After doing the walk in Stratford we moved on to Dalhart. We will do the walk there tomorrow so we have an afternoon to fill. We went looking for the Empty Saddle sculpture. The Empty Saddle was listed as being on HWY 87. It was placed there in 1940 at the request of the wife of an XIT ranch hand, to recognize the contribution of the XIT cowboys to the history of the region. However, due to pending road construction the sculpture has been removed. We talked to several local people about it and it seems the sculpture had been vandalized and it was being repaired. Once repaired they would find a new location for it away from the highway widening project.
We next visited the XIT Museum and learned a lot of stuff I didn’t know. Construction of the Texas State Capitol building was funded by the sale of public lands. In one of the largest barter transactions of recorded history, the builders of the capitol (John and Charles Farwell), known as the Capitol Syndicate, were paid with more than three-million acres of public land in the Panhandle region of Texas; this tract later became the largest cattle ranch in the world, the XIT Ranch.
The XIT Ranch was owned by the syndicate which had mostly British investors. However, timing was bad for the XIT, as cattle prices crashed in 1886 and 1887. By the fall of 1888, the ranch was unable to sell its cattle and make a profit. The cattle were constantly plagued by rustlers and predators, especially wolves, leading to further losses for the syndicate. In 1901, the syndicate began selling off the land to pay its investors as the bonds became due. By 1905, most of the land was subdivided, with large tracts being sold to other cattlemen and small amounts of land being sold to farmers. The last parcel of land was sold in 1963.