Putoff Canyon breaks from TX Highway 70_ Kent County
Putoff Canyon breaks from TX Highway 70, Kent County
Texas Fifty-Two-Step Tour
THE 52-COUNTY TEXAS PLAINS TRAIL is the largest of the ten Heritage Trails Regions of Texas, an award-winning heritage tourism initiative of the Texas Historical Commission. We help you discover the real places that tell the real stories of Texas -- places you'll want to explore on vacations, road trips, hikes, weekend excursions with your family and friends.

We invite you to join us throughout the year for our Texas Fifty-Two-Step Tour online, and in person whenever you're ready to hit the road! Follow along with a different county each issue, from Armstrong to Yoakum. Visit us at TexasPlainsTrail.com to plan your adventure by city, site, theme, or event. Watch your e-mail newsletter weekly for fun facts, games, prizes, and travel ideas.

Download our THC regional travel guide here (pdf).
And we'll see you along the trail!  
Kent County General Store, Jayton
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Kent County_ Texas
Installation of giant arrow on Quanah Parker Trail_ Kent County 
Citizens and students alike gathered in Jayton in 2013 to watch the installation of giant arrow on the Quanah Parker Trail.

Click to download a map of the Texas Plains Trail Region (pdf)
THE TEXAS PLAINS TRAIL WENT TO KENT in 2013 to install a giant arrow marker on the Quanah Parker Trail. The marker denotes an old Comanche-Kiowa trail through the area no doubt followed a route established by the great herds of bison that roamed the Southern Plains. The trail came to be known as the Comanche War Trail -- a route followed by the Comanches when they made raids into Mexico.

But we learned a great deal more about the county's history of Indians and artists, ranchers and railroads, and more.

A map drawn by R.J. "Red" Walker in 1972 is a recreation of Kent County as it would have looked in the 1880s, based on Walker's research. The Indian trail follows a north-south route that roughly bisects the county. (The map is in the collection of the Scurry County Museum in Snyder, one county away.)
 
 
Captain Randolph B. Marcy followed the same trail in his exploratory expedition through Texas in 1852.

Kent County State Bank_ Jayton
Kent County State Bank, Jayton
In Jayton, the old First National Bank (now the Kent County State Bank) is a symbol of the town's early prosperity, a gem in the context of regional architecture. Look for it one block off U. S. 70 on South Donaho Avenue near the county's magnificent Art Deco courthouse.
 
In Clairemont, 14 miles to the southwest, the old county jail stands intact from the time the little town was the county seat. The two-story courthouse, damaged by fire, is now a one-story building, still picturesque.

KCBD Community Coverage 2018_ Jayton
Kent County Judge Jim C. White, left, welcomes Lubbock's KCBD-TV news anchor Karin McCay to the station's 2018 Community Coverage tour on its first-ever visit to Jayton. The town turned out in force for an evening of food, fun, news, and entertainment.
The railroad arrived by 1909, and oil and gas strikes later. Today, although the railroad is long gone, the prosperity brought on by petroleum still benefits county residents and the impressive school district. The community remains small and close-knit today, however, a remote outpost with a storied past and friendly folks worth visiting.  
 
Old Kent County Jail_ Clairemont
The old Kent County Jail still stands in the ghost town of Clairemont.
 
Old Kent County jail and courthouse marker
Old Kent County jail and courthouse marker

Texas Historical Commission HISTORICAL MARKERS AND SITES   The Texas Historical Commission's online Texas Historical Sites Atlas  guides you to locations and information on museums, cemeteries, military sites, historical markers, national register properties, and more--including 14 listings in Kent County. Click and explore for history on your desktop!
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Jaybirds helmet KENT COUNTY QUICK FACTS
Organized  1892
County seat  Jayton
Population   764 (as of 2015)
Communities    Clairemont, Girard, Jayton 
Mascots   Jayton-Girard ISD Jaybirds 

The county's name honors Andrew Kent, one of 32 volunteers from Gonzales who died at the Alamo in 1836.

WHERE TO GO, WHAT TO DO
Kent County Courthouse_ Jayton
Kent County Courthouse, Jayton
AS YOU'RE DRIVING INTO KENT COUNTY from any direction, the scenic canyons and broken ranchlands around the Salt Fork of the Brazos River conjure up an era when this region was virtually empty -- and it may still seem so today.

But as you arrive in the county seat of Jayton, save up your appetite for a bite from the Boots 'n' Spurs Cafe or the Kent County General Store. (Set aside a little time for shopping, chatting with the locals, or shooting hoops in the back of the store!) 

Kent COunty General Store_ Jayton

If it's summertime, you're in luck for a refreshing swim at the Jayton public pool, which is open to the public 6 days a week. Jayton also offers RV camping in town, a playground and picnic area at Credit Lake Park, and golf on a rolling course a couple of miles out on the highway. If it's getting on toward fall, enjoy the changing colors along back roads. Hunting is very popular in season for dove, deer, and other species.

Jayton recreation
Putoff Canyon_ Kent County_ Texas
Putoff Canyon marker, Kent County, Texas
Drive out to the Putoff Canyon rest area, where a picnic area overlooks the site of a turn-of-the-20th-century artists' resort. Western writer Zane Grey used the region as the setting for his novel The Thundering Herd.

Continue on Highway 70 to Girard, where a peaceful chapel is surrounded by gravestones and memorials in the cemetery of this former railroad town. Each memorial day the community comes together to honor its past here.

"Born with the arrival of the Stamford and Northwestern Railway about 1909," according to TexasEscapes.com, "the community was named for the bookkeeper for the Swenson Land and Cattle Company. Mr. Swenson donated the railroad's right-of-way and thought enough of his bookkeeper to name the town after him. The community received a post office that same year (1909)."

Girard Cemetery_ Memorial Day 2018
Girard Cemetery, Memorial Day 2018

Old Clairemont Jail In the opposite direction, toward Post, the road takes you to the ghost town of Clairemont, abandoned in 1954 when the county seat was moved to Jayton. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, "The site was established as the county seat on land owned by R. L. Rhomberg when Kent County was organized in 1892. The town was named for Claire Becker, a relative of Rhomberg. A post office was established in December 1892 . . . . A courthouse and jail were constructed from local red sandstone and completed in 1895. By that time the town had several stores, a bank, a newspaper, and a hotel."

It was at this hotel in 1898 when ertswhile shootist and sheriff W. L. "Bill" Standifer killed a man named Kiggins, and in this town where Standifer offered to shoot it out with lawman John Pinkney Calhoun "Pink" Higgins the next year.

Vestiges of Clairemont's rough-and-tumble past and its more recent desertion remain, eloquently captured in verse by Lubbock poet Marilyn Westfall, who has a series of poems inspired by the ghost town.


Clairemont, Texas 
Marilyn Westfall 
 
A wood sign sways. 
Welcome. Gone but not forgotten.
Black silhouettes --
a cowboy on horseback,
a hillside and mesas --
are offset by dusk,
amber and violet.
 
The hot wind kicks up
dirt from lanes smoothly
groomed, where tourists stroll,
track through thorns,
poke along in rooms to muse
at wall studs, sinks and tubs, 
swayback rafters.
 
In a yard that greens
with cactus, rusted bikes 
seem dropped on command
of parents who loaded a truck,
escaping debt, sweating
each choice-his guitar?
A crib? Her fragile vases?
 
They salvaged some basics.
Packed in the kids.

 
Reprinted from The Concho River Review, Fall 2014
  
Old Kent County Jail_ Clairemont_ Texas
Old Kent County Jail, Clairemont, Texas (all photos by Barbara Brannon, Texas Plains Trail)



Jayton's homecoming parade brings the action right to the residents of the Kent County Nursing Home, passing beneath the facility's covered portico.
PLAN AHEAD FOR THESE ANNUAL EVENTS IN KENT COUNTY
 
October 5-6, 2018:  Although Jayton-Girard ISD holds a homecoming only in alternating years, the 6-man football matchup versus Rotan , 7:30 p.m., Oct. 5, promises to be a Friday night lights experience worth watching. A homecoming dance takes place on Saturday night.
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A WINNING HAND FOR YOUR TEXAS PLAINS TRAIL ADVENTURE

Texas Fifty-Two-Step deck of playing cards  
  Ace of Hearts Kent County
Our Texas Fifty-Two-Step Deck of Cards is a sweet deal to help plan your trip.   Order yours now--each face summarizes a different county's travel highlights. $10 per deck (including tax & shipping), in shrink-wrapped custom tuck box. Keep a deck in the glove compartment. Or use them in your favorite game of Texas Hold 'Em or Fifty-Two-Card Pickup!

NOW AVAILABLE
Retailers and Texas Plains Trail partners, please contact us at 806.747.1997 or info@TexasPlainsTrail.com for bulk sales and shipping.




'52 DeSOTO PHOTO FUN
Flat 52 Car Cutout As you travel the 52 counties of the Texas Plains Trail Region, take our Plains Trail kids and dog along with you -- in our #C52NTX 1952 DeSoto Ragtop (pdf). Download and print the graphic on heavy paper on your own color printer. Cut along the dashed line. Then glue a stir stick or popsicle stick to the back -- and feature it in your photos of destinations all around the region. Along the way, share your pix to www.Facebook.com/TexasPlainsTrail
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TX Highway 52 a to z "52" TRIVIA TIME
How many letters are there in the English language? Twenty-six, of course. Unless you count both the capitals (upper case, or majuscules) and the little letters (lower case, or miniscules) -- to make 52. 

FOLLOW US ON THE TRAIL . . . AND ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Kent County_ Texas
Like us on Facebook for regular event and travel updates. "See 52 in Texas" and discover great destinations by following our #C52NTX hashtag on Twitter, and statewide travel info on #TexasToDo. For driving and weather conditions, visit www.DriveTexas.org. And please with your Texas traveling friends!
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WHERE IN THE REGION? COMING UP NEXT WEEK
TPTR keychain
It's quiz time! We've got great prizes to share.

To win a nifty Texas Plains Trail Region keychain, be the first to email us with the correct identification of this place, located in next week's featured county.

Congratulations to all our weekly winners so far. We have only a few of these collectible poster sets to give away!

Our next county is the second least populous in Texas, with a headcount of 286 as of the 2010 census. But its history and landscape encompass some of the most legendary ranches of the West, whose brands are visible throughout the county.
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PARTNER AND DESTINATION REMINDER
Partners, do take this opportunity to review your community, site, and event information on our Texas Plains Trail website as well as your own sites. We'll want to add your photos, update any obsolete contact info, add your events, and enhance your text content before your week comes up.   Consult the Texas Fifty-Two-Step schedule (pdf), and email with me with updates or questions.

Did you know you can add your own events to the TexasTimeTravel.com website? You'll need event name, date and time, location and address, and contact info -- and for best results, a photo. Post your festivals and heritage events now!

Like those Texas Fifty-Two-Step county license plate graphics? They are available free to partners for promotional use. Click and scroll down to select, then download your desired images. Please credit Texas Plains Trail/Tomato Graphics.

Our campaign has been designed by a team of creative minds. Our thanks go to Rock Langston of Tomato Graphics, Amarillo, for the design of campaign components and to Stephanie Price of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, for the #C52NTX concept. Barbara Brannon is responsible for copywriting and the weekly newsletter. Photo credits: 1952 blue Chevy Styleline, Hemmings Motor News; 1952 red DeSoto, Daniel Schmitt & Co.; 1952 blue Chevy rear 3/4 view, Walt Pinkston.

DID YOU MISS AN ISSUE?
Every week's issue is archived on our website.   Click here and scroll to search and download your county!
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Texas Plains Trail Region | 806.747.1997 | E-mail | Website
Barbara A. Brannon, Executive Director

Copyright © 2015-18 Texas Plains Trail Region. All Rights Reserved.