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Texas Plains Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Boys Ranch


Photo by Rick Vanderpool

Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch overlooks an ancient Indian crossing of the Canadian River and remains a working ranch and home to at-risk boys and girls. From 1876 to 1887, it was Tascosa, one of the Old West’s most colorful towns. A cattle trail ran between Dodge City, Kansas and Tascosa, which became the seat of Oldham County in 1880. Tascosa grew into a raucous trade center for cattlemen such as Charles Goodnight, lawmen like Bat Masterson and outlaws including Billy the Kid. Gunfights occasionally sent cowboys--good and bad--to an early grave.

By 1887 the advent of barbed wire shut down trail drives, and the train bypassed Tascosa. In 1915 it became a ghost town when the county seat moved to Vega.

The 1884 county courthouse survives as the home of the Julian Bivins Museum. Displays feature artifacts from Native Americans, trailhands and pioneers. Guided tours begin at the Boys Ranch headquarters where a film recounts the good deeds of wrestler turned businessman, Cal Farley, who founded Boys Town in 1939. Since 1945 the ranch has hosted a popular rodeo. A stop by Boot Hill Cemetery shows tombstone inscriptions of cowboys who died with their boots on.


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