Texas State Bison Herd – Preservation of the Bison


Charles Goodnight

Famed cattleman Charles Goodnight moved cattle into Palo Duro Canyon in 1876. Forming a partnership with John and Cornelia Adair in 1882, vast acres of land were purchased in the canyon forming the noted JA Ranch. The land on which the park is located is believed to be included in this purchase. Colonel Goodnight’s wife Mary Ann Goodnight was concerned about the number of buffalo being slaughtered. At her urging Goodnight obtained several bison from the remnants of the Southern Plains herd in the northern Texas Panhandle before they were exterminated.

Mary Ann Goodnight

These animals would form one of five foundation herds in the United States from which the majority of current herds have developed. During his lifetime, Goodnight’s bison herd grew and he experimented with crossing bison with Poll Angus cattle that resulted in hybrids he called "cattalo."

Now 120 years later, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has accepted donation of the historic JA Ranch herd from ranch owners Monte Ritchie and Ninia Bivins and the herd has been moved to Caprock Canyons State Park.

Cornelia Adair

"Of all bison alive today, the JA Ranch bison are uniquely important because they have been kept isolated at the site where they were caught in the 1870's and not cross-bred with other bison," said Andrew Sansom, TPWD executive director. "They are a potent symbol of the American West, and their addition to the Texas State Park system means the heritage they represent will be preserved for future generation."


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