- SPECIAL REPORTS
- THE MAGAZINE
I just got back from a combination business trip and Thanksgiving holiday in a part of Texas about 400 miles West of Austin. Unfortunately, due to a confidentiality agreement, I can't divulge many of the details of the business end except to say that it was to drive around a ranch with a prospective client.
I can however mention that this particular client is a musician who has made enough of a pile of money off the degenerate lifestyles of Louisiana and Mississippi to afford a pretty big ranch in West Texas. However, her name will have to remain undisclosed in this account seeing as how I'm sworn to secrecy.
I can tell you that Thanksgiving in Fort Davis was great as always, the weather sunny and beautiful.
On Friday, I met this client in a town about twenty miles South of Fort Davis and we drove out to look at a ranch that she was seriously thinking about buying. "Cool truck!" she said as I held the door open. I figured that it didn't hurt a bit either that I had a couple of her albums in the console, but as we got rolling down the highway, she went for one of the John Coltrane.
"Say," she asked, "mind if I play this?"
"Just eject what's in there now," I said as one of her CD's slid out of the player.
"So, you listenin' to me and Coltrane, huh?"
I suppose I could have mentioned the Joan Osborne album that was also toward the back of the CD box, but I knew from experience that it was probably better to let the client do the talking.
"Yeah," I said.
It turned out that she knew quite a bit about John Coltrane, certainly a heckuva lot more than I would have bet. I kept the truck pointed down the highway to the ranch as she fired into a freeform monologue that wound through his life and times.
The ranch she had in mind was actually a pretty nice place. It was (subject to determination by survey) twenty sections of what looked like fairly decent pasture.
The fences were old, but I'd seen much worse and I told her so. She didn't care that much about them."I can always get them fences fixed, can't I?" she asked.
As we drove around the ranch, I was careful to remind her that the fences may or may not be on the line, that the fence looked old, but that was no guarantee of anything. She seemed to be interested a little bit in how the early surveys had been run, so as we approached one corner of the ranch, I suggested that we stop and take a look to see whether the original patent corner was looking at us.
About 12 ft. off the fence corner, there was in fact an old rock mound with a marked stone.
I was pretty sure that I knew what it was, but I was also pretty sure that there was a more engaging explanation.
"Hmmm," I said. "It looks as if that corner isn't known." It's a good thing that you're planning on having a survey made to see exactly what you may be buying before you fork over the cash.
Fortunately, she really liked the old ranch headquarters buildings and that pushed the "Unknown" corner off the board for the time being.
On the way back, it was pretty clear that she'd convinced herself to buy the ranch, so I was just working on closing the sale on the surveying services, in particular laying it on fairly thick about how the fact that the land was fenced didn't really guarantee much of anything, or something along those lines.
As always, I mentioned how fences were considered to be synonymous with boundaries in some other states and what a mess that tended to lead to. As if on cue, just a perfect example showed up on the side of the road, a specimen so good that I had to stop the truck so that I could point it out and get a photo.
There plain as day was an old standard Texas Highway Department Type I concrete right-of-way marker in nearly perfect condition on the West line of a State highway right-of-way.
But less than eight feet away from the actual right-of-way marker was a sign reading "BOUNDARY LINE" hanging from the top strand of wire of a wire fence.
"See," I said, "it looks like the landowner thought that by hanging a "BOUNDARY LINE" sign on that fence every couple hundred feet that it wouldn't matter where the boundary of the land the State owns really is. "That's fine for Wisconsin," I continued, "but who'd want to buy a ranch in Wisconsin?"
"You got that right," she fired back. "When can you start?"
Kent McMillan, RPLS Austin TX
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