This beautiful image of a standing rainwater pond on the Criswell Range is unique considering that this range generally has no standing surface water. © 2007 - 2012 SaveTheRange.com
© 2007 - 2012 SaveTheRange.com
© 2007 - 2012 SaveTheRange.com
© 2007 - 2012 SaveTheRange.com


Criswell Story

The Criswell Allotment

The area that is now called The Criswell Allotment, became the Criswell Ranch in 1928 when George Criswell, a single man, bought Section 34 in Township 3 Range 10 in Catron County for One Dollar and other considerations. It is assumed by many that he was then allowed to graze cattle on the other patented land in the area, which belonged to The Santa Fe Railroad.

In 1948, twenty years later, he and his wife bought the rest of the patented land for about twenty-eight thousand dollars. The need to purchase the land was probably prompted by the passage of the Taylor Grazing Act in 1936. The TGA established Arizona and New Mexico as “base water states”. All other states were declared to be “base land states”. By this act, the person who owned the water or the land could graze on the surrounding public land.

The difference of grazing rights in the various states was occasioned by the very unique water rights that had been established in the Arizona Territory. Firstly, there are the Pueblo and Indian water rights. Next, there are the acequias water rights, which were fashioned by the early Spanish settlers. Acequias has come to mean both the channels that carry the water to the small farms and the community that uses the water.

When in 1848 New Mexico became a part of the United States, and the Anglos arrived, another system of water distribution was intermingled with the existing forms of water distribution. This was based on private property rights. Water was allocated on a first come first served basis. The first to tap a water source could have whatever he could beneficially use. Then the next person could claim his rights and so on.

The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 established within the Federal Land Office regulations to control the overgrazing, soil deterioration, and other misuse of natural resources. The act established vast grazing districts, a total of 80 million acres. Grazing permits were issued and isolated tracts not within the grazing districts were leasable to nearby landowners in the cattle raising business.

The Criswell, which was started in 1928 came into this category. George Criswell had at least one section of land with at least one producing water-well. Although we don’t know for sure, it seems he probably signed up for a lease of the public land near him.

The below list chronologically lists the dates:

  • George Criswell started running cattle here in 1928
  • Taylor grazing act 1934
  • BLM formed 1946
  • BLM named this the Criswell Allotment. The Allotment did not include some other property that Criswell owned in T2 R10
George Criswell ran cattle here from 1928 until about 1970. Then the bank took possession and the land was sold in forty acre pieces.


Visitor Tip:

If you came to this page looking for our story covering the history of America's railroads, click here.


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© 2007 - 2012 SaveTheRange.com


© 2007 - 2012 SaveTheRange.com
© 2007 - 2012 SaveTheRange.com