Western Trips

Western Trips

Monday, May 20, 2013

Matador Texas

Visit the small Texas town of Matador Texas and you're visiting a part of the state which is all about the history of the early Texas ranches.

hotel matador
Hotel Matador
The Matador Ranch and Their Scottish Investors

The Matador Ranch, one of the largest in Texas, was established in 1882. Like many of the old ranches of the west, the Matador Ranch was backed by foreign investors. In the case of the Matador it was a Scottish investor group. The group initially invested about $1.25 million. The purchase included 1.5 million deeded acres and 1 million acres of open range in Motley, Floyd, Dickens, and Cottle counties.

History will tell you that other big Texas ranches such as the XIT and the JA Ranch both were largely financed by investors from England and Scotland.

The Matador Ranch was given a post office in 1886 and for all intents and purposes the Matador Ranch was in charge of the local community which sprang up from it's operations. It wasn't until the end of the 1800's that the community itself separated from direct control of the ranching interests. 

Matador Texas, located in Motely County, was formally incorporated in 1912 and made the county seat.  By this time many of the big ranches, such as the XIT Ranch, were selling off their land to smaller farmers and ranchers. The Matador Ranch however continued in operation until 1951. In 1951, the Matador Ranch, which then controlled about 800,000 acres, was sold to Lazard Freres and Company of London for $18,9 million. After buying the property from the Scots, Lazard Freres sub-divided the land for sale.

matador texas hotel
Hotel Matador courtyard
Visiting Matador Texas

Matador Texas is located about 75 miles northeast of Lubbock and about 120 miles southeast of Amarillo on U.S. Hwy 70.

Hotel Matador

Among the historic sites you'll want to see is the Hotel Matador. The Hotel Matador opened for business in 1915. The beautifully restored hotel is now a unique bed and breakfast inn in downtown Matador. The original structure was built by Roy Carter and his wife, the former Jessie Simpson and was named the Carter Hotel.

Carter built what one would say a luxurious hotel considering the remote area the town was in. The Carter Hotel included fifteen rooms, a dining rooms and even laundry service. On top of that the hotel employed a bell boy and had an ice cream parlor. The hotel changed ownership several times and became known as the Hotel Matador during the 1920's. During it's history before becoming today's B & B the structure was made into apartments and after that a single residence.

motely county texas jail
Old 1891 Motely County Jail
1891 Motely County Jail

Another interesting structure you'll want to see in Matador is the historic 1891 Motely County Jail. This stone structure is over 120 years old and represents the oldest government structure in Motely County Texas still standing.

Motely County Texas also received a courthouse the same time this county jail was erected. The limestone jail structure was built as a two floor facility with living quarters and offices on the first floor and the jail cells on the second. It's said that the second floor also housed a gallows although it reportedly was never used.

Links to two additional Western Trips photo articles you'll enjoy include:

The XIT Ranch

Charles Goodnight Ranch Home

Wild Horses and Cowboys 

The Bluebonnets of Burnet Texas

bob's oil well matador texas
Bob's Oil Well
Bob's Oil Well

Drive just about a mile west of downtown Matador Texas and you'll come to a historic structure named Bob"s Oil Well.

Bob"s Oil Well is located right at the junction of  US 70 and Texas 70. This old service station was opened in 1932 by a World War One veteran named Luther Bedford “Bob” Robertson. Prior to opening his own business Bob worked as a filling station attendant. When you visit the old service station you'll see a large oil derrick built above the structure. Robertson built the derrick to help promote his service station business. The original derrick was built from wood but in 1939 he replaced it with a new steel one.

Ever the promoter, Bob paid truckers to place signs across the country noting how many miles it was to his service station. Today you might still see these type of signs when you travel the Interstates. Over the years Robertson increased his business to include a garage, cafe and grocery store. Luther Bedford “Bob” Robertson passed away in 1947. Robertson's widow tried to continue with the business after his death but the operation closed during the 1950's.

As of this writing there is a restoration project being put together and they are in need of funding. For more information about this and/or to donate write to Marisue Potts, Bob’s Oil Well, PO Box 523, Matador, TX 79244.

matador texas
Downtown Matador Texas
Today's Matador Ranch

The current owners of the Matador Ranch utilize 130,000 acres for cattle raising spread over five counties of Texas. Additionally, there is the Matador Hunting Lodge, located north and west of the former ranch headquarters. Offered are twelve suites each named for a person significant to the history of the Matador Ranch.

Matador Ranch hunting includes hogs, turkey, quail, mule deer and dove. The ranch offers several multi-day hunts. More information on Matador ranch hunting opportunities can be found at www.matadorranch.com.

Matador Texas is one of those small Texas towns off the beaten path but very well worth a visit. Touring Texas you'll find some of the best historic sites off the beaten path. As we mentioned earlier, the town and the area was one of the most active during the early days of Texas cattle ranching and there's a good amount of history to explore there. 

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

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