From ranch to retail: the history of ranching in the Basin


MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/ Fox 24)- Way before West Texas was known for being an oil patch, it was cow country. The history of cattle raising runs deep in the Basin.

“Midland was considered halfway between El Paso and Fort Worth,” said John Scharbauer, 5th generation rancher & owner of Midland Meat Co.

They called it Midway.

“Fort Worth Stockyards was notorious. That’s where everybody sold their cattle. They would load cattle on the trains in El Paso and ship them east to Fort Worth. Midland became a hub for that because it was halfway and they needed to water cattle,” said John Scharbauer.

“Good soil, good grass, good minerals,” said Chris Scharbauer, 4th generation rancher.

The shallow water in Midland was also very attractive to cattle people.

“Watering the cattle off the trains was important. Because back then obviously the trains didn’t go as fast as they do now. So a trip to El Paso from Fort Worth took a while,” said John Scharbauer.

“The Scharbauers came here in the 1880’s,” said Chris Scharbauer.

A lot of deals got done in Midland. That crowd needed a place to stay.

“Clarence Scharbauer, my grandfather just absolutely put the golden star on the ranching operation,” said Chris Scharbauer.

Clarence Scharbauer built the Scharbauer hotel in 1927. “And that was kind of the hub for business and it became a hub for the oil business,” said John Scharbauer.

That hotel was torn down. The DoubleTree hotel in downtown Midland sits there today. The Scharbauer family has a long history of ranching in the Permian Basin. They’ve held on to their land for five generations, going on six.

Maybe what makes the Scharbauers operation so great. The family is picky in choosing cattle.

It’s a 3-year process from the time they turn a bull out to when you’ll see the steak.

“It takes us a lot of time and effort to create the beef,” said John Scharbauer.

The beef from the cattle they raise is sold locally at the Midland Meat Company.
“[John] serves a restaurant in New York. You can see what he’s got here. He’s just inundated with people who love this beef,” said Chris Scharbauer.

The Scharbauer family helped shape what Midland is today.

“We gave to the community. Midland’s home,” said Chris Scharbauer.

It all started with sheep ranching for them.
Now you’ll see their name across town- on buildings and street signs.

“You know I love the ranches and it’s one of the last real freedoms I feel as an occupation. We’re gonna try to push this thing as far as we can push it and setting up and being integrated is going to hopefully allow us to do that and extend these ranches five, six, seven generations,” said John Scharbauer.

The Scharbauers continue to give back to West Texas in many ways. Like providing meat to the soup kitchen and food bank.

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