Autumn sunrise over caprock canyonlands, Hall County, Texas
Autumn sunrise over caprock canyonlands, Hall County, Texas
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!  
Memphis is a busy crossroads of highways and rail lines.
Memphis is a busy crossroads of highways and rail lines.
Car content divider

Hall County, Texas
Hall County, Texas 
Click to download a map of the Texas Plains Trail Region (pdf) 
LARGE AND POWERFUL RANCHES dominated the landscape of Hall County in the 1870s and 1880s, including the Lazy F, the Shoe Bar, the Diamond Tail, the Bar 96, the Mill Iron, and parts of the JA. But the arrival of the Fort Worth and Denver Railway brought settlers, and farming soon displaced cattle ranching in the area. The new railroad town of Memphis beat out candidates Lakeview and Salisbury to be the county seat in 1890. Settlers arrived and business thrived until the dust bowl years, when Hall County's population shrank drastically. Memphis today is a regional retail hub of this area of rolling plains and scenic river breaks; surrounding communities each tell their chapter of the local story.
(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 29 listings in Hall County. Click and explore for history on your desktop! 
Car content divider

Founded  1876
County seat  Memphis
Population  3,353

Communities    Brice, Estelline, Lakeview, Lesely, Memphis,  Newlin, Plaska, Parnell, Turkey 

Mascots  Memphis Cyclones, Valley Patriots (Turkey-Quitaque) 

Bob Wills James Robert Wills (March 6, 1905 - May 13, 1975), better known as Bob Wills, was an American Western swing musician, songwriter, and bandleader. Considered by music authorities as the co-founder of Western swing, he was universally known as the King of Western Swing (after the death of Spade Cooley who used the moniker "King 0f Western Swing" from 1942 to 1969.)

He was born on a farm near Kosse, Texas, in Limestone County near Groesbeck, to Emma Lee Foley and John Tompkins Wills. His father was a statewide champion fiddle player[7] and the Wills family was either playing music, or someone was "always wanting us to play for them," in addition to raising cotton on their farm.

In addition to picking cotton, the young Jim Bob learned to play the fiddle and the mandolin. Both a sister and several brothers played musical instruments, while another sister played piano. The Wills family frequently held country dances in their home, and there was dancing in all four rooms. While living in Hall County, Texas, they also played at 'ranch dances' which were popular in both North Texas and eastern New Mexico

Wills formed several bands and played radio stations around the South and West until he formed the Texas Playboys in 1934 with Wills on fiddle, Tommy Duncan on piano and vocals, rhythm guitarist June Whalin, tenor banjoist Johnnie Lee Wills, and Kermit Whalin, who played steel guitar and bass. The band played regularly on a Tulsa, Oklahoma radio station and added Leon McAuliffe on steel guitar, pianist Al Stricklin, drummer Smokey Dacus, and a horn section that expanded the band's sound. Wills favored jazz-like arrangements and the band found national popularity into the 1940s with such hits as "Steel Guitar Rag," "New San Antonio Rose," "Smoke on the Water," "Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima," and "New Spanish Two Step."

The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted Wills in 1968 and the Texas State Legislature honored him for his contribution to American music. In 1972, Wills accepted a citation from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in Nashville. He was recording an album with fan Merle Haggard in 1973 when a stroke left him comatose until his death in 1975. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Wills and the Texas Playboys in 1999. (for Wikipedia)

Read more about one of Texas's most beloved musicians on the official site,, and in Charles Townsend's biography, San Antonio Rose.

Welcome to Memphis, Texas
Welcome to Memphis, Texas


Hall County friends surround the Quanah Parker Trail giant arrow in Memphis
Hall County friends surround the Quanah Parker Trail giant arrow in Memphis

The sites you'll enjoy visiting in Hall County
are scattered around rural hillsides and dramatic view, so save some time to enjoy the drive! In downtown Memphis, stop and see the Quanah Parker Trail arrow at the city entrance signage along US Highway 287, before turning into the heart of town along its fifty blocks of brick-paved streets. In the center of the Memphis square, the historic Hall County Courthouse features a Classical Revival design was completed in 1923, featuring Classical and Beaux Arts detailing including Corinthian columns and decorative stone garlands. The Hall County Heritage Hall Museum, located in the historic First National Bank building, tells more of the region's history.



Follow US287 south across the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and you'll come to the former railroad town of Estelline, one of the entry points on the sixty-four-mile Caprock Canyons Trailway. (Plan ahead to hike, bicycle, or ride horseback along any stretch of the Trailway, or take a ranger-guided tour out from Caprock Canyons State Park.) Turning east on scenic Texas Highway 86, you'll come to Turkey, on the state park's fringes. Turkey boasts a couple of havens for junkers and antiquers, and even when there's no big event going on you can grab a bite at Galvan's Restaurant or the convenience store before poking around the old school, or the Turkey Tracks Museum, or the vintage Phillips 66 station where you can view Bob Wills's vintage tour bus. Overnight visitors can park an RV on the grounds at Bob Wills Day at the Church of Western Swing (a converted church building), camp in the state park, or stay over at the 1927 Hotel Turkey Bed & Breakfast, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Watch and listen: Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys with "San Antonio Rose" (1944) 


The tour bus of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys is parked beside a historic Phillips 66 station and sign in Turkey. Texas.
The tour bus of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys is parked beside a historic Phillips 66 station and sign in Turkey. Texas.



April Bob Wills Day, Turkey

September Hall County Picnic, Memphis

Car content divider


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
Car content divider

TX Highway 52 "52" TRIVIA TIME

Did you graduate from Pampa High School Class of 1952? Check out your yearbook here in the 1952 "Plain View" on!

Hall 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!
Car content divider

Texas Time Travel posters
[Cut us some slack--a series of out-of-town meetings has us running a few days behind schedule!]

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!

Next week's county features one of the most impressive gatherings of historic windmills in the nation -- all set in an open-air park that beckons visitors from the roadside. Be the first to name the city and the county to win a set of posters!
Car content divider

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!
Car content divider

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

Copyright 2015 Texas Plains Trail Region. All Rights Reserved.