The northernmost portion of the Texas Panhandle, the Dalhart High Plains area, is perhaps best known for its legendary cold weather. There is "only a barbed wire fence between it and the North Pole," as the saying goes.
To many it is famed for the three-million-acre XIT Ranch that was carved out of the Texas Public Domain as payment for construction of the State Capitol building in Austin, pursuant to a contract let in 1832. Buffalo Springs, thirty miles northwest of Dalhart, was the original XIT headquarters, and many early residents of the Dalhart area spent their youthful years as cowboys on the ranch.
From about 1901 to about 1939, those living in the High Plains area witnessed and took part in its transition from a purely cattle-raising empire to a cattle and farming empire. Only venturesome, independent, and self-reliant people were willing to cast their fate with the High Plains. In "High Plains Yesterdays," John C. Dawson, a retired Houston lawyer who grew up in Dalhart, captures the personalities and characters of some of these people and makes the reader intimately acquainted with them. The uninitiated will also feel the blizzards, sandstorms, droughts, and hot winds, and the contrasting clear, invigorating atmosphere, enormous skies, and broad vistas that the settlers experienced.