Randall County
Historical Markers

Texas Plains Trail Region

Map of Randall County

Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section).
Site of an Early Barbed Wire Fence in the Panhandle | Los Ciboleros (New Mexican Buffalo Hunters) | Francisco Vasquez de Coronado on the Texas Plains | Frying Pan Ranch | Charles Goodnight Memorial Trail | Site of Old Happy | Old JA Ranch | Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, September 28, 1874 | Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum | Randall County | Randall County | Randall County Courthouse | Sam Wood Cabin | Tecovas Springs | Site of Wagon Yard

Site of an Early Barbed Wire Fence in the Panhandle

Marker Title: Site of an Early Barbed Wire Fence in the Panhandle
Address: SH 217, about one mi East of Courthouse
City: Canyon
County: Randall
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: Eastern edge of Canyon on SH 217 about one mile from Courthouse.
Marker Text: In the latter 1880s, when fencing was needed in the treeless Texas Panhandle, the solution proved to be barbed wire. Joseph F. Glidden of Illinois devised and by 1876 was manufacturing (with I.L. Ellwood) the first really practical barbed wire on the market. H.B. Sanborn was sent to Texas as their agent, and remained to become a builder of the Panhandle. Wanting free access to water and grass, ranchers at first resisted fencing. Cowboys disliked it, as fewer range riders were needed on fenced lands. The old-timers grew bitter, because of blocked trails -- herds had to be hauled rather than driven to market. Yet, newcomers wanted fencing, in oder to have use of land purchased for ranching. Merchants and city-builders wanted fences, to assure settlement. The T-Anchor, owned by Jot Gunter and William B. Munson, real estate investors of Grayson County, built a line fence on this site in 1881, enclosing a 240,000-acre horse pasture. Also, built in this area, by popular subscription, was a "drift" fence to hold cattle back from wandering south in blue northers and blizzards. Barbed wire gradually came into general use. It saved the cattle industry, because improvements in breeding and feeding were possible on fenced ranges. (1968)

Los Ciboleros (New Mexican Buffalo Hunters)

Marker Title: Los Ciboleros (New Mexican Buffalo Hunters)
Address: SH 217 East of Canyon
City: Canyon
County: Randall
Year Marker Erected: 1973
Marker Location: SH 217 East of Canyon.
Marker Text: For centuries Pueblo Indians of present New Mexico trekked to the plains to hunt buffalo to supplement from the Spanish in the 17th century, the annual trips were made more easily and with greater success. By the 19th Century, the Ciboleros (from "Cibolo" -- Spanish for buffalo) became very important, providing food for the growing New Mexican population and hides for the rich Santa Fe-Chihuahua trade. Cibolero expeditions often included as many as 150 people. The daring cazadores (hunters), picturesque in leather jackets and flat straw hats, rode into the herds armed only with lances, killing 8 to 25 bison each in one foray, and depending on the speed, agility, and skill of their horses for safety. Others, including occasional women and children, cut meat into strips for drying and cured the hides for tanning. With their carts laden with fruits of the hunt, the Ciboleros returned to New Mexico and a hero's welcome. The Plains Indians, protecting their hunting grounds, maintained constant warfare against the Ciboleros throughout the 19th century, but the colorful lancers survived until Anglo-American hunters decimated the great buffalo herds in the late 1870s.

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado on the Texas Plains

Marker Title: Francisco Vasquez de Coronado on the Texas Plains
Address: SH 217 4 mi East of Canyon
City: Canyon
County: Randall
Year Marker Erected: 1973
Marker Location: Located on SH 217 4 miles east of Canyon.
Marker Text: On April 22, 1540, Francisco Vasquez De Coronado (1510-54) set out from Culiacan (in present Sinaloa, Mexico) with an expedition of 1500 men to search for seven golden cities reported far to the north. Coronado entered the present United States in Arizona and proceeded northeast to the Rio Grande pueblos in New Mexico where he spent the winter of 1540-41. On April 23, 1541, Coronado left the Rio Grande, traveling eastward to seek the Golden City of Quivira. A native guide called "El Turco" led the Conquistadores aimlessly across the arid plains in an attempt to get them lost. On May 29, 1541, with supplies depleted, Coronado entered Palo Duro Canyon, where wild fruit and water abounded. While in the canyon, Coronado discovered the guide's betrayal. On June 2, Coronado selected 30 men and started northward in quest of Quivira. The rest of the expedition, under command of Tristan De Arellano, remained in the canyon for 2 weeks before returning to the Rio Grande. According to legend, Fray Juan De Padilla conducted a feast of Thanksgiving for the group while in Palo Duro Canyon. In 1542, after failing to find the Seven Cities of Gold, Coronado returned to Mexico a broken man. (1973)

Frying Pan Ranch

Marker Title: Frying Pan Ranch
County: Randall
Marker Text: First big cattle ranch fenced with barbed wire. Established to demonstrate effectiveness of barbed wire in controlling use of grass, in preserving herd bloodlines and in reducing ranch work forces. Owned by barbed wire inventor Joseph F. Glidden and his Texas sales agent, Henry B. Sanborn. Sanborn developed the ranch, devising the "Panhandle brand" -- immediately renamed "Frying Pan" by cowboys branding 12,000 head of cattle originally pastured here. Fencing began here in 1881 with wire freighted from Dodge City. Cedar posts were cut in Canadian River valley and Palo Duro Canyon (40 mi. SE). Ranch was successful in proving the advantages of barbed wire fencing: the most important contribution to the economic conquest of the Great Plains. Potter County was organized in 1887 with Amarillo the county seat. Glidden and Sanborn moved city one mile east to their townsite addition in 1889. In 1892 Sanborn traded his interest in the Frying Pan for Glidden's interest in the city. In time the eastern fence line of the ranch became Western Street in Amarillo. Heirs of Glidden still manage the family estate. The old ranch headquarters was located at Tecovas Springs (6 mi. NW).

Charles Goodnight Memorial Trail

Marker Title: The Charles Goodnight Memorial Trail
Address: East 4th Ave.
City: Canyon
County: Randall
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: In front of Panhandle-Plains Museum, East 4th Avenue, Canyon.
Marker Text: The highway from this museum to the Palo Duro State Park (12 miles east) approximates course used by Charles Goodnight, outstanding Texas cowman and trail blazer, when he trailed 1600 cattle from Colorado to found first ranch on the staked plains of Texas in 1876. He entered precipitous Palo Duro Canyon by way of old Comanche Indian trail; drove thousands of buffalo from what is now park area; established his home ranch a few miles farther down canyon. Goodnight was born in Illinois, March 5, 1836. At age of 9 he rode bareback to Texas behind covered wagon driven by his parents; he hunted with Caddo Indians beyond the frontier at 14; guided Texas Rangers fighting Comanche and Kiowas at 25; blazed cattle trails about 2,000 miles long with Oliver Loving at 30. In partnership with John G. Adair, he expanded his original Palo Duro ranch into the giant JA and other holdings of more than a million acres and 100,000 cattle. He preserved the buffalo, founded a college, encouraged the settlement of the plains and led in a long fight for law and order. This foremost plainsman died March 12, 1929; and is buried at Goodnight, Texas. (1968)

Site of Old Happy

Marker Title: Site of Old Happy
Address: US 87, 1 mi. N of Happy
City: Happy
County: Randall
Year Marker Erected: 1973
Marker Location: from Happy, travel north of US 87 about 1 mile, marker is attached to windmill o the west side of the highway at the Randall/Swisher County line.
Marker Text: The Hugh Currie family home, "Happy Hollow" (built 1891, near this site), was for many years only house on Amarillo-Tulia freight and stage lines. Settlers got mail and freight here. The U.S. Postal Department cut name to "Happy" for the post office. The town moved (2 miles west) to Santa Fe Line, 1906. (1973)

Old JA Ranch

Marker Title: The Old JA Ranch
Address: Off SH 217 in Palo Duro Canyon State Park
City: Canyon
County: Randall
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: from Canyon, travel on SH 217, about 14 miles to Palo Duro Canyon State Park; marker is located just past entrance gate in park on right side of road.
Marker Text: In 1876, veteran Texas cattleman, Charles Goodnight entered Palo Duro Canyon by way of an old Comanche Indian trail near here, to establish the first ranch in this area. In 1877, Goodnight in partnership with Englishman John Adair moved farther down the canyon to lay out headquarters of the JA Ranch. This pioneer venture became one of the greatest cattle operations in the world, taking in more than a million acres of land and grazing 101,023 head of cattle. Goodnight had became acquainted with the Palo Duro as a scout and guide for Texas Rangers during the Civil War. He knew that the canyon, fenced in by the overhanging caprock, was an ideal spot for a ranch: it furnished water and shelter in the winter and the adjacent plains provided ideal grazing in the summer. Upper division of this ranch (the park area) was reserved for the purebred, of JA herd. The vast lower end of the JA was ranged by longhorns - gradually being improved by better blood. In 1887 the Goodnight-Adair partnership was ended. Adair retained the JA which, in the hands of his heirs, is still one of the great ranches of Texas. (1968)

Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, September 28, 1874

Marker Title: The Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, September 28, 1874.
Address: SH 217 at Palo Duro Canyon State Park
City: Canyon
County: Randall
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: from Canyon, travel on SH 217 east to entrance of Palo Duro Canyon State Park, continue through gate on Park Road 5, marker is at the end of the road, about 5 miles
Marker Text: One of the most significant battles of 1874-75 Indian campaign; columns of troops converging from five directions harassed Indians on the Panhandle Plains for over six months. The 4th Cavalry under Colonel Ronald S. Mackenzie, moving north from Fort Concho, tracked a large band of Indians to their secret canyon camp. Moving silently at dawn down a perilous path on the south rim, the first troops reached the floor of the canyon before the aroused camp fled. Some of the warriors took up positions on the canyon walls from which they fired on the troops, seeking to give their families time to escape. Realizing his tactical disadvantage, Mackenzie ordered the Indian camp and supplies burned and withdrew, taking along 1,400 captured horses (1,000 of which he later destroyed). The cavalry suffered no causalities in the fight and only four Indian dead were counted. Having lost half their horses as well as all their supplies and shelter, the Indians drifted back to their reservations at Fort Sill and Fort Reno. (1967)

Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

Museum Name: Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Mailing Address: WTAMU Box 967
City: Canyon
Zip Code: 79016
Street Address: 2401 4th Avenue (79015)
Area Code: 806
Phone: 656-2244
County: Randall

Randall County

Marker Title: Randall County
County: Randall
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Text: Formed from Young and Bexar territories. Create