La Escalera Ranch is one of the largest cattle ranches in Texas consisting of more than 260,000 deeded acres in five counties (Pecos, Reeves, Brewster, Archer and Baylor). According to a 2010 survey by The Land Report, the Lyda family is ranked No. 23 among the “Top 100 Landowners in the United States.”
The Fort Stockton Division of La Escalera Ranch is located approximately twenty miles south of Fort Stockton, Texas — where a military fort was founded in 1859 near Comanche Springs, a favorite rest stop on the Comanche Trail, the Old San Antonio Road and the Butterfield Overland Mail stage route. The fort was established to protect travelers and settlers from marauding Comanche and Apache Indians. Along with the menacing Indians, the area was a haven for outlaw bands that rustled cattle and horses and robbed the Overland stage.
The Seymour Division of La Escalera Ranch is located near Seymour, Texas — where the Western Trail crosses the Brazos River. The lush grasslands in the area were once Comanche buffalo hunting grounds. Early settlers were driven out by Comanche raids. The farmers and ranchers that did put down roots sometimes violently contested for the land. In 1879, the Millett Brothers, originally from Guadalupe County, began ranching in this area. They ran a tough outfit and used their armed cowhands to intimidate settlers and the citizens of newly founded Seymour. Not until the Texas Rangers stepped in was peace brought to the area.
While the Lyda family own and operate La Escalera Ranch today, it was previously owned by the Elsinore Cattle Company
of Elsinore, California. In 1992, Gerald Lyda, a San Antonio building contractor, exchanged The Ladder Ranch in southeastern New Mexico for the Elsinore-owned EL Ranch.