The Land Report

Winter 2010

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100 TheLandReport Gerald Lyda 1923-2005 Our heroes have always been cowboys— men such as this hardworking landowner. certainly that’s the case with Gerald Lyda, the self-made man who forged the La Escalera brand. Lyda’s roots in the cattle business ran deep. His grandfather, Gideon Paloris Lyda, worked as foreman on Thomas Lyons and Angus Campbell’s LC Ranch near Silver City, New Mexico. Lyda himself was born and raised in Burnet County, Texas. At 10, a combination of factors, including his mother’s death and the foreclosure of the family farm, left the youngster on his own. And like so many others in the Old West, he made ends meet by working cattle and breaking horses. World War II changed Lyda’s fortune. He learned the A t the heart of most every legendary Texas ranch is an iconic landowner, and The Lyda organization became one of Texas’s largest general contractors and was instrumental in the construction of the Tower of the Americas and many of the major HemisFair ‘68 structures. Lyda’s success allowed him to Trey Lyda took this photograph of his grandfather, Gerald Lyda, at roundup on La Escalera. return to his first love: ranching. During his lifetime he bought and sold more than 900,000 acres in the Southwest. From 1985 to 1992, he owned New Mexico’s 380,000-acre Ladder Ranch, which he sold to Ted Turner. He then acquired the 100-year-old Elsinore Ranch south of Fort Stockton, Texas. La Escalera, which takes its carpenter trade and hired on with a large El Paso-based general contractor. He got construction jobs not only in Texas but in Colorado and Utah as well. Thanks to Buck Steiner at Capitol Saddlery, he even studied the fine art of saddlemaking. To support his wife and young sons, Lyda put aside his cowboy ways and dedicated himself to the construction business. He mentored under H. Alvin Lott and joined Farnsworth & Chambers, which was constructing the University of Texas’s Memorial Stadium in Austin. By 1960, he formed his own San Antonio-based construction company. name from the Spanish word for ladder, is now one of the largest working cattle ranches in Texas. It has grown to 320,000 deeded acres in Pecos, Reeves, Brewster, Archer, and Baylor Counties. Today, sons Gerald D. and Gene along with their sister, Jo Granberg, now run La Escalera. Though it’s best known for its Black Angus, the family is also establishing the ranch as an envi- ronmentally conscious operation, thanks to water distribution systems, brush control programs, and irrigated farmland. “We honor the hard work and dedication that our father and mother put into La Escalera Ranch,” says Gerald D. Lyda. “We look forward to passing the ranch to a third generation of family members, so that they can enjoy what God has so graciously placed in our stewardship.” By Nancy Myers 64 TheLandReport | WINTER 2010 LANDREPORT.COM

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