Monday, July 25, 2016

Texas Plains Trail Region

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in the 2016 Annual Roundup of the Texas Plains Trail Region. Several months ago Dr. Barbara Brannon, Executive Director of the TPTR, invited me to deliver the keynote address at the 2016 Roundup, to be held in Childress on July 20-21-22.
Childress County Heritage Museum
The Texas Plains Trail Region is a heritage tourism organization that stretches across a 52-county area of approximately 50,000 square miles centered on the Texas Panhandle. In 1968 Gov. John Connally and the Texas Highway Department established 10 scenic driving trails across the Lone Star State. Three decades later the State Legislature charged the Texas Historical Commission to create a heritage tourism program. Basing their efforts on the 10 scenic driving trails, the THC began by establishing the Texas Forts Trail Region.  
Museum Curator Lee Ann Morren

Downtown Mural
The Texas Plains Trail Region promotes historic sites at communities, museums, and in the countryside across the 52-county area. The region is rich in history - Spanish and U.S. Army explorers, Comanche warriors, cavalrymen, ranchers, cowboys, feudists. Through the years I have researched books in the region, visited museums and battlefields and ghost towns and Comanche sites, which now are designated by giant arrowheads and accompanying historical markers in the 52-county region.
Childress was Division Headquarters for the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad
So I was eager, as always, to return to the Texas Plains Trail Region. It's a little over 400 miles from my home in Carthage to Childress, and with an early start on Wednesday morning I arrived early in the afternoon. I enjoyed my first look at the new and impressive Childress Event Center. Barbara Brannon was conducting a TPTR Board Meeting in a far corner of the spacious main room. Barbara had graciously asked me to set up a book table for a signing at the end of my address. After finishing the table I hurried downtown to see the Childress County Heritage Museum, now located in the 1935 post office building. The curator, Lee Ann Morren, is a native of Childress who is most enthusiastic about local history. Lee Ann toured me through the museum, then directed me to points of interest downtown. I was especially interested in an antique auto and buggy museum housed in a 1920s car agency building. This museum is operated through the Childress County Heritage Museum, and it is opened upon request.  
With Barbara Brannon (right) and Board President Kristine Olsen (left)
Michael Grauer of the Panhandle Plains Museum
That evening there was an opening reception at the 501 Winery, across the street from the courthouse. The next morning at breakfast I shared a table with Tai Kreidler, Executive Director of the West Texas Historical Association and - involved as always with almost every historical organization in West Texas - a board member of the Texas Plains Trail Region.
With Tai Kreidler
On Thursday morning at the Childress Event Center we were welcomed by Mayor Brett Parr. A highlight of the morning was a masterful and entertaining program on the Red River War by Michael Grauer of the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon. Also I was interviewed on-camera by Drew Powell, a news reporter for ABC Channel 7 TV in Amarillo, whose piece provided welcome publicity for the office of State Historian.
Drew Powell of Channel 7 Amarillo
My after-lunch program was entitled "Adventures of a Back Trailer." Ramon Adams, the great compiler of Western words, defined a back trailer as: "To go back over a trail." I related my lifetime of going back over historic trails: overland trails, cattle trails, stagecoach trails, outlaw trails, rail trails - especially the notable landmarks of these trails. I tried to convey the sheer magic of "feeling the ghosts" that attracts visitors to such sites. Afterward I enjoyed a lively book signing, before exchanging good-byes with a roomful of new friends. Friday's event was a workshop, so I departed on Thursday afternoon, but I had enjoyed a grand time among fellow history enthusiasts in Childress.   

With Board Vice President Stephanie Price, who shot several photos for this blog
With Teresa Caldwell

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