Rugged territory near the site of Adobe Walls
Rugged territory near the historic site of Adobe Walls, in Hutchinson 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!  
Alibates Flint
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument protects, and interprets, the site of 12,000-year old quarries along the Canadian River where flint was made into tools and weapons for use and trade.
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Hutchinson County_ Texas
Hutchinson County_ Texas 
Click to download a map of the Texas Plains Trail Region (pdf)
Hutchinson County is home to one of the world's largest pump stations for natural gas, which supplies metropolitan areas west to Denver and east to Indianapolis. Named for pioneer jurist Anderson Hutchinson, the county enjoys high rolling plains and fertile valleys fed by the Canadian River, which angles its way across the county from southwest to northeast.

National Park Service arrowhead logo The river is dammed on the southwest to form Lake Meredith, a popular boating and recreational destination that is designated a National Recreation Area. And this month, along with 411 other National Parks sites, Lake Meredith NRA and Alibates Flint Quarries celebrate the centennial of the National Parks Service with activities Sept. 3 and 4. (Read all the details here.)

Artifacts of the Antelope Creek Indian culture abound along the Canadian valley in Hutchinson County. Nomadic Plains Apaches camped in this area and were followed in turn by the warlike Comanches, Kiowas, and Southern Cheyennes.
The first Anglo-American expedition to come through the county was led by Stephen H. Long in 1820. Because they kept close to the river, the Long expedition missed the fresh springs that feed its tributaries and often had problems finding suitable drinking water, leading one member of Long's party to dub the area the "Great American Desert.

Adobe Walls marker
Though nothing survives of the structures at Adobe Walls today, memorials near the site help the visitor imagine the historic events that took place here on the Plains.
In the early 1840s the firm of Bent, St. Vrain and Company opened a trading post in the Canadian valley hoping to profit from trade with the Indians. The post, known as Fort Adobe, remained in operation until about 1848 and its ruins have come to be known as Adobe Walls.

The First Battle of Adobe Walls, one of the largest engagements between whites and Indians on the Great Plains, took place in 1864 when Gen. James H. Carleton sent scout and officer Kit Carson into the area to avenge for Indian attacks. Kiowa leader "Dohäsan led many charges, ably assisted by Stumbling Bear and Satanta," reads the account at "General Carleton lauded Carson's retreat in the face of overwhelming odds as an outstanding military accomplishment; though the former mountain man was unable to strike a killing blow, he is generally credited with a decisive victory.

For more, read Alvin Lynn's award-winning Kit Carson and the First Battle of Adobe Walls (Texas Tech University Press, 2014).

Left_ Col. Kit Carson_ right_ Kiowa chief Dohasan
Left: Col. Kit Carson; right: Kiowa chief Dohasan
Second Battle of Adobe Walls took place in 1874, when a buffalo hunters' camp about a mile from the adobe ruins was attacked by a party of about 700 Plains Indians, mostly Cheyennes, Comanches, and Kiowas, under the leadership of Quanah Parker and Isa-tai. 

In the twentieth century Hutchinson County has been the site of ranching, agriculture, and petroleum. The story of the vast Panhandle oilfield in the 1920s is told through artifacts and exhibits at the Hutchinson County Museum in Borger.

The construction of Sanford Dam on the Canadian River in 1962 turned the region into a popular recreation area, which became a National Recreation Area in 1972. Visitors can learn about the area's natural history at the Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife Museum in Fritch, and the nearby Alibates National Monument - Texas's first. 
(Information from and Wikipedia)

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 37 listings in Hutchinson County. Click and explore for history on your desktop!
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Organized  1901
County seat  Stinnett
Population  22,150

Communities    Borger   Fritch   Stinnett   Sanford

Mascots   Borger Bulldogs   Sanford-Fritch Eagles   West Texas High Comanches  

Nope, "Alibates" isn't some obscure Latin geological term. It's taken from the name of the ranch hand whose survey led to the discovery of the quarries and their significance. It's pronounced just like it looks, Ally-Bates.


Hutchinson County Historical Museum
Hutchinson County Historical Museum, Borger
HUTCHINSON COUNTY IS AN OUTDOOR PARADISE in the heart of the Texas Panhandle.
In the southwest corner of the county, the town of Fritch
serves as gateway to a host of natural and cultural history and provides an overview to heritage travelers in pursuit of this unique resource via the Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife Museum. The museum features dioramas of local wildlife specimens, interpretive exhibits on the flint quarries and the local playa lakes, and two 4000-gallon aquariums featuring the local fish species of Lake Meredith and the Canadian River - and exhibits local artworks as well.

Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife Museum_ Fritch
Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife Museum, Fritch
Flintknapping at Alibates National Monument
Flintknapping demonstration at Alibates National Monument
Abilates Flint Quarries National Monument lies 7 miles south of Fritch on Highway 136. Once well-known by mammoth hunters as the best place to obtain stone for their tools, the hand-dug quarries now offer a glimpse into the daily lives of the ancestors of the Caddo, Pawnee, and Wichita Indians.

Ranger-guided hikes and short self-guided walks provide views of the exposed flint as well as the flora and fauna of the region. The visitor's center houses a bookstore, a theater with interpretive video, exhibits including flint samples, and a National Parks Service passport cancellation station for both Abilates Flint Quarries National Monument and Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. For younger visitors, there is a junior ranger program.

Camping is not available at Alibates , but scenic overlook, shoreline camping and woodland campgrounds are available at nearby Lake Meredith, where there's also a swimming beach below the dam. No RV hook-ups or showers are available but dump stations with potable water are located near Fritch Fortress and Sanford-Yake campgrounds. Campsites are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Lake Meredith NRA headquarters_ Fritch
Stop by the Lake Meredith NRA headquarters in Fritch for excellent regional information and ranger assistance in planning your visit.
As the largest body of water within 200 miles, Lake Meredith provides water to over three-quarters of a million nearby residents and recreation opportunities to residents and visitors alike.
Headquartered in Fritch, the park offers a full range of outdoor activities from camping, hiking, horseback riding, boating, fishing (it holds the state's walleye, small mouth bass, and yellow perch records), and hunting, to canoeing and kayaking, swimming, ranger programs, off-road vehicle use, and mountain biking.

Scenic Fritch_ Texas
Scenic Fritch, Texas

Hutchinson County Museum_ Borger
Hutchinson County Museum, Borger
Thirty miles to the northeast, visitors can enjoy indoor and outdoor fun in the town of Borger, the largest town in Hutchinson County. At the Hutchinson County Historical Museum, you can delve into the geology, paleontology, archaeology, and history of the region. Exhibits explore Coronado's trek across the Llano Estacado, Quanah Parker's battle against the buffalo hunters in the 2nd Battle of Adobe Walls, farming and ranching heritage in Hutchinson County, and the effect that the oil boom has had on the region.

Across the street from the museum looms a rare cable-tool oil drilling rig used from 1926 to 1947. The Gulf Dial No. 54 rig was once a busy, noisy, dangerous place as men drilled for oil in Hutchinson County.

The Morley Theater on North Main Street shows the latest movies and offers a free small popcorn just for signing up for their weekly e-mail newsletter.

Hutchinson County Courthouse_ Stinnett
Hutchinson County Courthouse, Stinnett
Highway 136 connects all the major towns in Hutchinson County and Stinnett, the county seat of Hutchinson County, is an easy 19-mile drive north of Borger. Among the attractions in Stinnett, visitors will find the historic McCormick House, one of the oldest surviving structures in Hutchinson County. Originally located two miles northeast of present-day Stinnett, the simple lumber house was built by settlers Isaac and Capitola McCormick in October of 1899. The McCormicks, who raised ten children in the house, first lived in the covered wagon that brought them to the Texas Panhandle until the house was completed. The lumber used to build the house, purchased in the community of Panhandle, 35 miles to the south, was freighted by a wagon team across the Canadian River.  

Gulf Oil sign_ Hutchinson County Historical Museum
Hutchinson County Museum, Borger
Hutchinson County historical markers
Throughout Hutchinson County, historical markers tell the stories of its frontier towns and explorations, from fur trading to petroleum.

September 27:  Tri-City Music Concert Association presents four live concert each season.  The first one for this season is Trio Lennon on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. at the Borger High School Auditorium.  More information is available at www.
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Texas Fifty-Two-Step deck of playing cards  
  Hutchinson County card
Our Texas Fifty-Two-Step Deck of Cards is a sweet deal to help plan your trip.  Order yours now--each face summarizes a different county's travel highlights. $10 per deck (including tax & shipping), in shrink-wrapped 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
Okay, so you won't find him in the depths of Lake Meredith, but it's a fascinating "52": Perhaps the world's most elusive and misunderstood creature, the 52 Hertz Whale has spent his entire life in solitude, calling out at a frequency that no other whale can understand. A team of marine biologists looking to locate this animal - and to preserve the health of the world's oceans - are producing a documentary about the search. 


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 selection 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!

Our next county is the sixth least populous in Texas, with a headcount of 808 as of the 2010 census. But its history is rich with Indian and military history, ranches and railroads - and even a ghost town. Be the first to name it, and we'll send you 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.