empire.”
W.T. (Tom) Waggoner had a good eye for quality horse flesh and developed a herd of broodmares to produce working ranch geldings for his cowboys. Quality horses are always the pride of a true rancher, and this original set of broodmares became a huge influence in the development of the Quarter Horse breed. Because of Tom’s great influence on the horse industry, he became a founding member of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).
W.T.’s granddaughter, Electra Waggoner Biggs was nationally known as a sculptress, and with her national notoriety, General Motors named their most luxurious Buick model the “Electra” and Lockheed Aircraft named a plane in her honor.
As the large ranches of Texas, such as the Waggoner, 6666, JA, Slaughter, King Ranch and others, were established, fenced and began to operate, these legendary holdings were, at times, confronted with the problems of Indian raids and cattle rustlers. In 1877, Burk Burnett (6666 Ranch), Col. C.C. Slaughter (Slaughter Ranches), Jim Loving (JA Ranch) and Dan and W.T. Waggoner met in Graham, Texas, and formed what today is known as the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), which is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Waggoner Ranch Reversed D Brand is burned on the right hip of calves, and dates back to June 11, 1849. This historic brand has been used in one form or another since that date, making it one of the very oldest brands in Texas. Originally, Dan Waggoner burned the Reversed 3D’s into the right hip, thigh or rib of his cattle; however, as the price of hides increased, it made economic sense to only use one Reversed D in order to save more of the hide. The Reversed 3D’s is still used as a symbol representing the historic Waggoner Ranch.
Today, Waggoner descendants still reside at the ranch in two main compounds: Albert B. Wharton, III lives at the Zacaweista (Indian term for “good grass”) Headquarters and Helen Biggs Willingham and her husband Gene live at the Santa Rosa Headquarters.
The ranch is reported to be the largest contiguous ranching operation of its kind under one fence in Texas, and one of the largest in the United States. This is a diverse operation consisting of cattle, horses, farming, oil, recreational lakes and wildlife. It may be hard to truly comprehend the sheer vastness of the Waggoner Ranch. In total, the ranch spans nearly 800 square miles. This sprawling property is approximately three-fourths the size of Rhode Island.
Stretching across six North Texas counties, the Waggoner Ranch is considered to be extremely well located. The ranch is approximately 175 miles northwest of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex area. Vernon, the county seat of Wilbarger County, is located approximately 12 miles due north of the ranch. Vernon Regional Airport has a 5,100 foot long runway. Seymour, the county seat of Baylor County, is several miles south of the ranch, and has a runway that is 4,300 feet long. Wichita Falls, the county seat of Wichita County, is approximately 20 miles east of the eastern boundary of the ranch. The Municipal Airport at Wichita Falls is served by American Eagle, and the runway is 13,100 feet long.
All together, as one may imagine, with this many contiguous acres, there is an immense variety of land types on the Waggoner. The terrain varies from fairly level to gently rolling, sloping and hilly, but there are areas of rougher breaks and scenic, very eroded, red clay badland
Approximately 30,000 acres are in cultivation. A portion of this acreage is seeded to very productive Coastal Bermuda. The majority of the cultivated land is farmed on a dryland basis, but three circle pivot systems are used to irrigate a small portion of the farmland.
The nearly 30,000 acres of farmland is generally farmed in wheat for grazing, but Coastal Bermuda fields and haygrazer fields are baled and used to feed cattle and also to supply quality hay for the large horse operation. Many thousands of additional acres of native pasture are suitable for cultivation, if desired. The major block of this farmland, which is located on the northwest side of the ranch, contains approximately 14,000 acres. This huge block of farmland is crossfenced into large manageable fields which are suitable for grazing thousands of head of wheat pasture cattle. Numerous smaller cultivated fields are scattered throughout the ranch.
The majority of the ranch is in native pasture, supporting a mixed variety of palatable native grasses. Mesquite is the major invader in this part of Texas. Over the years, a substantial amount of brush work has been done, and the mesquite canopy ranges from nearly extinct to moderate over portions of the ranch.
Other areas show substantial regrowth, and those areas of the ranch with a dense canopy of mesquite offer exceptional protection for wildlife. In the lower draws and creek bottoms, hackberry and soapberry trees are common. Salt cedar is found along creek and river courses, and cedar is moderate to dense in the rougher, eroded areas of the ranch. The Waggoner Ranch has been very well managed over time, and considering the recent four-year drought, the worst in recorded history, the ranch supports an overall good turf of native grasses.
The ranch is fenced and crossfenced, with an estimated several thousand miles of ranch roads and ranch fencing. The property is divided into approximately 16 camp or division units. Each camp is equipped with a manager’s house, outbuildings and pens. Each camp manager is responsible for the operation of his specific unit, but all of the managers and cowboys work together during spring branding and shipping. These camps range in size from just over 20,000 acres to nearly 40,000 acres each. Two of the camp divisions, the Zacaweista and the Santa Rosa, are very highly improved. Shareholders of the ranch reside at these two divisions.
Historically, the Waggoner Ranch has been operated as a cow/calf ranching unit, with stocker cattle used for seasonal grazing on wheat fields. Depending upon weather and moisture conditions, the ranch has been operated with 11,000 – 14,000 mother cows, plus calves, bulls and replacements; however, due to the recent drought, and in order to protect the ranch, current stocking rates have been reduced to around 7,000 mother cows/calves, plus replacements and bulls.
Numerous large, functional and well designed sets of shipping and working pens are scattered throughout the ranch. Most sets of pens are capable of handling several thousand head of cattle at one time. Some of the larger main shipping pens are equipped with hydraulic chutes and scales. All pens are very well maintained. The main set of shipping pens are located along the highway at the Zacaweista Headquarters Division.
Horses have always been big business at the Waggoner Ranch. In The American Quarter Horse Journal, Jim Jennings writes, “The Waggoner contribution to the Quarter Horse industry has long been recognized. Horses like Waggoner’s Rainy Day, Midnight, One Eyed Waggoner, Yellow Wolf, Yellow Jacket, Pretty Boy, Pretty Buck, Snipper W, Pep Up, Jesse James and ‘of course’ Poco Bueno still appear in the pedigrees of many great horses today. Some of these were bred strictly for ranch work, and others for the show arena, but they all had one thing in common, they were cow horses.”
Poco Bueno was foaled in 1944 and was purchased by E. Paul Waggoner in 1945. This legendary horse was named the Grand Champion Stallion at Denver’s National Western Stock Show, the Fort Worth Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show, the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, and the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City. He was the first quarter horse ever to be insured for $100,000. Poco Bueno died in 1969 and was buried in a standing position in front of the main ranch entrance. A granite marker, weighing four tons, notes his grave site. The W.T. Waggoner Ranch is
the five-time winner of the Texas Ranch Roundup and a recipient of the American Quarter Horse Association’s “Best of the Remuda Award.”
For the past 15 years, champions at both the National Reining Association and the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity have had Waggoner bloodlines in their pedigree. Poco Bueno sired 36 AQHA Champions, and many of his offspring have excelled in all the different disciplines of modern day horse events. Today, the ranch boasts 7 stallions and over 90 broodmares containing bloodlines of Poco Bueno, High Brow Cat, Peppy San Badger, Top Sail Cody, Smart Chic Olena, and Wimpy’s Little Step.
The horse operation, known as the Whiteface Division, is a state-of-the-art training/breeding facility located in the northeastern portion of the Waggoner Ranch. The operation can breed outside mares as well as ship cooled or frozen semen. The facility is equipped to do embryo transfers and has both indoor and outdoor arenas, two barns, and over 30 stalls
The Waggoner Ranch fully supports the AQHA initiative to implement the Ranchers Heritage Breeders Program and the AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse Program with current staff serving as a member of two AQHA Committees.
Employees of the Waggoner Ranch horse operation concentrate on raising horses for working ranch purposes and strive to create athletic and trainable horses that are 15-hands tall with outstanding conformation. Currently, Waggoner Ranch offspring are excelling in multiple competitive associations, including AQHA, Stock Horse of Texas, NRHA, NRCHA and NCHA.
The current inventory of studs, mares, geldings and colts is approximately 474 head. A complete list of this inventory can be made available. To sum up the great legacy of the Waggoner Horse Program, it has produced three AQHA Hall of Fame Members (one Waggoner heir and two Waggoner horses): E. Paul Waggoner, Poco Bueno and Poco Lena; it is the number one All-Time Leading Breeder of NCHA Hall of Fame Members, Poco Lena, Poco Mona, Poco Stampede and Snipper W; it is the number three All-Time Breeder of AQHA Champions; and it is the Breeder of All-Time Leading Sires, Poco Pine, Poco Tivio, Poco Dell and Poco Bob.
Two large, privately-owned lakes are located on the Waggoner Ranch. These lakes were built by the Corps of Engineers as a major source of municipal and irrigation use water for Wichita Falls, area towns and nearby farming communities. The Waggoner Ranch owns all of the land surrounding and under these lakes, but the water itself is used for off-site municipal water purposes. Waggoner Ranch livestock have access to water at both lakes. When full, Lake Kemp covers an area of over 16,540 surface acres and Lake Diversion covers approximately 3,420 surface acres. Both lakes offer good fishing, boating, and water skiing, and the Waggoner Ranch leases out approximately 500 privately-owned housing sites surrounding these two lakes. Besides receiving revenue from these house lot leases, the ranch charges a daily use fee for boating and fishing on these lakes and also controls concession rights.
In addition to Lake Kemp and Lake Diversion, the ranch boasts several other large private lakes, some of which, such as Santa Rosa Lake, are reserved for the exclusive use of the families. Santa Rosa Lake covers approximately 1,400 surface acres when full. There are several other large ponds, as well as hundreds of livestock ponds scattered throughout the property. The major drainages through the ranch are Beaver Creek, which starts on the west side of the ranch and runs through the entirety of the northern portion of the property, and the North Wichita and the South Wichita Rivers, which converge in the southwest portion of the ranch and meander through the entire south side of the property. Beaver Creek feeds Santa Rosa Lake, and the Wichita River feeds Lake Kemp and Lake Diversion. These live creeks and their tributaries provide a desirable source of livestock water throughout the property. The ranch has perfected water right permits to pump approximately 3,893 acre feet of water annually, which is used to irrigate farmland and water the grounds around major headquarter improvements. Three pivot sprinkler systems are used to distribute irrigation water to three large fields on the ranch.
Historically, potable drinking water has been an issue on the Waggoner Ranch, and for that matter, on many other ranches in this area of North Texas. Most other ranches in this general area also rely on creek water and earthen ponds. Some area ranches have rural water systems available, but still principally rely on creeks and ponds as their major water source. The main headquarters at the Waggoner Ranch has municipal-quality water from Vernon. This treated water is used for human consumption to serve the substantial headquarter improvements. A municipal waterline from nearby Seymour serves some of the homes located at Lake Kemp. Currently, the ranch has a water well lease on a nearby offsite well, which furnishes livestock water through an extensive waterline network to the large block of farmland located on the northwest side of the ranch, and also to the main ranch headquarters. Several small on-site water wells are also located in this large block of farmland.
According to a 2005 article in The Western Horseman Magazine, “But another event in 1902 had a lasting impact on the Waggoner Ranch. While drilling for water, W.T. (Waggoner) hit oil instead. Disgusted, he continued drilling for water. Oil was a nuisance, and any good cattleman knew the value of water. But by the 1920s, with the advent of the automobile, W.T.’s attitude about oil had changed. The Waggoner Ranch got into oil in a big way, and today oil wells still methodically pump as cattle graze around them.”
Today, it is estimated there are over 1,000 producing oil wells on the Waggoner Ranch, with the W.T. Waggoner Estate operating approximately 150 of these wells and 40 independent operators operating the balance. Some of the wells discovered in the 1920s are still in operation. Approximately 41.67% of the mineral rights with a pro-rata portion of the executive leasing rights are expected to convey with the sale.
In over 165 years of the Waggoner family ownership, commercial hunting has never been allowed on this expansive ranch. It is doubtful there is any other contiguous area of this magnitude in Texas which has had no commercial hunting pressure since the land was first settled. This rare phenomenon
has created a haven for deer, turkey, quail, dove, waterfowl and feral hogs. Some whitetail deer on the Waggoner Ranch are estimated to be of Boone and Crockett quality. Some say these deer may have never heard a rifle shot. The wooded river and creek courses offer exceptional cover and desirable habitat for native game. Numerous food plots are located adjacent to these protected creek bottom areas, and these food plots serve as a magnet for wildlife. The Waggoner Ranch can be characterized as a potential sportsman’s paradise.
As previously noted, this massive holding spans six North Texas counties. Consequently, climate data can vary over such a large area of the state. Texas Almanac Rainfall Records show the lowest annual rainfall for this six county area is in Foard and Knox Counties, at 24 inches and 26 inches per year, respectively. The greatest annual precipitation occurs to the east, in Archer and Wichita Counties, at just over 29 inches per year annually. Nearby Vernon, which serves as the famed headquarters for the ranch operations office complex, receives an average of 28 inches per year.
The W.T. Waggoner Estate Ranch and related assets are now, for the first time ever, being offered for sale at a guideline listed price of $725,000,000. This well-renowned offering includes the 510,527 contiguous acres, together with all permanent improvements, approximately 41.67% of the mineral estate, all water rights, and all wind generation royalty rights. Additionally, all livestock (cattle and horses), an extremely substantial inventory of rolling stock, farm equipment, pickups, trucks, etc., and considerable other personal property are included in this offering. The W.T. Waggoner Estate office building in downtown Vernon, and most importantly, the exclusive right and use of the iconic Waggoner Ranch name, historic brand, and related rights are expected to convey within the sale.
The substantial structural improvements, thousands of miles of fences and roads, hundreds of earthen pond dam sites, rolling stock, waterlines, natural gas and oilfield lines, oil field equipment, the Waggoner office building, the included livestock (horses and cattle) and the entire operation are offered as a turn-key sale on an as-is, where-is basis. This is a robust and versatile multi-faceted operation like none other available on the market today. The many improvements and related assets mentioned above combine to offer the purchaser an extremely attractive depreciation schedule.
The history and the legend surrounding the Waggoner Ranch are as big as the ground it covers. Without question, this legacy ranch represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance for an investor with vision and love of the land the rare opportunity to take this legendary offering to the next level. It may be many years before a similar ranch of this magnitude becomes available, if ever. The sale of the iconic Waggoner Ranch, while marking the end of one era, creates for a new owner the opportunity to begin another. This is your chance to purchase the W.T. Waggoner Ranch with all of its history and be a part of its future unbridled potential.