In 1889, when Isaac Ellwood stepped down from the train in the West Texas town of Colorado (known today as Colorado City), he knew he had come to the right place. The railroad shipping pens were full of cattle, and the dirt streets were bustling with activity. Colorado City was the end of the line for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and ranchers drove their cattle there from as far north as Amarillo, as far south as San Angelo and from the west as far as eastern New Mexico. For a man who had a product to market to cattlemen, it looked like paradise.
The Renderbrook Ranch is located about 20 miles south of Colorado City. In 1889, the ranch was owned by two brothers named Snyder. Isaac struck a deal with the Snyder brothers and then assigned his son, W. L. Ellwood, to the task of stocking the ranch with cattle. W.L. soon found 800 head of good cows. Isaac bought the cows, along with the spade brand that they wore, hired a man to drive them south, and Spade Ranches was born.
When AQHA was founded in 1940, Spade Ranches wasn’t long in getting involved. In 1942, the ranch registered its first horses and, through the years, has continued to upgrade the remuda. In 1943, the Spade Ranch utilized the Remount stallion Some Good (TB).
On its six ranches, Spade has approximately 10,000 head of cattle, to include about 6,000 mother cows, with the balance being replacement heifers, herd bulls and stockers. To handle the cattle takes good horses, and that’s the kind Spade is raising.
Spade Ranches is one of the few large ranches working today that has existed in three centuries and is still owned by the original family.
Photograph courtesy of The Quarter Horse Journal