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The history of Waggoner Ranch

The Waggoner Ranch is almost as old as Texas. Located near Vernon, Texas, the ranch spans 510,572 acres making it the largest ranch under one fence in the U.S.

The historic Waggoner Ranch photographed by Jeremy Enlow

Dan Waggoner established the ranch in 1849, first near Decatur, TX before moving to his final home. At the end of the 19th century, Dan Waggoner’s land holdings spanned nearly 1,000,000 acres. He named the ranch Dan Waggoner & Son when his son W.T. was just an infant. It would later become the W.T. Waggoner Ranch.

Waggoner Cowboys Daly Welch, middle, and Lane Sharp, right, go into the pasture to gather the remuda, switching out their saddle horses for new mounts. They rope the ones they want to take back to the headquarters pen, confining them in a rope pen. For their reward, the horses get oats in their trough.

Waggoner ranch cowboys ride through the Remuda

The Waggoner Ranch was family owned until February of this year, when it was bought by Stan Kroenke. When Dan Waggoner started, he had 6 horses and 242 Longhorns. His son, W.T., was a true cattleman who was greatly disappointed when repeated attempts to dig water wells turned up oil.

Bobby Daniel, Waggoner cowboy from 1965-2016, herds cattle.

Bobby Daniel, Waggoner cowboy from 1965-2016, herds cattle.

The Waggoner has been the host of many notable guests over the years, including Theodore Roosevelt and Will Rogers.

Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch documents the 26 cow camp cowboys working the Waggoner in 2015 before the ranch sold.

“The Waggoner Ranch is one of the last ranches left in the United States that has so many cowboys employed by the ranch. The cowboys, some whom have worked on the ranch for over 40 years, don’t have computers or four wheelers. They cowboy the way it was done 50-75 years ago. I wanted to document this way of life for younger generations before it disappears.” -Jeremy Enlow

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