By Barbara Brannon/The Caprock Courier—
“open running six” 6666 brand, registered in King County, Texas, back in 1903 and in Carson County in 1908, has been described as almost impossible for thieves to modify—and as the hallmark of one of Texas’s most storied ranching operations.
Now, 150 years after Samuel Burk Burnett drove his first herd of 1,300 cattle up from the Rio Grande to graze around the Little Wichita River near what would become the town of Guthrie, those operations are for sale. After a century and a half of continuous Burnett family ownership, when heir Anne Burnett Marion died in February 2020, provisions of her will called for sale of what had grown to three divisions in Texas: the Headquarters ranch of 142,372 acres in Guthrie, the 114,455-acre Dixon Creek Division near Borger, and the more recently acquired 9,428-acre Frisco Creek Division near Stratford.
The combined price tag is $347,757,460, surpassing the asking rate for T. Boone Pickens’ Mesa Vista Ranch in the Panhandle but only half the $725 million paid in 2016 for Texas’s gigantic Waggoner Ranch, for context.
The Lubbock-based real estate firm Chas. S. Middleton and Son announced the sale earlier this month. An extensive sale brochure and website details the assets of each division. For the flagship 6666 Ranch in Guthrie, farmland and grazing land along with numerous structures and houses are included.
Burk Burnett built the “big house,” the three-story rock structure that dominates the view of Guthrie and surrounding ranch structures and pastures, in 1917 from locally quarried stone. The home contains some 13,280 square feet of living area, with 13 bedrooms, 13 baths, 3 powder rooms, 2 kitchens, a dining room and three fireplaces.
Travelers on US Highway 82 through Guthrie can readily spot the famous brand on the red-painted 3,600-square-foot enclosed airplane hangar with its private 6,000-foot asphalt landing strip, and on the 48,750-square-foot covered arena, barns, offices, and houses of the Horse Division.
Visitors turning off the highway into Guthrie may stop in at the 6666 Supply House, a rock storefront dating to 1900, and note the 6666’s famous loft barn, the employee houses in town, and other ranch properties. Students of ranching history have long appreciated the 1917 barn, which was moved in 1981 to the National Ranching Heritage Center and remains a widely used focal point of the outdoor museum today.
According to Middleton, the ranch’s livestock—its cattle herds as well as its world-famous American Quarter Horses—will be sold separately. Annually in October, the Four Sixes has traditionally hosted its Return to the Remuda sale with neighboring partners and guest consigners; in 2020 the event yielded a record 156 sales to the public.
Whatever future is in store for the Ranch’s ownership, the Guthrie community will be watching. Many livelihoods, not only on the ranch but in local school, government, and service sectors are interdependent on the ranch in this town of 160. The Sixes isn’t the only property in the area to go on the market recently, and it isn’t the only outfit in a region known for large, legendary ranches, but its sale will turn the chapter on a century-and-a-half of continuous lineage.
For more info on the sale of the 6666 Ranch go to the Chas S. Middleton and Son, LLC website: https://chassmiddleton.com/