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.
Red River Plunge historical marker

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 TexasPlainsTrail.com 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!  
Wellington Pioneer Park
Wellington Pioneer Park (photo courtesy of Collingsworth Historical Museum)
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Collingsworth County

Collingsworth County, TX 
Click to download a map of the Texas Plains Trail Region (pdf) 
ROARING INTO THE RED  On the sweltering, moonlit night of June 10, 1933, a trio of criminals, thinking they were being pursued by the law, sped down the dark highway outside of Wellington, Texas. Ahead a barricade blocked their way, but certain it had been set up by police, they barreled ahead, learning too late that the safety barrier was meant to warn drivers of road construction on the new highway -- and a missing bridge over the Red River. Nearby farmers heard the crash and came to the aid of the unfortunate motorists who had plunged thirty feet down the embankment into the water, where the Ford V-8 rested upside down, a woman pinned beneath it and severely burned. The good Samaritans of Collingsworth County surely suspected the guns and ammunition in the wrecked car meant trouble, but they had no idea until they had pulled the victims to safety that they had just rescued Bonnie and Clyde. Clyde and his henchman ambushed the arriving policemen, kidnapped them, and got away with the injured Bonnie in the Wellington squad car, living to rob and kill again. You can read more about this episode in T. Lindsay Baker's Gangster Tour of Texas, or visit the spot for yourself.

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  30 listings in Collingsworth County.
Click and explore for history on your desktop! 
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Founded  1876   County seat  Wellington
Population  3,057
Communities   Dodson   Quail   Samnorwood   Wellington
Mascots  Wellington Skyrockets

On the Texas Plains Trail DID YOU KNOW?  Quail, Texas, lists a population of 19 souls as of the 2010 US census. But this tiny community was once a bustling town with fifteen businesses, 300 residents, and its own newspaper, the Quail Feather (tshaonline.org). Can you find where the town is celebrated in our anthem, On the Texas Plains Trail?

Collingsworth County courthouse
Collingsworth County courthouse (photo courtesy of Collingsworth County Museum)
Wellington's courthouse square is the heart of this Panhandle city ten miles from the Oklahoma border. A granite obelisk on the square is a relic from the era when the Ozark Trail, a driving route from the 1920s, drew travelers to Arkansas from Texas and points west.

If you're here during business hours, you'll want to visit the Collingsworth County Museum, 824 East Ave., where you'll find artifacts from the region's rich Native American and ranching eras -- as well as exhibits from the Roaring Twenties, the Ritz, and renegades (a couple of items left behind by Bonnie and Clyde after the escapade described above).

Collingsworth County Museum

Be sure to allow some time to explore Wellington's commercial downtown and grab a burger, steak, or Tex-Mex meal for lunch (this region was once the heart of Texas's beef-raising country, after all) -- or pick up a picnic to take out to Wellington's scenic and historic Pioneer Park on the Red River. Although the bridge
here is of recent construction, nine miles east of Wellington on State Route 203 is a surviving
1939 steel-truss bridge that still carries auto traffic.

If there's a film or performance scheduled for the 1928 Ritz Theatre, stick around and buy a ticket. The historic movie house has been reopened since a 2007 restoration.

Wellington Skyrockets, 2013 Texas state football champions
Wellington Skyrockets, 2013 Texas state 2-1A football champions (photo courtesy of Collingsworth County Museum)

You should know that Wellington takes its schools, prep sports, and alumni gatherings seriously. The Skyrockets won the state football championship in their division in 2013. And each August, graduates of all the local schools gather for food, fun, and fellowship in a long-standing tradition.

One of those schools is the historic Booker T. Washington School, the first for African Americans in West Texas. Although its building, now in ruins, was named to Preservation Texas's Most Endangered Places list in 2008, Booker T. Washington lives on fondly in the memory of its former students.

Out in the small community of Samnorwood (pronounce it like the name of its pioneering citizen, Sam W. Norwood), the Oldham family has been farming cotton for more than a century. Today Gary Oldham makes 100% organic cotton T-shirts and other garments for all sizes. Check them out at SOS From Texas.

Keep up with news of the region via the Red River Sun, which combined the former Wellington Leader to serve several area communities as well as Wellington.


If you missed your chance to see cowboy poet Baxter Black at the Ritz last week, well, you have other opportunities to catch a live performance soon. The Frances Schmidt Memorial Concert featuring the Harrington String Quartet and Sara Baumgardner is slated for Sunday, March 29 at 2 pm.

And if you prefer outdoors to in, well, it ain't too long till the annual Wellington Rodeo, held each July.
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  Collingsworth County card
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 info@TexasPlainsTrail.com 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 www.Facebook.com/TexasPlainsTrail
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TX Highway 52 "52" TRIVIA TIME

What Texas standout athletes have worn number 52? Well, how about linebacker Dave Edwards, who played 13 seasons for the Dallas Cowboys from 1963 through 1975, recording 13 interceptions? (www.knowyourdallascowboys.com)

Collingsworth 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 www.DriveTexas.org. 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 is known as the home of the original Marlboro Man -- the cowboy who modeled for the famous ad campaign. Name the county and its seat (where you'll find a museum exhibit dedicated to him) 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 TexasTimeTravel.com 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.