Dalhart Consumers grain elevator, 2008
|Motto: "The XIT City"|
Dalhart is a city in Dallam and Hartley counties in the U.S. state of Texas, and the county seat of Dallam County. The population was 7,930 at the2010 census.
Dalhart's economy is centered around agribusiness, including farming, ranching, feedlot operations, large scale pig farms, and, more recently a cheese processing plant. Dalhart is also home to a state prison.
During the peak operating period of the XIT Ranch, the land was in native grass. Some land was diverted into dry farmland, but there was insufficient rain to make it productive. A few irrigation wells were drilled in areas where the soil was not sandy and was level enough for row irrigation. Later, center pivot irrigation, credited to Texas panhandle farmer Frank Zybach in 1949, was introduced and was found to be ideal for the area's rolling sandy soils. About the same time frame, large feedlots were built due to the low-humidity climate. This created a good market for corn, which is the major crop grown by farmers in the area.
In the mid-2000s, a combination of tax incentives, Texas' relatively unrestricted environmental regulations and Dalhart's existing agricultural infrastructure attracted industrial dairy farms to the city's economic sphere. In 2007, Hilmar Cheese Company of California capitalized on the resulting milk availability, opening a major production plant in Dalhart. Texas Governor Rick Perry visited Dalhart to speak at the company's official welcoming ceremony, reiterating the company's projection that 2000 new jobs would be created in the region by the emerging dairy product production industry. This factory and the surrounding dairies are a significant emerging subsector of Dalhart's established agribusiness culture.
The international agribusiness company Cargill owns a 21,500-acre hog production site near Dalhart.
Dalhart is also known as the "XIT City" because of its relationship with the historic XIT Ranch. The ranch was a 3,000,000-acre (12,000 km2) plot of land traded in exchange for the construction of the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The ranch was dissolved in 1912, but its history is celebrated with the city's XIT Museum and the XIT Rodeo and Reunion. Held annually on the first full Thursday through Sunday weekend of August, the event includes the world's largest free barbecue, junior rodeoas well as Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events, three nights of live music, and a variety of other offering to celebrate the occasion. The Empty Saddle Monument, located at the crossroads of Dalhart, was constructed in 1940 at the request of Bobby Dycke, the wife of a ranch hand, to recognize the contribution of the XIT cowboys to the history of the region.
The Muscle Car Party Weekend is held each year in May, and includes a classic car show, bicycle drag races and dinner and dance. The events is sponsored by the Dalhart Cruzers Car Club and each year the club raffles a classic car.