In 1904, Mr. Murdo MacKenzie, head of the Matador brand, who had herds from Mexico to Canada, shipped train load after train load of Texas steers to the Standing Rock Reservation so they could graze on the Dakota grass.
A grateful railroad named a town for Murdo and the town was recognized when a lot sales was held on July 12, 1906.
Murdo MacKenzie, destined to become one of the dominant figures in the development of the American cattle industry, was born near Tain, County Ross, Scotland on April 24, 1850. Following graduation from the Royal Academy at Tain in 1867, he served as apprentice in a law office, was employed as a bank clerk and as assistant factor on the estate of Sir Charles Ross. After marrying Isabella MacBain in 1876, he returned to the Tain Bank as an insurance agent.
In this last position he attracted the attention of the Edinburgh syndicate, whose governing board, appointed him manager of the Prairie Cattle Company, Limited, "the mother of British cattle companies". The Prairie Cattle Company, Limited had extensive range holdings in southeastern Colorado, northeastern New Mexico and the panhandle of Texas.
In 1885, the MacKenzie family moved from Scotland to Trinadad, Colorado, where they maintained their home for the next 26 years. As the Prairie's manager in American, MacKenzie supervised the organization's three range divisions, the shipping and marketing of its cattle, and cared for the company's business in the United States. When, in 1890, he was the target of criticism by one of the Prairie's shareholders, MacKenzie decided to resign, even though the Edinburgh board urged him to remain in his position.
Offered several business opportunities, he chose management of the Matador. Thus, began a relationship between the company and the MacKenzie family which was to endure for more than threescore years.
The long awaited and often postponed lot sales of Murdo MacKenzie at last materialized Thursday, July 12, 1906. The sales were opened by C.A. Padley, general land agent for the Milwaukee Co., who stated the terms of the sales and introduced the auctioneer. The price for business lots for inside and corner lots were $200 and $250 respectively.
At about 3 o'clock, C.A. Padley opened the sale with a few remarks on the future of the town. He spoke on her chances for a county seat and railroad division and promised to interceed with the railroad company in our behalf as well. After his remarks, the bidding started off at $100 and moved lively from the start to finish.
Twelve lots on Second Street were reserved to prevent the principle business street from running east and west. First choice was knocked off to G.L. Irwin as a bonus of $525, making a total of $775. After the first six sales, which disposed of the choice corners, the prices gradually lowered.
Murdo was literally a city on wheels, and after the lot sales, there was a race to see who could reach his lot first.
The original buildings were located east of the present Murdo site. Over 40 businesses and serveral residences had been erected prior to the lot sale as fast as lumber arrived. This is how the town got its nickname, The Magic City.
(Taken in part from the Dictionary of American Biography, XXII, 416-17 and from the Murdo Coyote, May 25, 1906.)