Each week of our 52-County Tour we'll send a duplicate of Wednesday's newsletter (ignore if you've already read it) with any updates here.
Childress mural

Childress mural: Childress Army Airfield trained bombardiers during World War II.
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.
The Kidnapper's Foil still
Watch The Kidnapper's Foil, filmed in Childress, Texas, with a local cast in 1948 (courtesy Texas Archive of the Moving Image).

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!  
Bird's-eye view of Childress, Texas, 1890
Bird's-eye view of Childress, Texas, 1890. Read more
about this early portrayal in the Amon Carter Museum's account of the city's history.
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Childress County

Click to download a map of the Texas Plains Trail Region (pdf) 
THE TOWN THAT CHANGED ITS NAME   Today the Childress County seat of Childress, the "Gateway to the Panhandle," is a thriving Main Street city situated at the intersection of three major US highways, 287, 62, and 83. But it almost didn't work out that way. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, Childress "developed out of two separate townsites, Childress City and Henry, which were platted about four miles apart on land previously occupied by the OX Ranch. When Childress County was organized upon the arrival of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway in February 1887, the two towns contested for the position of county seat. In the first election, held on April 11, 1887, Childress City, which already had three businesses, won the honor. A wooden courthouse was built under the supervision of Amos J. Fires, the 'Dean of the Panhandle Lawyers.' However, the Donley County Court (to which Childress County was attached for judicial purposes at the time) canvassed the election and declared it illegal. R. E. Montgomery, the railroad's right-of-way and townsite agent, had always favored Henry as the county seat because of the rougher terrain at Childress City, which he claimed would prevent the railroad from building a depot there. Significantly, he had also purchased half the property in Henry. After the court's action, Montgomery proposed that the railroad give those owning lots in Childress City lots in Henry. Furthermore, when Henry was chosen county seat in another election, the company offered to change the name of Henry to Childress. Fires and his associates agreed to this compromise, and the businesses and residences were moved to the new Childress by September 1887." Oh, and about that appellation? Both city and county are named for Tennessee native George Childress, the principal architect of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
1891 Childress County courthouse, in a 1909 postcard
1891 Childress County courthouse,
in a 1909 postcard
1939 (current) Childress County courthouse
1939 (current) Childress County courthouse

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  34 listings in Childress County.
Click and explore for history on your desktop! 
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Founded  1876   County seat  Childress 
Population  7,041
Communities   Carey  Childress  Tell
Mascots  Childress Bobcats

Last American Highway DID YOU KNOW?  As a highway that runs from the northernmost border of Texas to the state's southern tip, US Highway 83, at 897 miles, is the longest highway (Interstates excepted) in any state. (Thanks to author Stew Magnuson of The Last American Highway blog for this information.)

is one Texas county seat along US83 that shares the same name of its county. Only one reader from last week picked up on the fact that it's not the only one: Wheeler, just to the north, also holds this distinction. Congratulations to highway historian Dan L. Smith of Fort Worth for spotting this! Dan, your THC posters are on the way.

Tunnel under railroad, Childress
Tunnel under railroad, Childress
As you come into downtown Childress, make your first stop the Childress County Heritage Museum, 210 3rd Street. Exhibits will help put the history of city, county, and region into perspective and prepare you for a walking or driving tour of this Texas Main Street city. You'll come to appreciate the key role that transportation has always played in Childress County, and still does today, with the city's regular road and rail traffic.

Palace Theater, Childress, Texas What might not be as obvious -- but is nonetheless important --is Childress's rich history of the moving image. You'll see the restored facade of the art deco Palace Theater on Main Street. It's a work in progress, with local champions restoring the movie house to its former grandeur. Back in the 1930s, an itinerant filmmaker by the name of Melton Barker passed through Childress, staying long enough to cast local citizens in the roles of The Kidnapper's Foil, a movie he made in many locations across the nation from the 1930s to the 1970s. Barker repeated the stunt in Childress in 1948. You can view surviving versions of the film -- and perhaps pick out a familiar face or two -- online. Today, Childress still actively pursues commercial film productions in partnership with the Texas Film Commission.

Downtown Childress, Texas You'll want to spend some time shopping downtown, and just strolling the sidewalks along wide, brick-paved streets, before heading to the highway for a scrumptious meal at the Childress Bakery Sandwich Shop, Dawson's, G10's Ranch House, K-Bob's, JT's Drive-in, Maxey's Steahouse, Unos Tacos, or the Wired Rabbit -- just to name a few of the many popular eateries along Ave. F (US 287). You won't lack for overnight accommodations in this regional hub city, either.

A drive through the rolling, elevated countryside will take you past ranches and cotton fields, a landscape traversed occasionally by the Tour d'Cotton bicycle ride. The communities of Carey and Tell tell their own stories through a handful of Texas historical markers.

Russell Graves One final way to get the picture of this popular hunting and fishing destination is through the work of local author, photographer, and videographer Russell Graves. If you've perused any Texas-based publications over the past twenty-five years, chances are you've encountered his work. Out on the rural back roads of Childress, you just might encounter this Texas original face to face. Tell him we said hi.

Old photo of the Jones homestead, childress
Keep up with news of the region via the Red River Sun, which combined the former Childress Index to serve several area communities as well as Childress.


The Childress Old Settlers Rodeo has been held each July for more than 125 years. In 2015, the rodeo will benefit from the construction of a brand-new multi-purpose event center.
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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

The fifty-second day of the year is February 21 (in 2015, this coming Saturday). 

Childress County license tag
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 share.

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.

Next week's location celebrates its heritage as Texas's Last Frontier. Name the county and its seat to win a set of posters!

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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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Texas Plains Trail Region | 806.747.1997 | E-mail | Website
Barbara A. Brannon, Executive Director

Copyright 2015 Texas Plains Trail Region. All Rights Reserved.