Today, I went for a drive to check out a real estate listing. Along the way, there are two easily accessible historical marker locations on Hwy 60 in Carson county, also known as the Texas Plains Trail.

Hwy 60 East markers

The first historical marker location actually has three markers. This location is between Amarillo and Panhandle going east.

All three historical markers.

From left to right, the markers have the following text.

  • Left: “The 33rd Anniversary National Convention, Men’s Garden Clubs of America, meeting at Amarillo, June 14-17, 1965, formally recognized and paid tribute to the significance of Thomas Cree’s little tree and to the memory of this heroic early gardener of these High Plains.” This historical marker was dedicated in 1967.
  • Middle: “After serving as a teamster in the Civil War (1861-65), Thadium (Thomas) B. Cree worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1888 he and his wife came to the High Plains. They acquired this land and, with no trees for lumber, they built a dugout home. Cree traveled 35 miles at his wife’s request to find a sapling and planted it here. He watered it from a nearby lake that he dug from a buffalo wallow. The tree never grew but lived many years despite blizzard, heat, and drought. Gov. John Connally dedicated an historical marker in 1963 to the first tree in the Panhandle.” This historical marker was also dedicated in 1967.
  • Right Top: ” First tree on the Texas High Plains, set in front of dugout home by Thomas Cree, 1888. Good luck symbols of settlers throughout drouth, blizzard and heat.” This marker was dedicated in 1963.
  • Right Bottom: “Cree’s bois d’arc tree died in the 1970s. County residents planted a new tree here in 1990 as a memorial to the area’s early pioneers.” This marker was added in 1990, but is part of the same historical marker.

Hwy 60 west marker

On the way back from my road trip, I visited this historical marker on the eastern edge of Panhandle.

Historical marker in front of the train tracks.

The marker text reads “Originally “Carson City”, town name was changed 1887 when this site appeared to be the future metropolis of the Panhandle: it was to be at the junction of Santa Fe (under name “Southern Kansas”) and Fort Worth & Denver City Railroads. Plans changed, however, and the F.W. & D.C. took a route 16 mi. south, bypassing Panhandle. (Amarillo was soon founded on the F.W. & D.C.) Even so, Panhandle became a major shipping center. During great ranching era and again in 1926 oil boom, it moved more freight than any other town on Santa Fe line except Chicago.” This marker is known as the Terminus of the Santa Fe Railroad and was dedicated in 1968.

A closer look at the train tracks behind the historical marker.

In the future

This is the start of a new personal project. The good thing is that the Texas Historical Commission keeps a record of all the state historical markers on an atlas map. There are 64 markers in Carson county alone. 🙂 Since the Texas Panhandle area is about 20 counties, I have plenty of markers to keep me busy.

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