Carson County roadside sights and sites (photos by Rick Vanderpool)
Texas Fifty-Two-Step Tour

THE 52-COUNTY TEXAS PLAINS TRAIL is the largest of the ten Heritage Trails Regions of Texas, an award-winning heritage tourism initiative of the Texas Historical Commission. We help you discover the real places that tell the real stories of Texas--places you'll want to explore on vacations, road trips, hikes, weekend excursions with your family and friends.

We invite you to join us throughout 2015 for our Texas Fifty-Two-Step Tour--every Wednesday online, and in person whenever you're ready to hit the road! Follow along with a different county each week, from Armstrong to Yoakum. Visit us at to plan your adventure by city, site, theme, or event. Watch your e-mail newsletter weekly for fun facts, games, prizes, and travel ideas.

Download our THC regional travel guide here (pdf). And we'll see you along the trail!  
Carson County schoolchildren watch installation of Quanah Parker Trail giant arrow marker in Panhandle
Carson County schoolchildren watch installation of Quanah Parker Trail giant arr
ow marker in Panhandle, Texas
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Carson County TX

Carson County TX 
Click to download a map of the Texas Plains Trail Region (pdf) 
RANCHING, RAILROADS, AND ROADSIDE HISTORY    Smack in the middle of the upper Texas Panhandle, Carson County has long been a crossroads of travel and history in American life. Today the longest stretch of preserved Route 66 roadway in Texas can be found in Conway, east of Amarillo, But long before that, prehistoric hunters and then Plains Apaches arrived. Modern Apaches followed them but were displaced by Comanches, who dominated the region until the 1870s. Soon after, ranches like the JA Ranch and the Turkey Track spread across the land, and speculators such as Charles G. Francklyn purchased large tracts of railroad lands for ranching and farming. The Southern Kansas Railway and the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway brought lines into the county, increasing its role in agricultural transportation. During World War II, the Pantex Ordance Plant was established on remote, flat land in the southwestern part of Carson County; by By the 1980s Pantex had become the only nuclear assembly plant in the country. This varied heritage is captured at the Carson County Square House Museum, which graces the preserved brick streets of downtown Panhandle.

Texas Historical Commission HISTORICAL MARKERS AND SITES   The Texas Historical Commission's online Texas Historical Sites Atlas  guides you to locations and information on museums, cemeteries, military sites, historical markers, national register properties, and more--including  67 listings in Carson County.
Click and explore for history on your desktop! 
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Founded  1876   County seat  Panhandle   Population  6,182
Communities   Groom    Panhandle    Skellytown    White Deer
DID YOU KNOW?  Carson County is the location of Pantex, now the United States' only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly plant. (Congratulations to several readers who emailed us with this correct answer to last week's trivia quiz!)

Carson County Square House Museum 
Carson County Square House
Museum (photo by Linda Germany)
Start your jaunt across Carson County in the middle, at the Square House Museum in the county seat of Panhandle. Plan to spend a good bit of time at this 21-building complex, where you can visit a caboose, a calaboose, and a beautifully restored community church.

Panhandle's a wonderful place to shop and walk around, with several inviting boutiques along its brick-paved streets, an imposing courthouse square, and a repurposed Santa Fe train depot that serves as government offices. You'll see plenty of big freight trains paralleling US Highway 60. Cross the tracks to visit Carson County's giant arrow marker on the Quanah Parker Trail.

Taking TX 207 due south, you'll soon intersect with one of the nation's most historic
Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, Groom (photo by Linda Germany)
Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, Groom (photo by Linda Germany)
thoroughfares -- historic Route 66, now superseded by Interstate 40. Carson County boasts some wonderful Route 66 landmarks, including the VW Slug Bug Ranch in Conway and the Britten leaning water tower and the 190-foot-tall Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Groom.
Groom, Texas
Groom, Texas

Panhandle Museum Day jellies
Homemade treats are in abundance at Panhandle's Museum Day annual fundraiser
White Deer statue (photo by Rick Vanderpool)
White Deer statue (photo by Rick Vanderpool)

Or travel northeast on US 60 toward Pampa, and you'll come to the historic town of White Deer.
The statue of a white deer was erected in the center of Main Street in White Deer in the spring of 1918 -- the original idea of resident R. A. Thompson with the assistance of a few early settlers. A transient concrete fabricator came through White Deer anxious for work and contracted with Mr. Thompson and others to erect the statiue for a sum of $100, and in booming ecnomic times a handful of local business leaders raised the money in less than thirty minutes.


In White Deer each fall, the descendants of Polish settlers celebrate their heritage at an annual Sausage Festival, held at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Also in the fall, Panhandle's annual Museum Day, benefiting the Carson County Square House Museum, turns out a crowd of several hundred for a barbecue lunch, history presentation, silent auction and bake sale, and other fun activities.
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  Carson County
Our Texas Fifty-Two-Step Deck of Cards is a sweet deal to help plan your trip. Pre-order yours now--each face summarizes a different county's travel highlights. $5.95 per deck (plus tax & shipping), in custom tuck box. Keep a deck in the glove compartment. Or use them in your favorite game of Texas Hold 'Em or Fifty-Two-Card Pickup!

Retailers and Texas Plains Trail partners, please contact us at 806.747.1997 or for bulk sales and shipping.

Flat 52 Car Cutout As you travel the 52 counties of the Texas Plains Trail Region, take our Plains Trail kids and dog along with you -- in our #C52NTX 1952 DeSoto Ragtop (pdf). Download and print the graphic on heavy paper on your own color printer. Cut along the dashed line. Then glue a stir stick or popsicle stick to the back -- and feature it in your photos of destinations all around the region. Along the way, share your pix to
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TX Highway 52 "52" TRIVIA TIME  Reacting to the Korean conflict, 1952 Chevy ad civilian automobile production was cut in 1952, causing all automakers to post considerably smaller totals. Even with only 818,142 cars built, Chevrolet again scored well ahead of Ford, with Plymouth and Buick trailing far behind. The Chevy sedan came with an optional radio -- for $64. (Auto.HowStuffWords; Wikipedia)

Carson County license plate
Like us on Facebook for regular event and travel updates. "See 52 in Texas" and discover great destinations by following our #C52NTX hashtag on Twitter, and statewide travel info on #TexasToDo. For driving and weather conditions, visit And please with your Texas traveling friends!
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Texas Time Travel posters
It's quiz time! We've got great prizes to give away.

To win a full set of these attractive 24 x 30 Texas Heritage Trails posters, suitable for framing, be the first to email us with the correct identification of this place, located in next week's featured county.

A concrete obelisk marks the route of this historic auto route through next week's county. What was the name of the highway, and in what city is the marker located?

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Partners, do take this opportunity to review your community, site, and event information on our Texas Plains Trail website as well as your own sites. We'll want to add your photos, update any obsolete contact info, add your events, and enhance your text content before your week comes up.  Consult the Texas Fifty-Two-Step schedule (pdf), and email with me with updates or questions.

Did you know you can add your own events to the website? You'll need event name, date and time, location and address, and contact info -- and for best results, a photo. Post your festivals and heritage events now!

Like those Texas Fifty-Two-Step county license plate graphics? They are available free to partners for promotional use. Click and scroll down to select, then download your desired images. Please credit Texas Plains Trail/Tomato Graphics.

Our campaign has been designed by a team of creative minds. Our thanks go to Rock Langston of Tomato Graphics, Amarillo, for the design of campaign components and to Stephanie Price of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, for the #C52NTX concept. Barbara Brannon is responsible for copywriting and the weekly newsletter. Photo credits: 1952 blue Chevy Styleline, Hemmings Motor News; 1952 red DeSoto, Daniel Schmitt & Co.; 1952 blue Chevy rear 3/4 view, Walt Pinkston.

Be watching for an announcement about our May 2, 2015 (5/2, get it?) tourism event to kick off National Travel & Tourism Week, focusing on the value of tourism to our nation, state, and region.

Every week's issue is archived on our website. Click here and scroll to search and download your county!
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Yep, sometimes in traveling 52 counties we get our facts wrong. Residents of Briscoe County were quick to point out that there is no Dairy Queen in the county seat of Silverton (it's likely our mistaken notes came from one of the nearby towns of Lockney, Plainview, or Floydada). In Silverton, be sure to check our the Malt Shop and Something Different instead. Our apologies for the misinformation!
Texas Plains Trail Region | 806.747.1997 | E-mail | Website
Barbara A. Brannon, Executive Director

Copyright 2015 Texas Plains Trail Region. All Rights Reserved.