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.
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.