Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Last Chance ..out on the range

"Home home on the range...where the deer and the antelope play...."
I have a business meeting in Colorado Springs before I head up to Spearfish, South Dakota for the fall SD OU meeting tomorrow, cause like Colorado Springs is on the way to the Black Hills...

I cruised my way west

Ogallala, NE
I stopped in Ogallala Nebraska to get a car charger and to photograph the UFO of those "must sees"

The alien is looking at me.....

You can't make some of this stuff up.

I like a morning drive in the Sandhills of Nebraska.  44 greater prairie chickens....but my camera discharged so I got no pictures until the Walmart in Ogallala helped me out.

Last Chance, Colorado
I decided to check up on my property out in Northeastern Colorado and see what, if anything is going on.  My lease expires this year and I have to find a new person to make a deal.  There never seems to be anything going on in Washington County and nothing ever goes on in Last Chance, well since Hee Haw saluted the town in 1974...and the fire of 2012 that burnt much of the ghost town, but unfortunately not all of it.

The Dairy King and the motel have been dead since the Reagan administration and The Texas to Montana trail... well that is a story in itself.

In one of the most suspicious deals in the history of insider deals, Charles and John Farwell, Chicago mercantile owners received a little over 3,000,000 acres comprised in the XIT Ranch in 1879 in exchange for building the Texas State Capitol in Austin.  It was the largest fenced ranch ever in the world.

Lets do the math:
in 1885, the cost of the Austin Capitol construction was 3.7 million.  In today's dollars that would be 91 million dollars.  A fair chunk of change.

What about the XIT Ranch?

Land:  Using the prices for Lamb County, Texas for the entire ranch (understand this ranch was 10 counties in size), $1200/ acre would be 3.6 billion dollars

Oil:  an 2014-15, the Ranch would have earned 20 million dollars each year from just the production in Oldham County.  This is slightly more than all of the oil ever produced in Parker County which it would have had.  The ranches lands in Hockley County produced about half of the 1.8 Billion barrels of oil produced in the 100,000 acre Slaughter Field.  Despite declining production this would have yielded $200,000,000 in 2015 alone and in high priced oil years in the last decade would have exceeded half a billion a year in royalties.

Add in cotton production, wind rights, water rights, coal, gravel,  etc

so this might be worth 10-20 billion dollars.  So 90 million OR 20 billion?  I think Texas made a mistake here, a big mistake.

The Farwells and their XIT Ranch, though proved that even with a gift horse, one could get fleas or in this case....  Texas Tick fever.  The plan was simple, at first just drive them to Kansas, but then that avenue closed.  It still seemed easy raise 100,000 head of cattle in Texas, then drive them to lands that the Farwell's owned in Montana to fatten them up and then ship them by train to Chicago, return and do it again  They had to by-pass Kansas because of fear of the tick born disease kept all cattle out of that state once the disease appeared a decade earlier.  It was such a great deal that the boys from Chicago went to England and borrowed all of the money to build the capitol on a 20 year bond.  The ranch never cash flowed, not even a little.  Maybe because the Farwells got distracted.  Charles became a senator and served in Congress in the late 80s, and John was busy building up a department store...1901 came and they owed 3.7 million dollars plus 20 years of interest.  They had nothing to support this.  The land went for sale and the Farwells died....being remembered as philanthropists, although raping and pillaging the range, spreading disease, would be better memories, and well..that is always forgotten about.  

Here is a marker on the trail in Last Chance, Colorado...the cattle came through here

So how did I get to own something out here?

It was at a bank trustee auction in Michigan and the last item up for bid was some property in Colorado, it wasn't why I was there.  Most everyone had left and this property had some title issues that were evident to me and I was I bid a token amount.  The auctioneer looked at me and said sold in like two seconds, I felt like an idiot, had I even bought anything?   Luckily, after I studied it, some of it had a good title, I chased down a decade of back rent, but I spent a couple bucks in legal fees to get another 80 acres cleared up.  The rest of it ...I now just get a tax bill for, which I ignore, as I can never own it, it is all tied up in a life estate for a woman without family in a nursing home somewhere in New Mexico...the county will get it eventually, probably soon....  A lawyer in 1979 made a mistake, it would be malpractice except the lawyer died in 1981, and then a person added something illegally to a trust in 1985 and he died and well...the trustee kept paying the taxes on something they didn't own....I probably should have left after the painting I was eyeing sold, but well...I was curious.  It was also a project piece, damaged in Superstorm Sandy and it was needing total restoration but the bidders went nuts on it and I never got my hand raised fast enough.  But my "last chance" was me.  The painting went for more money, shockingly, and it wasn't that high a priced painting.  A good used pickup costs more.  So what does this little piece of "heaven" look like?

It looks dry.  WORDS like flat, barren, ans desolate come to mind.....generally it is devoid of life..

Well, there were a few birds out there, I found 2 different Great horned owls

One on the power-line was very gray.  This is like my third lifer power-line bird for the trip.  A greater prairie chicken and an American pipit were my others.

Mountain bluebirds are always pleasant finds

I even have a local herd of antelope which came in across the road.  The bull is pretty nice but I spooked the harem so they went away from me and the road and watched me from a safe distance.

They are drilling an oil well nearby, so that is good, I guess.

They've moved off the massive drilling rig, and here they are swabbing to complete the well.  That is all I could glean from the road.  Going on to a well site without permission, especially here in the secretive edges of the Niobrara shale on the eastern Denver basin.  Trespassing would get me yelled at to beaten up.  It is said, Colorado holds up to a Trillion barrels of oil but as the geologists say, commercial production is speculative at best.  I think the owls and antelope have a better chance for commercial success than the oil for me.

I hope this isn't my last chance.......

My children will realize that some day, this piece of heaven will be all theirs.....maybe I'll wrap it up and put it under the tree?

the gift that keeps on giving...

Well, tomorrow, a meeting about what is the matter with Kansas, or something like that and then up to the Black Hills and the South Dakota Ornith. Union fall meeting tomorrow.

Colorado Springs is on my way to Spearfish...correct?   Maybe I should have brought a map!!


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