Goodnight Ranch

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: January 19, 2012

The name Goodnight Ranch is sometimes applied to the JA Ranch, founded by Charles Goodnight and John G. Adair in 1876. The JA, however, was divided in 1887, two years after Adair's death. His widow, Cornelia Wadsworth Adair, took the Palo Duro and Tule divisions and Goodnight kept the Quitaque Ranch division. At the same time, Goodnight established a smaller ranch on 160 sections in Armstrong County. This ranch extended north to the Salt Fork of the Red River and centered around the town of Goodnight, then recently founded on the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway. This ranch bore its owner's name after 1887. In town Goodnight built a spacious two-story ranchhouse, complete with roofed porches and indoor bath facilities. Johnnie Martin, who later became a business partner, was put in charge of the cattle operations, organized as the Goodnight-Thayer Cattle Company. Goodnight brought a 250-head experimental buffalo herd to this ranch. In addition he raised elk, antelope, and various other animals, as well as different species of fowl, which he kept in zoo-like enclosures. He also grew the first wheat crop in Armstrong County here. The Goodnight Ranch became a major attraction to visitors. Goodnight kept his interest in the Quitaque property until 1890, but he used the Goodnight Ranch as his home base. After selling out his interest in the Goodnight-Thayer enterprise about 1900, he restricted his range activities to sixty sections near the railroad and continued to operate it until 1927, two years before his death. At that time all but the house and a few other town holdings were sold, and many of the animals were shipped to zoos and game preserves worldwide. The house remains a landmark in Goodnight, and a small remnant of the Goodnight buffalo herd is owned by the JA Ranch.

J. Evetts Haley, Charles Goodnight (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876–1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).

  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranches Established After 1835

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Goodnight Ranch,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 19, 2012