Mulkey Theatre, Clarendon
Clarendon's 1946 Mulkey Theatre, once listed among Texas's Most Endangered Places, is coming back, with restored neon marquee and a range of community activities.

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!  
Donley County Safety Rest Area
Donley County's TxDOT Safety Rest Area, on US 287 four miles east of Hedley, is more than a convenient stop for travelers-it's a mini-museum of the area's history and a resource for tourism information.
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Donley County, Texas
Donley County, Texas 
Click to download a map of the Texas Plains Trail Region (pdf) 
in Donley County these days, but only since the 2013 election reversed the prohibition that had stood since the county's earliest days. Before county organization this rolling, stream-watered region along the Salt Fork of the Red River was the domain of Plains Apaches and later Comanches and Kiowas, until the Red River War of 1874-75. The following year Charles Goodnight and John Adair established the JA Ranch, which occupied much of the new county's rangeland. A group of Methodist settlers from New York under the leadership of Lewis Henry Carhart arrived soon after and set up a colony they named Clarendon after Carhart's wife, Clara. The Methodists maintained such strict temperance principles in their new community they earned the mocking nickname of Saints' Roost, a historic holdover the city still celebrates today. The Greenbelt Reservoir, built in 1966 as a municipal water source, attracts recreation and provides a scenic view from the heights along the river. The city of Clarendon is a busy crossroads of US highways and scenic byways, with a community college and a thriving downtown. (Information from
Clara Sully Carhart
Clara Sully Carhart, wife of Clarendon founder L.H. Carhart, was an active supporter of education and music and helped her husband in his religious endeavors. She also helped secure Donley County's early status as a temperance stronghold.
Cornelia Adair
Along with her husband, John Adair, and Col. Charles Goodnight, Cornelia Adair established the legendary JA Ranch and eventually oversaw its operation. She was a great philanthropist for Clarendon, building the Adair Hospital (which now houses the Saints' Roost Museum) in 1910 and a combination municipal and YMCA building in 1918, which now serves as Clarendon's City Hall.

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 Donley County.  Click and explore for history on your desktop! 
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Founded  1876  County seat  Clarendon
Population  3,677

Communities   Clarendon    Hedley    Howardwick     Leila Lake   

Mascots  Clarendon Broncos, Hedley Owls

Alfred Rowe, an Englishman and pioneer Donley County rancher, founder of the RO Ranch, lost his life during the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912.  

Donley County Courthouse, Clarendon, Texas
Donley County Courthouse, Clarendon, Texas
courthouse in the Panhandle, was also the site of the trial that ended in the last legal hanging in the Panhandle, as late as 1909. Today it's a restored Texas Recorded Landmark and the centerpiece of downtown Clarendon. Within a few blocks in each direction of the square are interesting places to walk and visit along brick-paved streets, including the Mulkey Theatre and visitor center, the 1904 S.W. Lowe House, the public library and the Clarendon Enterprise newspaper, numerous eateries and boutiques, and the Saints' Roost
Artifacts from artist and native son Harold Dow Bugbee, Saints' Roost Museum
Cottage Bed-Supper-Breakfast
inn. During the day you'll want to spend some time at the Saints' Roost Museum, south of Clarendon along scenic TX Highway 70, with its rich history of the JA Ranch era housed in the outfit's former hospital, and fascinating exhibits on the area's prehistory, Native American culture, and community, culture, and industry. On the outskirts of town heading north, catch an evening show at the Sandell Drive-in's screen, a hilltop landmark. And you might want to stay over at the Bar H Dude Ranch, a working ranch northeast of Clarendon that treats guests to horseback riding, hiking, biking, chuckwagon dinners, and more.
Saints' Roost Cottage, Clarendon
Saints' Roost Cottage, Clarendon

Clarendon church organ
Fifteen churches call Clarendon home, including the Panhandle's oldest Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal, and African-American congregations.
Goodnight Cookoff

Donley County has lots to do! Mark your calendars for these dates:

JRCA Rodeo, Clarendon, May 8-9
Mulkey Block Party, May 23

Trash To Treasurers Garage Sale Event, June 6

Saints' Roost Celebration, July 2, 3, and 4

Col. Charles Goodnight Chuckwagon Cookoff, Sept. 26  

Left: The Col. Charles Goodnight Chuckwagon Cookoff pays homage to one of the Panhandle's pioneer cattlemen while serving up authentic cowboy cooking. The event is held the fourth Saturday in September and hosted by the Saints' Roost Museum. Photo courtesy of Roger Estlack.  


Members of the Panhandle Tourism Marketing Council -- posing on front of a 1952 Chevrolet pickup in Clarendon -- welcome visitors to historic Clarendon and Donley County!
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  Donley 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 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

What did Texas's travel numbers look like in 1952? The state's population in 1952 was 7.7 million (Texas Almanac, 1952-53). Total mileage of Texas roads in 1952: 198,273 (p 270). There were 3,122,080 motor vehicles registered in the state (p 277). There were 1,492 hotels with 62,972 guest rooms, and 2,016 tourist courts with 30,708 guest rooms (p 315; see fuller description of travel in Texas, pp. 315-317).

Donley 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 county is known for both racing cars and pumpkins. Name the county and its seat to win a prize!
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Hunt for History on Amarillo's Historic Route 66 PARTNER AND DESTINATION REMINDER
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.

On May 2, 2015 (5/2, get it?) we'll be kicking off National Travel & Tourism Week, in our region with a Hunt for History on Route 66 in Amarillo, focusing on the value of tourism to our nation, state, and region. Download your passport and start hunting!

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.