Ochiltree County was mostly a ranching community in the 1880s
and 1890s. The town of Ochiltree, named after Texas politician
William Beck Ochiltree, was founded in 1885 and became the county
seat in 1889.
Close to the turn of the century an interest
in farming brought many of the early family’s to the area.
A early cadastral
from 1889 shows the location of the towns of Ochiltree
and Cresswell. At this date very few sections in the county
were purchased. A lack of rail service in and out of Ochiltree
made it necessary
for farmers and ranchers to travel
long distances to market their product.
1908 Ownership Map
In 1909, the Enid, Ochiltree and Western Railroad attempted
to connect the town of Ochiltree with the town of Dalhart Texas
but less than fourteen miles of track was laid before
several factors, including a drought brought the project to
an end. A new
grain storage elevator
was built where the railroad was to be construced through
the town of Ochiltree. In 1910 the county reported 9,000
acres planted in wheat, 7,400 acres were planted to sorghum
and 2,075 acres were planted in corn. By 1919 the town of Ochiltree had increased in size and
population and was thriving as North Ochiltree and South Ochiltree.
On July 25, 1916 the North Texas & Santa Fe Railway Company
was chartered by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway to
build a railroad from Shattuck Oklahoma to Spearman Texas. The
east to west line was laid out through Ochiltree County about
8 miles north of the town of Ochiltree in 1919. Realizing that
their town would not survive without the railroad the decision
is made to move the town to the railroad. Most of the buildings
were pulled to their new location with steam powered tractors.
The February 1920
issue of Popular Mechanics featured the move in their cover
story. The new town was named
and became the new county seat.