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By: Robert Janis

Wildcatter Ranch

Texas Ranch Resort Uses ATVs to Take Guests to Historic Sites

Wildcatter Ranch

There is something about Texas. You don’t have to live there to understand that. The state’s folklore and history seems larger than life. There are the state’s own struggle for independence from Mexico, issues with Native American tribes and outlaws, the Civil War, and the development of the cattle business which led to the creation of trails used by ranchers to take cattle to slaughter. Also, then there is the coming of big oil and the development of oil drilling in the Lone Star state.

All of this and more occurred on sites nearby, adjacent to and part of the Wildcatter Ranch and Resort. Located in Young County Texas, the resort was opened in 2005. Guests are taken to areas in which events unique to Texas occurred. This includes the Goodnight-Loving Trail developed by Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving to take their cattle to market. The exploits of these men are chronicled in the four-part television miniseries called Lonesome Dove. Another historic site guests are taken to is the site of the Elm Creek Raid. The Indian raid took place on October 13, 1864. A three-part television miniseries shown in 1994 and the John Wayne movie Searchers chronicled this event. Also, nearby is Fort Belknap, a frontier fort built to protect the early settlers of the region from the Comanches and Kiowa Indians. The fort was used to accommodate troops which monitored two Indian reservations established in 1854. One of the reservations, called the Brazos River Indian Reservation, was adjacent to the western end of Wildcatter Ranch and Resort. About 2000 Native Americans who were part of a large number of tribes lived there. The tribes included the Anadarko, Caddo, Teaucana, Waco, Cherokee, Choctaw, Delaware Nation, Shawnees and Tonkawa. With the presence of a white and Native American population so close together it was inevitable that there were massacres that occurred on both sides. The last confrontation between whites and Indians occurred in July 1874.

One of the most sensational outlaw incidents to occur in the area was associated with the Marlow Brothers in 1888-1890. At least four books were published and a movie called The Sons of Katie Elder chronicle this event.

In addition, the first gas test wells were drilled in the area in 1872. The first oil well was drilled there in 1904.  Due to the oil boom that was the result, a number of towns were started. These included Oil City, Ming Bend, Harding, Lake City, Pleasant Valley and Herron City, which were located across the river from the Wildcatter Ranch and Resort. These oil towns sprang up and then disappeared within two or three years.

ATV guided tours visit these sites. The machines used are multi-passenger Kawasaki Mules. Each seats about seven people including three children. The tour is $35 per person.

The Wildcatter Ranch and Resort includes a plethora of onsite activities. These include:

  • Horseback Riding
  • Bull Riding
  • A Six-Point Sporting Clay Range
  • Pool and Hot Tub
  • Hiking
  • Canoeing
  • Tank Fishing
  • Pasture Golf
  • Frisbee Golf
  • Mountain Biking
  • Bird Watching
  • Fitness Course
  • Fitness Center
  • Star Gazing
  • Wagon Rides
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Horseshoes and Washers
  • Western Movies
  • A Library
  • Sand Volleyball
  • Fossil Hunting
  • Tetherball
  • Badminton
  • Basketball

Also, there are plenty of activities in and nearby Graham, Texas which is just a 10-minute drive from the ranch. Sites of interest include museums, a drive in, movie theatre and regional theatre, Young County Arena, a multipurpose center which holds such events as rodeos, circuses, tractor pulls, concerts, and more; Fort Belknap; Graham Country Club Golf Course; Possum Kingdom State Park; boat, watercraft and canoe rentals; Frontier, where you can relive the old west with state-of-the-art technology and more.

Accommodations at the ranch include a bed and breakfast that is open three times a year. Dates of availability and rates are September-March for $149 - $329; April-May for $159-$329 and June-August for $169-$349.

There are 16 luxury guest cabin suites and hotel rooms that include wired and wireless Internet access; satellite television with DVD and VCR players; fireplace; coffee service, microwave and refrigerator; Front and back porches with rocking chairs; access to a fitness center, pool and hot tub, spa and more.

There is also the Homestead. Built as the original ranch house almost 100 years ago, the Homestead is a cottage that features two bedrooms, one bath, a full kitchen, open living and dining space. Located in the heart of the ranch, the Homestead has a view of cowboys working the cattle and the barn.

The O.T.’s cabin is a guesthouse that features two bedrooms each with its own king-size bed and private bathroom; a large living and dining area; a full kitchen and large rock fireplace.

Hotel room rates start at $129 on week days and increases to $229 on the weekends. Cabin suite rates start at $169 during the week and increase to $329 on the weekends.

Finally, the ranch includes the Wildcatter Steakhouse and the Blowout Saloon. The restaurant sits on a bluff that assures a great view of the surrounding area. The saloon serves drinks and offers live entertainment. The wines served at the saloon have received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence four years in a row.

For more information visit the Wildcatter Ranch and Resort website:

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