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The Old JA Ranch

n 1876, veteran Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight entered Palo Duro Canyon by way of an old Comanche Indian trail near here, to establish the first ranch in this area.

In 1877, Goodnight in partnership with Englishman John Adair moved farther down the canyon to lay out headquarters of the JA Ranch. This pioneer venture became one of the greatest cattle operations in the world, taking in more than a million acres of land and grazing 101,023 head of cattle.

Goodnight had became acquainted with the Palo Duro as a scout and guide for Texas Rangers during the Civil War. He knew that the canyon, fenced in by the overhanging caprock, was an ideal spot for a ranch: It furnished water and shelter in the winter and the adjacent plains provided ideal grazing in the summer.

Upper division of this ranch (the park area) was reserved for the purebred, or JJ herd. The vast lower end of the JA was ranged by longhorns — gradually being improved by better blood.

In 1887 the Goodnight-Adair partnership was ended. Adair retained the JA which, in the hands of his heirs, is still one of the great ranches of Texas.
Submitted by Dan Brekke

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