The Lazy S Ranch, one of the last major ranches to be established in Texas, came into being at a time when most of the other great ranches were disappearing. Founded in 1898 by Dallas banker and rancher Colonel Christopher Columbus Slaughter, the Lazy S grew to comprise nearly 250,000 acres of the western High Plains in Cochran and Hockley counties, much of which lay in a single contiguous pasture of more than 180,000 acres.
Even with careful investment and management, C. C. Slaughter faced many challenges putting together an extensive ranch amid the development of the farmers’ frontier on the high plains. Within a decade, he crafted the Lazy S to become a showplace for well-bred cattle, effective range management, and efficient utilization of limited water resources. He created a working ranch that would serve as a long-lasting legacy for his wife and nine children, to remain “undivided and indivisible.” But shortly after his death in 1919, the family drained its resources, drove it into debt, then divided the land ten ways. In the 1930s, good fortune returned to some of the Slaughter heirs with the discovery of oil on the family lands.
Though the Lazy S Ranch was soon forgotten, the breakup of the ranch spurred a new era for the western Llano Estacado and led to the establishment of a county, growth of four new towns, and a railroad across the heart of the ranch, fostered for the most part by the land development projects of Slaughter’s descendants. Here, David J. Murrah covers the entire, fascinating history in The Rise and Fall of the Lazy S Ranch.
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Published by Texas A&M University Press