Established in 1898, Tongue River Ranch covers 120,000 acres of majestic land in Texas and New Mexico.
In 1898, Eric and Albin Swenson, the sons of Swedish immigrant S. M. Swenson of the SMS Ranches, purchased the 79,000 acre Scab 8 Ranch. The ranch was nestled in the communal corners of four Texas counties: King, Cottle, Motley and Dickens. The brothers renamed it Tongue River Ranch because of its location on the Tongue (South Pease) River. The unusual name of the river was said to bear reference to the Black Tongue, a nineteenth century disease which wiped out many buffalo in the region. Folklore also states that due to the melting pot of inhabitants as well as the myriad of languages representative of the Indian tribes and traders that traveled in this region, the river had been christened “The River of Many Tongues” and was later shortened to Tongue River. Either way, in 1898 Tongue River Ranch as it is known today, was born.
Present day owner, Millard Morris purchased the picturesque Tongue River at its current size of 89,000 rolling acres in 1997. Preserving the heritage of the ranch, while making many improvements, has been the focus of Mr. Morris. The headquarters has been revitalized and includes a state-of-the-art horse facility, restored cookhouse with guest rooms, a gym and entertainment area with a game room. A roping arena with round training facility and grandstands have been added.
In 2007, Mr. Morris purchased the New Mexico division of Tongue River Ranch. Situated to the southeast of the breathtaking area of Raton, this scenic ranch covers 32,000 acres of land at the foothills of the beautiful Sangre De Cristo Mountains. The New Mexico division has an abundance of grassland for cattle and the horses that are pastured there.
Paramount to the Tongue River Ranch operation is the outstanding horse program. Horses have always been a part of Tongue River Ranch’s history and growth. Tongue River Ranch cowboys use the American Quarter Horse in their daily work. The horses bred on the ranch are a pleasure to ride in and the cowboys need a horse that can put in a full day’s work. This is a horse with quickness, stamina, speed, cow sense, versatility and a lot of heart. Day to day at Tongue River Ranch, the horse is still just as important as it was in 1898.
Tongue River Ranch was very honored to be the 2011 recipient of the prestigious AQHA Best of Remuda Award. Tongue River Ranch has concentrated on raising horses that are not only well built animals but are, above all, highly intelligent, incredible athletes and that have the ability and the desire to get the job done. This is evidenced by the fact that the Tongue River Ranch Quarter Horses have led the ranch to nine WRCA finals which included two Top Horse Titles.
Tongue River Ranch quarter horses have also received Champion and Reserve Champion Titles at the RHAA finals in Abilene, Texas. The ranch has been privileged to have been awarded an exemplary amount of Top Horse Awards in the three largest and most recognized Ranch Rodeos in Texas: The Western Horseman’s Best of the West Invitational Ranch Rodeo at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, Texas Ranch Roundup in Wichita Falls, Texas, and the Western Heritage Classic in Abilene, Texas.
Tongue River Ranch is also one of the finest private hunting ranches in Texas. Quail, turkey and whitetail deer are abundant at the Texas Division. The New Mexico division is home to several large elk herds, mule deer, antelope and turkey. Preserving the land and quality wildlife management is a top priority of Mr. Morris.
Tongue River Ranch still focuses on many of the traditions that were utilized by the Swenson’s Ranches in 1898. Cowboys still head out for the day on horseback. A day’s work involves roundup, branding and doctoring the herd by dedicated horsemen in the old fashioned cowboy way. Sleeping in their bedrolls under the stars during roundup also includes meals cooked on the chuck wagon. Tongue River Ranch takes great pride in preserving the land for future generations to come. Continuing tradition and preserving history is a way of life not a job at Tongue River Ranch.