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Past Adventures

Texas Panhandle 2006 - Part I

The sights include :  You guessed it, more Texas Courthouse Photos; More Texas Roadside Attractions; the White Buffalo of Snyder; the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum; the Rock and Fossil Hunt near Ralls; TX, the Cows of Plainview, TX; the Mule Museum in Muleshoe?, the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, Post, TX, Dan Blocker/Hoss Cartwright Bust, the Lubbock Lake Landmark Archeological Site; the Silent Wings Museum in Lubbock; Quitaque Rocks and Fossils.

Forward : (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)

          Spring Break 2006!  More time off from school, but what to do?  I had been doing some research on things to see back in the Texas Panhandle the next time I was up there such as the Lubbock Landmark Lake Archeological Site, the Alibates Flint National Monument and a few others.  Sure, it was Spring break, but still not a lot of time.  So I phoned Buddy Bill up to see if he would be interested in meeting me up there since he's a Texas archeology buff.  Plans were made and set in stone.  At least it was better than playing golf all day for a weekOr was it?

          So, hang on to your armchair, here we go again!  Oh yea, I still needed to get more of those Texas County courthouse photos.  So bear with me.....

Star Date 03/14/2006 - Tuesday

The Long Drive Up :

          I took off very early around 3:30 am in the morning.  I headed out on Hwy 36, a real sucky highway when evacuating from a hurricanes, and traveled north to I-10 and then headed west.  By the time I was west of San Antonio, I had beat the rush hour traffic.  I continued west on I-10 until I reached Junction, TX and stopped for my first break and to re-fuel again.  From Junction, I headed north on Hwy 83 to Eden, TX and then Hwy 87 north to San Angelo.  After consulting my map again, I decided to head north on Hwy 208 and traveled through Colorado City and made my first official stop in Snyder, TX.  Well that route was a big mistake due to some idiot up ahead.  I finally got around the accident and made it into Snyder.

          But why Snyder?  Why for their big famous white buffalo statue.  Ok, here's the story :

. J. Wright Mooar and his brother John W. Mooar established the first buffalo hunting camp in the Texas Panhandle in 1873. Wright killed a rare albino buffalo (one of two known killed in Texas) in Scurry county on October 7, 1876. Mooar shot about 22,000 buffalo, a record probably unsurpassed. His ability to hit a vital spot from a distance of 1,000 feet or farther won the respect of Comanche Indian Chief Quanah Parker, a friend in later life. The Mooar brothers began ranching in Scurry county in 1877 and Wright became known as Scurry county's No. 1 citizen. (1997)

          Well, there you go and now you know.  But, if you don't believe me.....  By the way, Snyder is the county seat of Scurry country.  From Scurry, I also picked up the following Texas county courthouse photos :

Scurry County Courthouse - Snyder, TX

Fisher County Courthouse - Roby, TX

Jones County Courthouse - Anson, TX

Haskell County courthouse - Haskell, TX

Stonewall County Courthouse - Aspermont, TX

Kent County Courthouse - Jayton, TX

Crosby County Courthouse - Crosbyton, TX

     The Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum :

          I spoke with Chad a few months back and he was all excited about returning from his trip to the Texas Panhandle.  He stated that he saw a really cool fossil shop in Crosbyton.  After getting the courthouse photo, I looked around town and found the fossil shop, errr, I mean the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum right off of Hwy 82/114.

          The first thing one notices when you walk in, is the huge mastodon skull.  I continued to walk around view all the cool artifacts and finally found the rest of the mastodon that I saw earlier.  I found one of the hosts of the museum who directed me to Joe Taylor, the star of the show here.  Joe is not only the owner and proprietor of this little gem of a museum, but also prepares these fossils for display here and for around the country.  Joe showed me around a bit including some new items he was preparing such as this buffalo skull with a hole in its front.  Joe explained to me that the Indians had used the natural chemicals in the brains of the buffalo in the processing or the tanning of the hides.  Joe also stated that he was an album cover artist in his earlier days and has quite a few of his artwork also on display.  They do have a gift shop where one can buy real and recreated fossils, however, I was running low on time and said my good-byes.  I need to remember this place, so I can spend more time here, the next time I'm up!  For more information of the gem of a museum, please see the link below :

The Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum

     Ralls Fossil/Rock Hunt :

          I wasn't lying to Joe, I really needed to leave while I still had light to check out the Ralls Rock & Fossil site as described by Melinda Crow in her book Texas rock collecting book.  From Crosbyton, I continued west on Hwy 82 and in Ralls, TX I turned south on Hwy 207 and traveled approximately 13 miles to the first road cut at the following GPS coordinates :

                    First Stop :

33 27.520 N and 101 23.191 W

                    Second Stop :

33 28.556 N and 101 23.489 W

           Melinda states that this area is the southern edge of the Ogallala gravel beds, a deposit of cobble formation made up of eroded material from the Rocky Mountains.   I did find the usual purplish panhandle quartzite which I plan to tumble polish and the only fossilized material I found was a piece of petrified wood which I will also tumble polish.  I never saw any evidence of Lower Cretaceous fossils as mentioned by Melinda.  However, I'm not saying there aren't any either.  I really didn't find this site very productive and I would not go back to it.

          After the brief rock hunt stop, I headed back to Ralls, TX and continued north on Hwy 82 to Floydada, the county seat of :

Floyd County Courthouse - Floydada, TX

           At this point, I really did loose the light.  Although I drove pretty fast, I had to watch out.  The last time I was out here, I got a speeding ticket.  So I continued north on Hwy 70 to Plainview, TX and found my lodgings for the night.   I made my self a snack and called up Bill to see when he would be coming in the next day.  Thus ends day one of this adventure!

Star Date 03/15/2006 - Wednesday

     The Plainview Cows :

          Burrr, they sure have cold mornings here.  I spoke to Bill the night before and he stated that he wouldn't be due to arrive until this evening.  Therefore, I wasted no time in exploring the area further.  Of coarse the first stop was the :

Hale County Courthouse - Plainview, TX

On the way to their courthouse, I noticed something strange but interesting here.  Cows!!!   Painted Cows!!!   Even on the courthouse lawn :

Courthouse Cow # 1     Courthouse Cow # 2

I hurried on down to their Chamber of Commerce to see what was up and of coarse I found more cows and then a cow map to the city :

Chamber of Commerce Cow # 1     Chamber of Commerce Cow # 2

I continued on throughout the city in search of more painted cows :

The DQ Cow     The Kiser CarQuest Auto Parts Cow     The Moonopoly Cow    

The Texas Taco Cow     The Yellow Pages Cow

According to their map, there are plenty more cows to look for.  I wanted to move on, so if your ever in Plainview, grab yourself a cow map and knock yourself out!  They're real easy to find.

          From Plainview, I headed out west on Hwy 70 and came to my next stop in Muleshoe, TX, the county seat of :

Bailey County Courthouse - Muleshoe, TX

           Not only is Muleshoe the county seat for Bailey County, but is home to the Muleshoe Mule Museum as John Kelso, author of Texas Curiosities, calls it.  Sorry John, this ain't really no museum, just their Chamber of Commerce.  But like you did say, they do have a tribute to the working mule beast of burden from their mule statue nearby on the chamber's patio/deck.

           From Muleshoe, TX,  I traveled south on Hwy 214 and passed through the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge.  The only animals I saw needing protection were all the dead owls as I saw as road kill.  Plus some poor hawks.

           I moved on and continued to collect the following Texas courthouse photos :

Cochran County Courthouse - Morton, TX

Yoakum County Courthouse - Plains, TX

Gaines County Courthouse - Seminole, TX

Andrews County Courthouse - Andrews, TX

Dawson County Courthouse - Lamesa, TX

Borden County Courthouse - Gail, TX

     While in Lamesa, I stopped by the ole' Skive Outdoor Movie Theater in which they have a most unusual menu item, the Famous Chihuahua Sandwich.  Ok, its made up of two fried corn tortillas filled with chili meat, jalapenos, shredded cabbage, onion and pimento cheese.  You better bring a towel to eat this one.

After leaving Gail, I traveled north on Hwy 669 and passed through the Double Mt. Fork of the Brazos RiverIt is here, where the mighty Brazos River begins its journey.  Then, the river ends here..... 

          I soon reached Post, TX.  Not only is Post, TX the county seat of :

Garza County Courthouse - Post, TX

But, was founded by the great C.W. Post, the inventor of the Post cereals.  So the next time your in Post, pour yourself another bowl.  Hum, I'm getting hungry.  Where's my sandwich at?

          From Post, TX, I then traveled west to Tahoka, TX  which is the county seat of :

Lynn County Courthouse - Tahoka, TX

          Just south of Tahoka, off of Hwy 87, was O'Donnell, TX, home town of Dan Blocker A.K.A, Hoss Cartwright from the Bonanza TV series.  His hometown just loves him.

          At this point, I was growing tired and had just enough light to obtain the next two courthouse photos :

Terry County Courthouse - Brownfield, TX

Hockley County Courthouse - Level-land, TX

           From Level-land, I took Hwy 114 east into Lubbock.  It was good to be in the big city again, but, as I then headed north on I-27 back to Plainview, I soon found myself back in the countryside once again.  I made my way back to Plainview and waited for Buddy Bill's arrival.  Once he arrived, we ordered out for food.  Thus ends day two of the adventure. 

Star Date 03/16/2006 - Thursday

     Lubbock's Landmark Lake Archeological Site :

          "Damn, why do we have to wake up so early, Lubbock is just down the road" exclaimed Bill.  "Heck Bill, we got more Texas county courthouse photos to take before before getting there" I yelled back.  "Hell, that's the reason I waited two days to get up here, so I could avoid all that", replied Bill.  "Well, its just a few on the long way to get there."  "Just get ready and let's get on the road", I said.  So we piled everything in the car and off we went heading north on I-27 to Tulia for the :

Swisher County Courthouse - Tulia, TX

          Then we picked up the following before arriving into Lubbock :

Castro County Courthouse - Dimmitt, TX

Lamb County Courthouse - Littlefield, TX

          We finally made it into Lubbock and made a few bad turns, I could just kick myself, but we finally found Lubbock Lake Landmark.  They have a real nice visitor center complete with great dioramas and archeological displays :

Visitor Center Display - Great Resource for Texas Archeological Study.

One of Several Dioramas - Depicting Paleo to modern Indian life on the plains.

          After the tour of the exhibits, which reminds me of the archeological section of the Panhandle-Plains Historic Museum up in Canyon, TX, we headed out to the walking trails around the ancient lake bed.  Along the trail paths, were statues of the ancient animals that were found on that very spot :

Ancient Lake Landmark Bear

Ancient Lake Landmark Buffalo

Ancient Landmark Elephant

We were even able to view, behind a fence of coarse, one of the dig sites currently being excavated.  After walking a paved trail or two, our time here was done.  Like I said earlier, this place reminds me of the archeological section of the Panhandle-Plains Museum, but on a smaller scale.  I guess we were expecting more, but it still is worth a visit, especially when it was free!  For more information on this site, please see the links below.  I also included the Panhandle-Plains Historic Museum :

Lubbock Landmark Lake Archeological site

Panhandle-Plains Historic Museum

     The Silent Wings Museum :

          I had noticed from yesterday's adventure on my way back to Plainview, that the Silent Wings Museum had been moved from Terrell, TX to the old Lubbock International Airport.  I repeat, the old airport.  I told Bill about it and so we headed back north again and entered the old airport grounds north of Lubbock off of  I-27

          Before entering the museum, we were first greeting by an artwork mosaic of their patch/badge from WWII.  First, a few words to prepare you for this little mini tour of the facility :

          During WWII, glider pilots were trained throughout Texas and other areas of the country to fly especially equipped gliders into battle during the invasions of both Europe and Southeast Asia.  These gliders not only carried men, but heavy equipment as well.  Even the British had their own Glider Corps.  The museum highly reminded me of the South Pacific War Museum in Fredericksburg.  Of coarse they had the usual obligatory movie that one must watch before entering the rest of the museum.  Below are a few photos on what to be seen there :

WWII Small Arms Display

Period Uniforms of the Troops.

Yes, It Transported that Bulldozer.

And, the Jeep and Cannon.

You had to Train in one of these before you got to fly.....

One of these!!!!

Parts of the British Glider Version.

The New Lubbock International Airport form the Museum's Perspective.

This was a nice little museum and I highly recommend going to it.  In the future, they will be displaying a C-47, the plane that propelled them into the skies, out front and they should soon complete the build-out of that British glider.  Look for it in the future and for more information, please see the link below :

The Silent Wings Museum

     Gravels Near Quitaque :

          We still had some daylight left, so I suggested another rock hunt near Quitaque.  This is another site described in Melinda's book.  We hit the road east on Hwy 54 and continued east on Hwy 70 to Matador, the county seat of

Motley County Courthouse - Matador, TX

Yea, I know, it's beginning to get confusing with a Hwy 70 running east and west, and, another Hwy 70 running north and southJust stick to you map and you should do just fine.  Ok, from Matador, we traveled north on Hwy 70 and then west of Hwy 97 through Flomot, TX to the intersection of CR 1065 which take you north to Quitaque.  Just passed this intersection were the road cuts we stopped at :

33 28.556 N and 101 23.489 W

     We picked around at one of the road cuts and found a few interesting pieces to take home including some petrified wood.  Again it was the usual Ogalala gravel mix.  However, if you are interested in milky quartz, there tons of it at this site.  We were losing our light, so we headed back to our lodgings in Plainview.  If in the area again, I would probably come back and give this site another visit since we really didn't spend a lot of time there.

          Ok folks, is it time for a break.  Pour yourself another cup of coffee or grab a soda, snack, or whatever you are into and come back to the rest of the adventure for the Texas Panhandle 2006 - Part II.

       So, until next time, take care and I'll  See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!

                                                     Francis                        

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 Copyright 1999 by [The Texas Road Runners - Francis Kiefel]. All rights reserved.