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Visit the Texas Heritage Trail Regions and see where it all happened

Ranching

Kenedy Ranch, Kingsville
Kenedy Ranch, Kingsville

HERE'S THE BEEF

Ranching in Texas has thrived as a major industry for more than three centuries, from the Ojo de Agua and Las Meste–as ranches of pre-statehood colonial Texas to the sprawling King, XIT, and Rocking Chair spreads of our Anglo settlers. Throughout the region, ranchers have seen range conditions, water supplies, cattle breeds, and livelihoods fluctuate dramatically, reflecting the mercurial temperament of both natural and market forces. Cattle may have been king but nature, combined with the vagaries of supply and demand, ruled as emperor.

Weather and economy aside, Texas ranching heritage has given rise to some of the state's most enduring icons, including the cowboy, the longhorn, barbed-wire fencing, and the 10-gallon hat (a term more likely derived from the hatband width of a Mexican galón rather than a reference to the amount of water a hat might hold). It also gave us a diversity of related industries including slaughterhouses, commercial feedlots, meat-packing facilities, organic beef farms, chili cook-offs, and more recipes for preparing jerky than there are for tofu, which means real beef, not it's soy bean alternative, still wears the crown.

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