Red Mud Barbecue Sauce
Where it comes from
Not far from the Thompson Ranch is a tiny town named Lefors. Lefors, Texas is on the North Fork of the Red River and State Highway 273, twelve miles southeast of Pampa in central Gray County about 15 miles west of McLean, Texas. The North Fork of the Red River is a 271 mile-long or 436 kilometer long river in the United States, starting in the Texas panhandle and flowing in a generally eastward direction into Oklahoma, after which it flows roughly south-southeast before joining the main Red River near Frederick, Oklahoma and Vernon, Texas.
Along its path are many smaller tributaries that flow from it. Red Mud Creek is one of these small tributaries that runs on the ranch. The area around modern Lefors was near the heart of Comancheria and a common encampment site for the nomadic tribes of the Comanche. It is on this site where one of the final battles between the U.S. Army, commanded by General Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, and what was left of various Comanche tribal bands was waged on September 29th, 1872.
Lefors was founded in 1888 by Travis Leach, Perry LeFors, Henry Thut, and Henry B. Lovett. The town was named for Perry LeFors, who traveled with his father to the Panhandle in 1878 and later became foreman of the Diamond F Ranch - a part of the White Deer Lands (Francklyn Land and Cattle Company). The first homestead erected in 1882 on the future townsite was that of Travis Leach, a rancher and surveyor.
The log cabin he built served as a stagecoach stop on the mail route from Fort Elliott and Mobeetie to Tascosa. Henry B. Lovett, a former buffalo hunter, and Henry Thut, a Swiss immigrant whose sister-in-law, Emma Lang, married LeFors, also settled in the vicinity during the 1880s. George Henry Saunders had a ranch camp headquarters nearby.
Other settlers soon moved into the area, and in 1892 a post office was opened at Lefors with Henry Thut as postmaster. The spelling of the name was changed by postal officials who required that the F be written in lowercase. Four years later a combination school and church building was built.
When Gray County was organized on May 27th, 1902, Lefors was chosen as the county seat. A two-story frame courthouse was built at a cost of less than $2,500, and Thut, who became the first county treasurer, erected a hotel. Perry LeFors served as Lefors first constable.
When the oil boom hit the county during the 1920s, three oil rich areas were discovered in the vicinity. Lefors profited from the boom, especially in real estate, and the boom resulted in the establishment of an independent school district and the introduction of electricity and other modern utilities to the town.
By 1931 Lefors had incorporated, and in 1932 the town finally got railroad service when the Fort Worth and Denver Railroad extended its line from Pampa to Lefors. The population had increased to over 800 residents by 1940 with several Protestant groups establishing churches in the community.
On April 7th, 1938 eight people died when an early spring snow storm stranded around 100 people in some fifty-five automobiles on the road between Pampa and Lefors. Ten to twelve inches of snow fell in the Panhandle along with 50-mile an hour winds created drifts of five to twenty-feet deep in the area. Local men with farm tractors and heavy oil field equipment came to the rescue of the snowed in travelers - including two school buses which were rescued by the army.
Lefors suffered a flood in 1961, high unemployment from the closure of several area carbon black plants in 1964 and a severe tornado in 1975. The town took on the nickname of Ghost Town by its residents due to its shrinking population and the number of unoccupied run-down homes. As of the 2000 census the population had risen to just under 600.
McLean is a town in Gray County, Texas, United States. In 1901, Alfred Rowe, an English rancher who later died in the sinking of the Titanic, donated land near a railroad cattle loading stop for the establishment of the town site.
The Choctaw, Oklahoma and Texas Railroad Company constructed a water well and a switch and section house there. The town was named for Judge William P. McLean (1836 - 1925) of the Texas Legislature and Railroad Commission.
The town grew rapidly and by 1904 McLean had three general stores, a bank, two wagonyards and livery stables, a lumberyard, and a newspaper - the McLean News. A windmill pumped water from a well drilled in the middle of Main Street, and citizens hauled the water in barrels and buckets.
By 1909 McLean had became the focus of the areas agriculture with several hundred carloads of hogs and watermelons being shipped from the rail station each year. It became so busy that four telegraph operators were required to work the office of the railroad business.
The town was incorporated in 1909 with C. S. Rice as mayor and became a center for agriculture.
In 1927, U.S. Route 66, was built through the town, and it became a stop for tourists as well as a center for oil, livestock, and agriculture processing and shipping. During the hayday of Route 66, McLean boasted 16 service stations, six motels and numerous cafes. By 1940 the population had risen to 1,500 with 6 churches, 59 businesses, and a newspaper.
In 1942, a prisoner of war camp for German officers was built east-northeast of the town housing about 3000 German prisoners and continued to operate there until 1945.
As the prominence of other larger Texas Panhandle towns, especially Amarillo and Pampa outgrew McLean, the town began to decrease slowly in size.
The fate of the town was sealed in 1984 when the town was bypassed as part of the final phase of construction of Interstate 40, which replaced the old U.S. Route 66 through that area.
Currently McLean is a farm and ranch community and home to the Devils Rope Museum dedicated to the history of the use of barbed wire in the American west for the past 160 years.
It is also home to the Red River Steakhouse named for the north fork of the Red River that passes through the area.
The McLean Commercial District, consisting of most of the downtown area, was listed in the historical register on December 20, 2006.
In 1912, Alfred Rowe, the town's founder, left McLean to visit his native England. Tragically, he would never see McLean, Texas ever again. When he was returning to the United States from England, he went down with the Titanic when the supposedly unsinkable ship sank in the Atlantic in the early morning hours of April 15th, 1912.
Legends say that rescuers found him hugging his briefcase and frozen to death on top of an ice flow - with his gold watch still ticking.
To the east is Alanreed, Texas which is an unincorporated community in Gray County, Texas, United States. It is part of the Pampa, Texas Micropolitan Statistical Area.
The community was named for Messrs. Alan and Reed, partners in the contracting firm that laid out the present townsite for the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Texas Railroad back in 1900.
An earlier name for the town was Gouge Eye, in honor of a memorable saloon brawl that occurred there. At various times the town was also called Springtown or Spring Tank, for a large spring-fed tank located there.
Alanreed is situated at the intersection where Interstate 40 and FM 291 meet.
Loop 271 through the Alanreed community towards McLean, Texas is a former alignment of the historic U.S. Route 66 and contains a restored old Phillips 66 gas station from the 1930's.
In the early 1880s a group of farmers clearing timber from the basin of McClellan Creek selected the site, which was on the stage line from Mobeetie to Clarendon. By 1884 the Clarendon Land and Cattle Company began selling townsite lots.
F. R. McCraken and R. P. Reeves were among the first settlers. In 1886 a post office called Eldridge was established six miles north of the present site of Alanreed. This postoffice is the subject of a modern day historical marker that is on the highway at the county road that is the entrance to the Thompson Ranch where Red Mud Barbecue Sauce was developed.
Even though the population was placed at 500 people in 1927, by 1929 both the towns hotel and the bank had closed. In 1930 the Alanreed school was consolidated with three other area schools. In 1933 the number of residents was said to have dropped to 150.
By 1939 the population had grown to 200, and fifteen businesses were open in town. By 1947 the town of Alanreed reported eleven businesses and a population of 300 residents.
In the early 1960s the Alanreed school district merged with that of McLean, and a new school was built in 1964. The town reported a population of 200 and five businesses in 1967, but over the next decade both continued to decline.
In 1977 the population was estimated at sixty with no businesses.
In 2001 the community had an estimated fifty-two inhabitants, a Baptist church, a gas station, a motel and gift shop, and a post office and remains like this today.
The area is part of what's known as the Llano Estacado - Palisaded Plain or also known as the Staked Plain. It is a region in the Southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas and one of the largest mesas or tablelands on the North American continent.
The elevation rises from 3,000 feet or 900 meters in the southeast to over 5,000 feet or 1,500 meters in the northwest, sloping almost uniformly at about 10 feet per mile.
The Llano Estacado lies at the southern end of the Western High Plains eco-region of the Great Plains of North America. It is part of what was once called the Great American Desert. The Canadian River forms its northern boundary which separates it from the rest of the High Plains. To the east, the Caprock Escarpment, a precipitous cliff about 300 feet or 100 meters high, lies between the Llano and the red Permian plains of Texas.
To the west, the Mescalero Escarpment delineates the edge of the Pecos River valley. The Llano Estacado has no natural southern boundary, but instead blends into the Edwards Plateau near Big Spring, Texas. This geographic area stretches about 250 miles or 400 kilometers north to south, and 150 miles or 240 kilometers east to west, a total area of some 37,500 square miles or 97,000 square kilometers - making it larger than Indiana and 12 other states.
It covers all or part of 33 Texas counties and four New Mexico counties. During some years, a National Weather Service dust storm warning is issued in parts of Texas due to dust storms originating from the area or from the adjacent lower part of the Southwestern Tablelands ecological region.
The landscape is, fortunately, dotted by numerous small playa lakes - depressions that seasonally fill with water and provide important habitat for waterfowl.
The Llano Estacado has a cold semi-arid climate, with long, hot summers and cold winters. Rainfall is extremely low with the entire region receiving fewer than 23 inches or 580 millimeters of rainfall annually and the western part receiving as little as 14 inches or 360 millimeters.
High summer temperatures mean that most of the small amounts of precipitation are lost to evaporation, which makes dry-land farming extremely difficult.
The Texas State Historical Society states that the Llano Estacado covers all or part of thirty-three Texas counties, six less than as depicted by a US Geological Survey map, and four New Mexico counties.
Spanish conquistador Francisco Coronado, the first European to traverse this sea of grass in 1541, described it as follows:
"I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went, although I traveled over them for more than 300 leagues - with no more land marks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea. There was not a stone, nor bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by."
In the early 18th century, the Comanches expanded their territory into the Llano Estacado, displacing the Apaches who had previously occupied it. The region became part of the Comancheria, a Comanche stronghold until their final defeat in the late 19th century. The Comanche war trail extended from the LLano Estacado to the Rio Grande and down into Chihuahua.
It was known as "the trail ran southwesterly through Big Spring to the Horsehead Crossing of the Pecos River, then forked southward to the Comanche Springs where it divided, one part of the trail crossing the great river near Boquillas and the other at Presidio."
Robert G. Carter described it in 1871 while pursuing Quanah Parker with Ranald S. Mackenzie:
"...all were over and out of the canyon upon what appeared to be a vast, almost illimitable expanse of prairie. As far as the eye could reach, not a bush or tree, a twig or stone, not an object of any kind or a living thing, was in sight . It stretched out before us - one uninterrupted plain, only to be compared to the ocean in its vastness."
In August of 1872, General Mackenzie was the first to successfully lead troops across the Llano Estacado to engage in the Battle of the North Fork of the Red River near Lefors, Texas.
William "Billy" Dixon, described the area while buffalo hunting in June of 1874:
"All of us hunters acquainted with the habits of the buffalo knew that the herds would soon be coming north from the Llano Estacado region where they had spent the winter - moved by that strange impulse that caused them to change their home and blacken the Plains with their countless, moving forms."
In the latter part of the 19th century, the Llano Estacado was a refuge for the bands of Kiowas and Comanches who refused to be confined on reservations in the Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. One of their last battles against the US Army was fought on the 28th of September 1874 in the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon south of present day Amarillo.
Today, most of the population of the area is localized in the principal cities of Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa, Texas. The vast majority of the area is rural, dominated by large ranches and irrigated farms. There are several small to medium-sized towns do exist such as Andrews, Hereford, Plainview, Levelland, and Lamesa, Texas, as well as Clovis, Portales, and Hobbs, New Mexico.
One of the largest economic drivers on the Llano Estacado is energy production, with the region experiencing significant activity for producing oil and natural gas associated with the Permian Basin.
Additionally, wind farms have proliferated on the Llano Estacado due to the region's windy climate making it a favorable location for the production of energy generated by wind.
Cotton, grain sorghum, corn, wheat, peanuts, sunflowers, grapes, vegetables, and cattle produced in the region literally go around the world. Their economic impact on the region runs in the billions of dollars with the availability of water being a key factor influencing the region's agribusiness economy.
The Llano Estacado is sometimes humorously described as being "85 percent sky and 15 percent grassland."
The Red River, or sometimes the Red River of the South, is a major tributary of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers in the southern United States. The river was named for the red-bed country of its watershed and is one of several rivers with that name.
R.B. Marcy observed in 1853 that:
"The Mexicans and Indians on the borders of Mexico are in the habit of calling any river, the waters of which have a red appearance, Rio Colorado or Red river". The Red River formed part of the US-Mexico border from the signing of the Adams-OnÃs Treaty (1821) until the Texas Annexation or Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
The Red River is the second-largest river basin in the southern Great Plains and rises in two branches in the Texas Panhandle - flowing east where it acts as the border between the states of Texas and Oklahoma. The total length of the river is 1,360 miles or 2,190 kilometers.
Part of the diversity of the region is the establishment of a winery. Llano Estacado is the largest, best selling premium Winery in Texas, producing wines of world class quality, and has been an ongoing pioneer in introducing not just Texans, but also the entire world to the great wines made in the Lone Star State.
Visit Llano Estacado Winery at www.llanowine.com