History of Travel to Boys Ranch

On a cold, windy morning in March of 1939, four men climbed into a car especially built for rugged terrain and followed a rough, winding road across the prairie to the skeletal remains of Old Tascosa.  Behind the wheel was Julian Bivins, and his passengers were Cal, Ralph Dykeman, and Chancelor Weymouth, all to become members of the Boys Ranch Board of Directors.  They stood on the courthouse steps and surveyed the scene before them – a few crumbling adobe buildings, a small creek, lots of grass, and aged cottonwood trees.

“How do you like it?” Bivins asked.  

“It’s perfect,” Cal declared. 

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When Boys Ranch was founded in 1939 on the site of the ruins of historic Tascosa, Texas, travel from Amarillo took up to 4 hours.  


That rough, winding road was dirt through the 1950’s.  There was no bridge completed across the Canadian River until 1955.  With no phone at the Ranch, Cal would use his daily radio broadcast from his business, the Wun Stop Duzzit in Amarillo, to let the Ranch know he was coming.  Some boys from the Ranch would meet him at the river with a tractor or mules to make sure he could get his car across.  If it rained in New Mexico within hours of his trip, the river could rise to where he could not cross.  He’d wave and head back to Amarillo.

1955 photo of Bivins Airstrip
Google Earth Photo showing X patern from Bivins Airstrip

The road crossed the river just east of the current bridge.  That road ended about where our current cemetery road meets the State Spur 233 (Pylon Road).  To the right was Boys Ranch, to the left was the road to Channing.  That road headed west (up current Spur 233) and across what is now Highway 385 (which also did not exist until 1959).  As it headed west, it crossed Bivins property and the Bivins Airstrip. 

 The road then headed west along our current Magenta/Cheyenne dirt road to the railroad trestle and then north to Channing.  Our current Highway 385 did not begin construction until 1959.

The construction of the Canadian River bridge began in 1953 and was completed in 1955.  

The 1955 photo shows at least 21 airplanes that brought dignitaries to the dedication of the new Canadian River Bridge.  

The dedication was a major event.  The Air Force Band was brought in to play while many state and panhandle dignitaries were in attendance.  After the dedication at the bridge (notice that there was no pavement up to the bridge), everyone came to the Ranch for lunch.  This bridge remained in service until 2003.  It’s decking began to crumble and huge holes would form as large chunks of concrete fell in to the river.   The current bridge was completed in 2004 and is much wider than the original.

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