Pampa musical sculpture
Public art in Pampa, Texas: Can you name that tune?
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--once a week 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!  
Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center jam
Musicians of all ages and abilities gather to jam on Friday evenings at the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center in downtown Pampa.
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Gray County, Texas
Gray County, Texas 
Click to download a map of the Texas Plains Trail Region (pdf) 
GRAY COUNTY IS SITUATED AT THE HEAD of the North Fork of the Red River, with flat plains in its west and north and the dramatic Red River breaks in the east, center, and southeast. Prehistoric Plains Apaches, followed by Apaches and later Comanches and Kiowas, roamed here until the Red River War, when Native tribes were forced onto reservation lands to the north, in what was then known as Indian Territory and now the state of Oklahoma. Cattle ranchers such as Perry Lefors established spreads in the area as early as 1877, but in 1882 the Francklyn Land and Cattle Company (and its successor, the White Deer Lands)
Mural. White Deer Land Museum
A mural in Pampa's White Deer Land Museum tells the story of the county's development.
set up huge operations here. The county, carved out of the Bexar District in 1876, was organized in 1902 with Lefors as its seat, about the time that farmers also began to settle in the region, by then well served by railroads. In 1902 White Deer Lands began to sell off its holdings, inciting a land rush into Gray and neighboring Carson Counties. The population grew along with the economy, and by the time oil was struck in the mid-1920s, the county was booming, and its bustling city of Pampa became the county seat in 1928. A healthy petroleum industry partly offset the devastating effects of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in the area. The automobile era brought major US highways, including Route 66 and later the Interstate, along which the towns of Alanreed and McLean are situated. Today these smaller communities, along with Pampa's wide brick streets, elegant buildings, and flourishing retail businesses, continue to draw travelers to appreciate a landscape where they can easily picture the bison herds, cowboys, locomotives, mule-drawn plows, grand hotels, and classic cars of earlier eras. (Information from, Texas Atlas of Historic Sites)

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 48 listings in Gray County. Click and explore for history on your desktop! 
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Founded  1876  County seat  Pampa
Population  22,535

Communities   Lefors   McLean    Pampa  

Mascots  Pampa Harvesters, Pampa Reapers, McLean Tigers, Lefors Pirates

Quanah Parker Trail, Gray County
Gray County has three giant arrow markers in the Quanah Parker Trail -- one at the western end of Pampa on US 60, one adjacent to the Pioneer Cottage and catercorner from the White Deer Land Museum in Pampa, and one in a field in McLean.

Left: Arrow maker Charles A. Smith has plenty of help installing Quanah Parker Trail arrows in Gray County, 2014.

Gray County Courthouse
The Gray County Courthouse in Pampa anchors the city's  
Million Dollar Row. (Moyer Photography)
Pampa Chamber of Commerce
Pampa Chamber of Commerce (Moyer Photography)

Start your Gray County explorations in the county seat of Pampa, whose Million Dollar Row of Beaux Arts-era civic buildings is the heart of a pleasant and walkable downtown. After touring the historic buildings along Pampa's brick-paved streets--including its impressive U.S. Post Office and the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant that now serves as its Chamber of Commerce--hop in your car and drive out TX 70 (Hobart Street) to view the array of sculpture and artwork throughout the city, many of them located in the inviting green spaces along Red Deer Creek (the Chamber can provide a detailed map for you).



Clay mosaic in one of Pampa's city parks
Clay mosaic in one of Pampa's city parks
Outdoor art in one of Pampa's city parks
Outdoor art in one of Pampa's city parks (Moyer Photography)
Coffered ceiling of U.S. post office, Pampa
Coffered ceiling of U.S. post office, Pampa


Circle back downtown and grab lunch at the Coney Island Café, a landmark local enterprise founded in 1933 by Bill Coronis and later, his nephews, Ted and John Gikas. Early on the two young men established a menu with $1.20 hamburgers and $.80 coneys. Your meal might cost slightly more today, but the atmosphere is still the same.


White Deer Land Musuem, Pampa
White Deer Land Musuem, Pampa

A block away is the White Deer Land Museum, located on the main street at 112 S. Cuyler in the two-story restored 1916 office building of the White Deer Land Company. This museum is a treasure trove of artifacts from pioneer days and before, and the history of the founding of Pampa and other area settlements. The annex contains one of the most significant collections of Red River War artifacts in the area. Books and maps of historic sites throughout the county are available to consult. Be sure and take a look at the Pioneer Cottage and the Quanah Parker Trail giant arrow located across the street from the museum (you might have seen another at the city entrance on US 60, if you arrived from the west).


Artifacts on display at White Deer Land Museum
Area archeologists discuss some of their Red River War finds recently displayed at the White Deer Land Museum.
Freedom Museum USA
Freedom Museum USA (Moyer Photography)

If you have a passion for military history, don't miss Freedom Museum USA, located at 600 N. Hobart. Housed in a 1930s City of Pampa water pump station, the museum displays artifacts from military conflicts dating back to the Civil War all the way up to a Mitchell B-25 bomber from WWII, a Vietnam-era, F-4, F105D, a Huey helicopter, a M60 tank that served in Desert Storm, and more. A newly opened special exhibit honors veterans from the Gray County area who served in the Vietnam War.


Music your thing? Don't miss the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center, located on South Cuyler in the former Harris Drug Store building where Woody worked during his time in Pampa and, according to legend, learned to play the guitar. The Center has a wealth of books, recordings, drawings and pictures from Woody's life as well as a performance area for Friday-night jam sessions. Visitors are welcome to play or sing, or just pull up a chair to listen and visit. Come early - the jam opens at 6:30.

Wody Guthrie Folk Music Center
Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center, Pampa


Call ahead if you would like to stay in the Woody Guthrie Inn, a small bed and breakfast just down the street.


As you leave Pampa, grab your map of historic sites, which will take you through Lefors and down to McLean, where more history awaits. The Devil's Rope and Route 66 Museum tells the story of barbed wire, the invention that changed ranching forever, and chronicles the automobile era along this historic highway. The nearby Alanreed Historical Museum is dedicated to the history of the region. Stop over for a bite of dinner at the Red River Steakhouse. And when you're ready to get back on the road, you'll find rest, relaxation, and travel information at the Gray County Safety Rest Areas along Interstate 40 -- museums of local history in their own right. 


Alanreed Historical Museum, McLean
Alanreed Historical Museum
Gray County landscape
Burnin' the Bricks Car Show
Burnin' the Bricks Car Show (Moyer Photography)

June 13: 12th Annual Burnin' the Bricks car show, held on the historic brick streets of Pampa.

July 4: Pampa celebrates its annual fireworks celebration at sundown at Recreation Park, US 60 east of Pampa.

July 19-23: 81st Annual Tri-State Seniors Golf Tournament

August 6-8: Top O' Texas Rodeo


Top o' Texas Rodeo parade
The Top o' Texas Rodeo takes place in Pampa each August. (Moyer Photography)
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  Gray County playing 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

Did you graduate from Pampa High School Class of 1952? Check out your yearbook here on!

Gray 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 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.

Congratulations to all our weekly winners so far. We have only a few of these collectible poster sets to give away!

One native son who "hales" from the seat of next week's county is famous for both sausage and song. Be the first to name the man, the city, and the county 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.

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.