Croton Breaks

By: Richard Allen Burns

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: December 1, 1994

The Croton Breaks is a 250-square-mile area of rough land below the escarpment of the Llano Estacado (at 33°35' N, 100°44' W). The breaks encompass the southwest quarter of Dickens County between Dickens on the north and John Bell Canyon on the south. The region is severely eroded, marked with densely dissected gullies and low hills, a typical badlands topography with shallow topsoil or none. Plants are few. In 1879 the Matador Land and Cattle Company, which owned nearly half a million acres in Motley, Floyd, Dickens, and Cottle counties, owned most of the land in the Croton Breaks. Cattle often were lost in the breaks and could not be rounded up in the spring. Stories of a lost lead mine in the Croton Breaks near Dickens are typified by the version in J. Frank Dobie's Legends of Texas (1924). Some locals claim the rangeland received its name from the bitter water found in the Little and Big Croton creeks, which run through the breaks. Others claim that a tribe of "Croton Indians" were in the vicinity in the 1860s.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Richard Allen Burns, “Croton Breaks,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994