Goodnight’s Corrals

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In the photo (left), my friend Paul Matney stands beside what is probably the oldest, extant, wooden structure in the Texas Panhandle.

I’m  referring to the corrals built in 1876 by legendary cattleman Charles Goodnight, constructed just two years after, and located just eight miles east of the last Indian battle in Texas. Larry McMurtry patterned his Lonesome Dove character Woodrow Call after Goodnight. Both were Texas Rangers, both leaders of early Texas cattle drives, and both tough as the land they tamed.

As a teen in the late 1960’s, I often rode my horse down the steep canyon rim to Goodnight’s place. Forty-something years later the route is impassable for horses and only barely passable for two sixty-one year old men in search of an adventure.

We paid for it on our Saturday morning hike. The ubiquitous juniper and thick shinnery left us scratched and bleeding, but it was worth it.

For one sees visions in the ruins—of plain-talking, hard-working cowboys, who had no idea how courageous they were, no idea what a difference they would make, what a future they were building for their descendants.

They were not proud, but we are.

Proud of their bravery, and proud of this great Texas ranch country, where one can turn in any direction and see miles of pristine prairie, as rugged and beautiful now as it was in the days these corrals were built.

5 thoughts on “Goodnight’s Corrals

  1. Brian and I will never forget the trail ride with you and other wranglers the summer of 1979. He was on the mule Henry J. Buckwheat and I on some black, swayback pony -Sassy?.
    Great times seeing a part of history.

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