Today, we go outside the loop and venture east of Lubbock. We introduce you to Jacque James, director of the Crosbyton Chamber of Commerce, as she tells us about Crosbyton!
Crosbyton is a friendly community located thirty-six miles east of Lubbock at the edge of the caprock on Texas Highway 82. It was recognized in 2007 by First Lady Laura Bush as a Preserve America Community and received the Texas Department of Agriculture Hardworking Rural Community Award in 2009 and 2010. In fact, Crosbyton is a community with 19th century charm and 21st century amenities.
Blanco Canyon, which snakes through the county near Crosbyton east on Texas Highway 82 and north on F.M. Highway 651, is a historical site whose story reaches back to prehistory. The canyon provided man water, shelter, game, and vegetation throughout time. To the ancient inhabitants, it was seen as a Garden of Eden, where wanderers could rest. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was a favorite hunting site of Comanche Chief Quanah Parker. Blanco Canyon was also the site of the important running battle between the Comanche and the U.S. 4th Cavalry under Col. MacKenzie. From the battle MacKenzie learned valuable lessons that led to the final defeat of the proud Comanche. A visitor to Crosby County has access to part of the canyon at Silver Falls Park, four miles east of Crosbyton on Highway 82. The park contains newly constructed rest facilities, WiFi access, information about canyon history and a WPA built stone staircase leading down into the creek bed.
The gem of the Crosbyton downtown is the Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum. The museum is built in wings around a replica of the Hank Smith house, the first permanent home on the Llano located in Blanco Canyon. Today, the museum also houses a new Native American wing that is home to the “Wayne J. Parker Center for the Study of Native American Cultures.” It exhibits the collection of local historians and archeologist, Choice Smith and Wayne Parker. The event center includes the Llano Estacado mural painted by Crosbyton artist Joe Taylor There are exhibits on the 4th Cavalry and the Texas Rangers, and exhibits of ranching, agriculture, transportation, and business. The east wing celebrates the domestic arts and contains a replica of a half dugout. The museum also has an extensive archival collection that includes microfilm of the Crosby County News, a newspaper printed from 1909 until the present; a large 20th century photograph collection, and a Texana library.
Across the street from the Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum is one of the most unusual and quirky museums in Texas. The Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum is the life work of Joe Taylor. It is a museum of prehistoric fossils found in a life full of digs. It contains his casting workshop, and an art studio. Joe worked in L.A. in the 1960’s and 1970’s, painting large signs of album covers for advertising display. He has saved many of them and they form a visual narrative of the times. Today, Joe casts replicas of fossils and of complete dinosaurs for museum collections. His most recent casting of a stegosaurus and a baby stegosaurus is bound for a new home in Oklahoma.
Crosbyton has a variety of choices if you get hungry. Sample the brisket at 82 B-B-Q. Indulge in Mexican food at Teresa’s Cocina. Chow down on a great burger and homemade potato chips at Charley’s, or let Linda Silva serve up some D.Q. soft serve like she has for years. White River Lake is twenty-five miles south of Crosbyton on FM 651. WR Marina at the lake offers a fish fry with live entertainment on Friday nights in the summer. Crosbyton has a wonderful city park with a swimming pool, walking track, R.V. hook-ups, and a play area. The park is the location of a 40 foot arrow commemorating the presence of the Comanche in the area. The arrow is the work of South Plains artist, Charles Smith for the Texas Heritage Trails as a stop on the new Quanah Parker Trail.
Come for the history and stay to “Chime In and Celebrate Christmas in Crosbyton.” The yearly event takes place downtown around the Crosby County Courthouse. This year the parade will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 7 and head east on Aspen Street to the Courthouse. Events take place around the square in the beautiful public buildings. After a parade of lights, the crowd divides into different venues. Santa holds court in the gazebo on the square. The children’s Christmas card contest entries are on display in the Library where awards will be given to winners. A chili supper is available in the Prairie Ladies Multicultural Center; and hot chocolate can be purchased from the Girl Scouts in the Gowen’s family building. Finally, the museum hosts a “Candlelight Caroling in the Museum”, where visitors can stroll through the museum and be entertained by Bluegrass students from South Plains College and local musicians. Meet friendly folks, take in the views and enjoy the fun in Crosbyton.
The Hardworking Rural Community Awards are part of Texas Department of Agriculture’s efforts to market and promote rural Texas while raising public awareness of efforts to boost tourism, job growth, leadership, mentoring, community development and other economic opportunities. The City of Crosbyton was honored to receive this award in 2009 and 2010.
Prairies Ladies Inn and Chamber of Commerce office. A former hotel and drug store is being showcased in Crosbyton’s history. It was originally the area’s first hotel, the Crosbyton Inn. Later, it was Lowrie’s drug store. Thanks to some fundraising and a Texas Department of Transportation grant, the building now houses the Prairie Ladies Inn. It includes an old fashioned soda and sandwich shop, a visitor’s center, transportation museum and an exhibit to honor the women who first settled in the area. It was originally the area’s first hotel, the Crosbyton Inn. Later, it was Lowrie’s drug store. Thanks to some fundraising and a Texas Department of Transportation grant, the building will soon house the Prairie Ladies Inn. It will include an old fashioned soda and sandwich shop, a visitors center, transportation museum and an exhibit to honor the women who first settled in the area.
Crosbyton, Texas, (population 1,767) is in a productive dairying and farming area east of Lubbock. Prehistoric nomadic hunters, Southern Plains Cheyennes, Kiowas, and Comanches lived in the region, and the Spanish explorer Vasquez de Coronado traveled the area in 1541. Once a “cattle cutting grounds” amid vast tracts of rangeland, development of the area and adjacent land started in 1882. By 1909 much of the land was controlled by land developers and speculators who conducted successful campaigns to bring new settlers to West Texas. The area was promoted as a great cotton-growing region, and innovative farmers learned techniques to make the rich, dry land productive. Crosbyton became the county seat in 1910 and a few months later the first train left on the Crosbyton-South Plains Railroad.
From World War I through the 1920s the population of Crosbyton and Crosby County grew steadily. The Great Depression contributed to the 8.9 percent decrease in county population between 1930 and 1940, though the town of Crosbyton increased in population and gained roughly 20 more businesses. Crosbyton’s first hospital opened in August 1947, and the Crosbyton Municipal Airport was dedicated in 1975.
A marketing center for hogs, wheat, and grain sorghum, Crosbyton was also at one time the home of the world’s largest cotton gin. In the 1970s Texas Tech University received a large federal research grant for a solar power project at Crosbyton and constructed a 65 foot mirrored dish, at the time the largest single solar collector in the world.
Crosbyton’s latest preservation achievement involves the Crosbyton Inn, the area’s first hotel and a Texas historic landmark. The original building was constructed in 1908 and the current three-story brick building in 1926. It was bought during WWII by local businessman (and son of a Crosby County pioneer) W. P. Lamar and renamed the Lamar Building. Lowrie Drugs was the longtime downstairs tenant, while the upper floor housed doctors’ offices and apartments.
The city of Crosbyton, the Rio Blanco Heritage Foundation, and a Texas Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant enabled the rehabilitation of this downtown landmark. Now the Prairie Ladies Multi-Cultural Center, it was dedicated in 2006 and houses an old-fashioned soda fountain and sandwich shop, a bus terminal, a visitors’ center, exhibits on “prairie ladies” and transportation, performance space, chamber offices, and a conference room.
Other attractions include the Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum and Mount Blanco Fossil Museum. The Pioneer Museum is home to some 45,000 artifacts, including a large collection of quilts and other household items and a mural depicting the history of Crosbyton. The museum’s façade is a replica of the first home on the West Texas Plains.
Crosbyton is featured in the Texas Plains Trail Region promotional material and participates in Texas Yes!, a marketing initiative of the Texas Department of Agriculture which supports rural communities in their tourism efforts through workshops and an online Guide to Rural Texas Destinations. Crosbyton also hosts a cowboy gathering each October.