In December 1882, the Matador Land and Cattle Company was formed by Scottish investors who assumed the Texas ranching operations for $1.25 million. The acquisition included about 1.5 million acres in Motley, Floyd, Dickens, and Cottle counties. In 1951, the company, which then owned about 800,000 acres, was sold to Lazard Freres and Company of London for $18,9 million. Upon its purchase from the Scots, Lazard Freres sub-divided the land for sale.
On Oct. 3, 1952, Fred C. Koch, co-founder of what has become Koch Industries, Inc., formed Matador Cattle Company. Later, a company owned by Koch acquired three parcels of the Texas-based Matador Ranch, which was joined with other Koch-operated ranches in Montana and Kansas.
Koch bought the Flying V cattle brand and the “50” horse brand, both of which were used by the Scots during their 70-year ownership. He also acquired the ranch headquarters, south of the city of Matador. It is a stone house that lies east of a spring-fed lake, overlooking the corrals and barns. The house is 7,000-square-feet, under roof. The 24-inch-thick exterior walls are built from rock quarried on the ranch. The house was designed with two separate uses: the west end for the ranch manager and the east end for visiting Scottish investors. Today, the ranch manager lives in the west end, and the ranch’s business operations are conducted from the east end.
After Fred Koch’s death in 1967, his son, Charles, took over the family business and renamed it Koch Industries, Inc. Since 1960, the value of the Standard & Poor’s 500 grew more than 82-fold, assuming the reinvestment of dividends. During that same period, the value of Koch Industries grew more than 2,800-fold, using the same assumptions. The ranch is owned and operated by Matador Cattle Company, a division of Koch Agriculture Company, which is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries. Koch Industries is one of America’s largest private companies, according to Forbes magazine, with more than 67,000 employees.
Current and former employees welcomed more than 700 former cowboys and other guests to Matador Ranch as part of its 50th anniversary celebration of company ownership. Visitors toured the original ranch house and other sites around the ranch.
For additional historical photos of Matador Ranch, please see the Amon Carter Museum’s photo collection.