After Indians and buffalo were removed in the 1870s, several hundred cattlemen with small herds came to the Rolling Plains near the site of what would become Lubbock.
Vital natural water sources were found east of the Caprock.
Free range ranchers prospered until 1884, when syndicates began purchasing land and enclosing large blocks with barbed wire.
The Spur Ranch alone acquired more than 500,000 acres of land and bought cattle and brands from 37 of the free rangers. Similar ranches were developed by the Curry Comb, IOA, Jumbo, Long S, Magnolia, Matador, Pitchfork, Square and Compass, T Bar and Two Buckle ranching interests.
By 1885, all free range operations were transformed into large, enclosed ranches.
Some free rangers exchanged cattle for stock in syndicates, others were employed by syndicates and a few moved further West.