As the legend goes, a group of cowboys, driving 1,500 head of longhorn cattle from south Texas to Kansas, came upon a 200-acre plateau, or mesa, of coveted green grass bordered by a cliff dropping over 100 feet into the White River below. For many years trail folks had used the mesa as a resting grounds while heading north. On this particular run, the cowboys approaching the much anticipated mesa found an old man with about 40 cattle of his own setting up camp for the night. Tired, trail weary, and wishing to avoid confrontation, they asked the old man if he was willing to cut out with his cattle in the morning. The old man, feeling imposed upon by this larger herd, took control of the situation.
While the cowboys slept, save the watch guards, it is believed that the old man caused a stampede out of sheer resentment. The stampede was huge, and only 300 cattle survived. Two of the cowboys were also washed over the cliff with the frantic herd.
When things settled down, the remaining cowboys were not sure what to make of the situation. One of the night watchmen claimed to have seen the old man screaming and waiving a blanket in an attempt to get the cattle going. So, the cowboys went in search of the fleeing antagonist. He was captured shortly thereafter and brought back to the mesa. Put on top of his horse with his hands tied behind his back and a blindfold over his eyes, the old man was pushed over the cliff, and he landed on top of the carnage that resulted from the stampede.
There was uneasiness around the mesa from that point forward. Cattle drivers and travelers alike were no longer so eager to spend the night on the plateau. This once desirable place for trail outfitters acquired a dark reputation and began to be referred to as the "Stampede Mesa." The legend was born. Cowboys would tell of the sound of stampeding cattle, when nothing was there. They witnessed an apparition of a blindfolded man, astride a horse, running over the cliff.
Sightings on the mesa continue today. Campers feel the rumbling of the earth and hear the sounds of crazed cattle coming from somewhere, yet there is nothing to be seen for miles except the wide Texas sky.