History of the Steve Trigg Ranch
Lying in the rough Canadian Escarpment, the land which is now Trigg Ranch
has a long history.
Where canyons have been eroded deep into the mesas, massive trunks of
petrified wood from the Jurassic Morrison formation are exposed. The mesa
tops are Dakota Sandstone, laid down along the shore of a shallow inland
sea that stretched south from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in the late
Cretaceous period. When the sand was still wet some 65 million years ago,
twenty-six-foot-long Iguanodon dinosaurs left their footprints as they
ate the plants along the shore.
Aeons later, Jicarilla Apaches and—beginning in the early 1700’s—the
Comanches roamed the mesas and canyons of Trigg Ranch; they left artifacts
and petroglyphs which we enjoy rediscovering.
The Spanish explorers Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, Francisco Leyva de
Bonilla and Juan de Onate came through this country between 1540 and 1604.
The Spanish didn’t settle here, though, because of raiding by the
In 1824, attempting to open northeastern NM to settlement, the King of
Spain granted 655,000 acres of land to a wealthy citizen of New Mexico,
Pablo Montoya, who brought settlers into the valley of the Canadian River.
In the 1880s, most of the Montoya grant was bought by developer J. Wilson
Waddingham; after he went bankrupt in the 1890s, it was operated as the
Bell Ranch, headquartered in the great central valley on the Canadian.
The original Trigg headquarters in Dog Canyon is one of the early line
camps established by the Bell Ranch.
Atarque Creek is one of the routes Charles Goodnight had used in the 1870s
for trailing cattle north to the railroads in Kansas. Goodnight preferred
the protected valley where he could keep the cattle together more easily
than on the plains just to the east.
Along this same creek, in the early 1900s the Southern Pacific Railroad
built a spur line north from Tucumcari to coal mines in Dawson, NM, and
French, Colorado, and ran daily trains. Until the early 1960s the line
shipped supplies and cattle for both the Bell and the Triggs.
During the early 1900’s a few brave and intrepid settlers homesteaded
outside the Pablo Montoya grant along several of the canyons on the ranch
in Harding County. After decades of drought and depression, almost all
these homesteads had been absorbed by ranchers T.E. Mitchell and E.F.
Gallegos. Ruins of rock homes, corrals and graves still remain.
Trigg Ranch was established in 1917 when Tuck Trigg and his children bought
250,000 acres of Bell land – a 6-mile-wide strip along the east
and north sides, and Aberdeen Angus cattle were trailed over from the
XIT ranch in the Texas panhandle. Early in the 1920s, when the cattle
business was hit by cancellation after World War I of US Army contracts
for beef, the eastern portion of the land was divided among the siblings
while the north section defaulted to the Bell. Steve took the middle part,
east of the railroad and south from Campana. Subsequently Steve Jr bought
back land northwest of Campana and added land to the northeast, outside
the original Montoya grant.
During Prohibition, so remote were the back corners of Trigg Ranch that
a large still which supplied booze to NE New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle
was operated on the ranch, unknown to at least some of the Triggs.
After the deaths of Steve and Bess Trigg, the ranch was operated by Steve
Jr until his death in 2002. At that time a trust had been formed by the
heirs of Steve and Bess Trigg, who have gifted to it all our interests.
The ranch is now operated by a Family Limited Partnership, of which Trigg
Cattle Company is the general partner. Ranch manager is Kristen Trigg
Holmes, assisted by her husband Rick Holmes.
HI, cousins and folks...
For Linda's versions of the Trigg family tree:
Click Here for the TREE of
ANCESTORS of Adaline, Louise, & Stephen - just the
direct lines, including Triggs, Whittles and Talbots.
Click Here for the TREE OF
DESCENDANTS of Daniel Trigg b. 1650; this includes US
AND OUR CHILDREN, and the siblings all the way along.
I have added the notes I've made for some of the folks,
but they are very spotty. Will work on them someday... And I
see that I don't have everything up to date - and no doubt
there are a lot of errors. PLEASE email me your corrections
and questions and I'll keep at this. I'll also add photos; I
have some back into the mid-1800s.
You can download the PAF program for free from the
www.familysearch.org site; click on software download
Then you can download the GEDCOM file from this site
(from the pafx.htm page) and have all the information in a
form you can edit.
Most of this information was gathered by George D.
Whittle and Lester White, many a year ago; I think Lester
White of Fort Worth worked in the early 1900s and handed on
to Uncle Dordy (George D. Whittle).