Crosbyton, Texas is the perfect daytrip destination for the whole family. The revitalized downtown welcomes visitors with beautiful historic buildings, streets with vintage lighting, and boutique shops featuring rustic and rare items. Located on U.S. Highway 82, Crosbyton is only 36 miles east of Lubbock and two miles west of Blanco Canyon at the edge of the caprock.
The friendly farming community is also rich in pioneer heritage. The Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum sits on the town square facing Main Street. Home to over 45,000 artifacts, the museum is one tour that can’t be missed. The wings of the museum spread out from a replica of the Hank Smith house, the first permanent pioneer home ever built on the South Plains. One wing houses the Wayne J. Parker Center for the Study of Native American Cultures, which includes a magnificent collection of arrowheads, weapons, and pottery.
“The museum was started in 1958,” Executive Director Melinda Cagle said, “funded with a trust set up by Mrs. Percy Lamar, a local farmer’s wife.”
The range and quality of exhibits are unprecedented for a museum of its size. They include the recreation of a pioneer dugout, a Plains Indian teepee, displays on the 4th Cavalry, Texas Rangers, and domestic life in the 19th century. The museum preserves the history of the Comanches and Kiowas who once roamed the plains, as well as that of the ranchers and farmers who settled the land in the late 1800s.
The museum’s latest project is a new exhibit on the Battle of Blanco Canyon. In 1871, the canyon was the site of a clash between Quanah Parker’s Comanche warriors and Col. Mackenzie’s 4th Cavalry. Mackenzie had led his men into the heart of Comancheria, hoping to take the Comanches by surprise. Camped in the canyon one night, they were startled awake when Parker and other warriors went stampeding through camp. The warriors drove off 66 of the cavalry’s horses, including Mackenzie’s favorite mount.
The following day, Lieutenant Carter and a handful of troopers spotted a few Comanches with some of the stolen horses. They chased after them. “It was trap,” museum volunteer Bill Buckman explained. “They came over a hill and they were up to their ears in Comanches.” The chase turned backwards, the cavalrymen making a fighting retreat. One trooper lost his life in the battle. Only the arrival of Mackenzie’s main column and Tonkawa scouts saved Carter’s men from certain death. Quanah Parker and his warriors fled up the walls of Blanco Canyon, firing down on their enemies. Mackenzie pursued them several days, but at last the Comanches escaped in a blue norther, vanishing into the storm. The Battle of Blanco Canyon provided Mackenzie a valuable education in Plains Indian warfare, knowledge which helped him force the surrender of Parker and the last free Comanches four years later.
The Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum is open Tuesday—Saturday, 9:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m. and 1:00—5:00 p.m.
Just across the street is the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum, founded by Crosbyton native Joe Taylor. The converted department store houses a truly stunning collection of fossils and casts of prehistoric creatures, including dinosaurs, mammoths, giant salamanders and crocodiles. Many of the exhibits are world-class, made all the more impressive for their presence in small town West Texas.
Joe Taylor is a man of many talents. An artist who turned to the field of paleontology, Taylor exhibits his work from decades of excavations. A special art room displays Taylor’s billboard paintings of rock n roll album covers, including those autographed by musician James Taylor and members of Three Dog Night.
“We’re the largest non-evolution, working museum in the world,” Taylor said. “Our view is that the creation story is true, the Bible is true from the very first verse.” Regardless of what side you take on the creationism/evolution debate, a tour of the museum is guaranteed fun. The exhibits are fascinating, whether you agree with all the viewpoints or not.
The Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum is ideal for anyone who loves dinosaurs and fossil digs. The gift shop offers fossils and cast replicas for purchase, along with books by Joe Taylor and other authors. Guided lecture tours are available for groups. If you plan to visit, it’s best to call ahead at (806) 675-7777.
After touring the museums, satisfy your hunger at Dairy Queen or one of the local favorites like Main Street Diner or Charlie’s.
Make that a to-go order and take your meal out to the shaded picnic tables at Silver Falls Park, the largest roadside park in the Lone Star State. Just four miles east of town, Silver Falls Park offers a beautiful facility with Wi-Fi access, restrooms, and a stone staircase leading down to the creek bed. Enjoy the beauty of the waterfall, then take a hiking or backpacking trail. The park also provides access to a portion of Blanco Canyon, a favorite hunting ground of Comanche chief Quanah Parker.
Other attractions in Crosbyton include the Prairie Ladies Multi-Cultural Center, the Veteran’s War Museum, the city park and swimming pool, and RV park.