Touring Texoma: Waggoner Ranch

Thursday night, Darrell Franklin's wrapping his latest "Touring Texoma" series with a spotlight on the nation's largest ranch under one fence.

Waggoner Ranch sprawls out over much of this area between Electra, Vernon and Seymour.

And, the five time Ranch Roundup winner's impact here has been felt for more than 130- years.

Weldon Hawley:  "Well, I started here as a single man and at the very bottom of course."

But, over the past 25- years or so, Weldon Hawley's worked his way up on the Waggoner Ranch, a place he loves very much.

Hawley:  "Oh, it's just wonderful.  There's not any traffic, anything like that.  It's awful quiet.  There's not any hassle, things you run into in a city environment."  "This is the home I live in here."

A home that's seen much of the history and tradition here.

It was actually W.T. Waggoner's father, Dan Waggoner who started this ranch, with solid labor way back in 1849 before moving it to its perminent location in the late 1870's.
Hawley:  "Really, the cowboy life and the style of ranching life hasn't changed hardly any.  It's all hard labor.  Yes sir.  It's just physical labor.  What we do, we ride horses a lot.  And, the way we work the cattle is pretty much the way we always did."  "This is the bunk house.  This is where the single men live."  "Next to it would be our cook shack."

Franklin:  "Now, is this like the old chuck wagon cooking?" 

Hawley:  "Yes, they're very similar.  We still use the chuck wagon a couple of times a year.  But, while we're not out on the west end or far away, Debbie cooks all of our meals here."

Debra Douthit:  "Well, I get up at 3:15.  I'm over here by 3:30.  I have their breakfast ready at 5.  Then, I start lunch at 8.  And, I try to have their lunch ready by 11:30."

And, Debra Douthit makes most everything from scratch, for a very hungry crew.

Douthit: "I do not use instant mashed potatoes.  I make my pies.  You know, it's a lot of steak and gravy and potatoes and beans."   "It's comfort food."   "Comfort food.  Very fattening!"

Todd Thomas:  "On the W.T. Waggoner estate, we've got Lake Kemp.  We've got Lake Diversion down the Wichita River."

Todd Thomas is manager and geologist for Waggoner's oil division.

Started in 1908, it's a very important part of the estate, especially again now with skyrocketing oil prices.

Thomas:  "You know, that's been one of the beneficial things about the Waggoners, we've had multiple resources of natural resources both the cattle and the oil and gas, and the farmland, so it's been, each one of them has carried their load through the years."

Frankilin:  "Besides farming and ranching and all that entails, and the oil business, those at the Waggoner Ranch are extremely proud of their horses.  In fact, just across the road sits a memorial to Poco Bueno, the first quarter horse ever to be insured for 100- thousand dollars.  When Poco died in 1969, he was buried, standing up."

Trace Cribbs:  "When Mr. Waggoner bought that horse, I think he bought him as a yearling.  And you know, he kept him a while and he had a bunch of really good broodmares.  And, somehow the cross on the bloodlines he had with Poco Bueno worked really well."

In fact, Breeding Manager, Trace Cribbs says that same blood line lives on today.

Cribbs:  "He's a really, really pretty moving horse.  He keeps his tail down and his neck's low.  We've actually showed him in competitions.  He's earned the money."  "We're an anomaly.   For one thing we're a true working ranch.  We've been around so long, and you can't purchase history like that."

Thomas:  "It's a family organization.  And, they've been with me the whole time I was raising my family and everything."

Hawley:  "The family, they've held this ranch together, maintained it, and it's been very hard over the years to do so.  And, it's pretty much just like it was.  There hasn't been an acre sold to it."

Which keeps this true working ranch at about the size of Rhode Island.
Here  before its surrounding towns across six counties, the legendary Waggoner Ranch is more than half a million acres of prime Texoma real estate.

The town of Electra was named after W.T. Waggoner's daughter, Electra, who was Electra Waggoner Biggs' aunt, a nationally- known sculptor.

Waggoner Biggs' most famous work is the Will Rogers memorial in Fort Worth.
And, in 1959 she was immortalized when the president of Buick Motors named one of their models after her.

After Biggs death in 2001, her heirs and shareholders filed for liquidation and distribution of the proceeds.

Then, about 7- years ago, a receiver was appointed to break up all assets of the Waggoner Estate worth hundreds of millions.

Attorney Mike Baskerville out of Vernon, took over that position on the 15th of this month.

But so far, Waggoner Ranch remains intact and as it's always been, a hugely important part of Texoma.

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