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Texas Plains Trail Region

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

Matador


Matador Ranch
Matador Ranch, photo by Carol Campbell

NO BULLFIGHT BUT PLENTY OF CATTLE

The small community of Matador, established in the 19th century and seat of Motley County, is well prepared to last another hundred years. Matador’s character – gracious, historical and well-worn – appears after a cursory drive through town where the Motley County Historical Museum (housed in the former Traweek Hospital building). The Motley County Jail, the historic Hotel Matador, and 1930’s gas station/tourist attraction Bob’s Oil Well all share billing with the modern age.

The restored Hotel Matador is a particular standout, providing visitors with a surprising bit of luxury for a weekend getaway. This renovated charmer, now an eight-room bed and breakfast with modern conveniences including private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TV’s, serves guests a gourmet breakfast every morning, fortifying them for a full day of sightseeing.

Matador is named for the nearby historic Matador Ranch, once property of the Matador Cattle Company. The cattle company started in 1878 with an abandoned dugout and 8,000 “jinglebob” cattle, the term used for a peculiar marking technique in which a steer’s ear is slashed so that the halves dangle. By the time company investors sold the outfit to a Scotland firm in 1882, the Matador represented 100,000 acres of land and 40,000 cattle. Today, the Matador Ranch and the El Matador Hunting Lodge offer world-class hunting opportunities while raising livestock (including horses and famed Akaushi beef) and promoting its natural wildlife resources. The ranch’s compelling heritage includes a visit by Quanah Parker, an event documented as part of the official Quanah Parker Trail. Matador serves as stop along the Trail, a heritage program designed to follow the path of Chief Quanah Parker across Texas.

Bob's Oil Well, an oil derrick sitting on the top of a cook shack, was built in 1934 by Bob Robertson. Located at the crossroads of US Highway 70 and Texas Highway 70, the oil well could be seen for miles and was well known to travelers. Closed in 1964, forty years later this historic roadside attraction was renovated through more than 900 hours of citizen volunteerism and private donations.


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