Rural Retreat: The Montague County Ranch
completed in June 2011, is a working ranch. One of the owners competes in dressage, an equestrian sport defined by the International Equestrian Federation as “the highest expression of horse training.” This ranch home emphasizes water conservation and Texas’ historic dependence on this precious resource. Pictured below is the open land before the ranch was completed, a view of the ranch from the road, ranch home’s front view, a geometric front landscaped garden ‘behind the front wall,’ a grand multi-purpose room with exposed beams open to kitchen, staging area and pantry for kitchen, several bedrooms and baths, in a regional Texas vernacular with Lueder’s limestone, metal roof, and vintage windmill that can be seen for miles.
Montague County is in north central Texas on the Oklahoma border, 100 miles northwest of Dallas. Most of Montague County lies in the region known as the western Cross Timbers, in which the dominantly light colored, sandy, and loamy soils support a post oak savannah. A belt of woodland fifteen miles wide, known as the Upper Cross Timbers, runs north and south through the county and contains post oak interspersed with pecan, walnut, and blackjack trees. Three watersheds drain Montague County. The Red River drains the northern part of the county and has the largest drainage area of the three watersheds. The Denton-Elm Fork of the Trinity River drains the east-central portion of the county, and the West Fork of the Trinity River, which rises in Young County, drains the southern part. Between 41 and 50 percent of the land is considered prime farmland. Mineral resources produced by the county are petroleum and natural gas.
In 1858, Montague County had less than 1,000 residents who immigrated from the upper South, primarily Tennessee but also from Kentucky and Arkansas. A substantial number arrived from north of the Mason-Dixon line, mostly farmers from Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. As a result of this immigration pattern, the county did not reproduce the slaveholding plantation society that characterized the state. The abundance of grasslands had attracted cattlemen as early as the late 1860s. In the fall of 1867 Montague County was the last Texas county crossed by the Chisholm Trail before it entered Indian Territory. For the next twenty-five years county residents concentrated their efforts on cattle-raising, producing forage areas for livestock and food rather than cultivating a cash crop.
What attracted the railroads to the county was cattle, but in the 1890s the cattle herds that crossed Montague County disappeared, replaced by fields of cotton. The county also produced natural gas. The decade of the 1930s also saw Montague County return to its original economic venture, cattle ranching. Oil was discovered in the county in 1919, and by the 1930s petroleum and natural gas production was making a significant contribution to the local economy. Oil, natural gas, truck farming, and a return to cattle ranching enabled the county to increase its population during the depression years.
The home is sited on the ranch where Oklahoma can be seen in the distance and where stunning sunsets and lightning storms seem to meet the horizon. A gallery of photographs of the ranch may be seen below.