The ranch gate became a marker directing the traveler to the house. The most visible landmark on an otherwise featureless prairie, it alerted the wayfarer that a friendly face could be found nearby.
– Texas Monthly (July 1983)
Ranch gateways stand as the signature flourish to many ranches across the nation, serving as the entryway to the land and dwellings that reside within a ranch’s boundaries. According to this fascinating piece, “Texas Primer: The Ranch Gate“—published in Texas Monthly over 20 years ago and quoted above—the ranch gate was historically a welcoming signpost to help travelers and visitors find their way to the ranch’s main headquarters amidst a vast fenced landscape where other smaller gates might lead someone mistakenly to corrals, bunkhouses and barns. The gate came to be a waypoint marked with articles such as animal skulls, old wagon wheels and other ranch discards; over time, and with the arrival of more roads, the ranch gate was soon adorned with trademark features to reinforce the ranch’s brand with, say, its date of establishment or breed of cattle. Call it the advertising hoarding of a bygone era. Today, while ranch gates continue to beckon travelers in, they can also be as much to keep unwanted visitors out and provide a measure of privacy and security.