2014 Great Circle Tour travel blog

Today's route

Moo-La the cow honors the dairy industry around Stephenville, TX

Hay moving down the highway

Entrance to one of the ranches along the way

Site of the Santa Claus bank robbery in Cisco, TX

Site of the first hotel in the Hilton Chain in Cisco

Steel Texas Longhorn in Albany, TX

A Longhorn head in Albany

Airstream trailer used by the Cupcake Queens

County courthouse in Albany

Restored Sinclair gas station in Albany

Restored early '50's Dodge truck outfitted as an oil truck

Me with a giant Longhorn skull in Albany

Cattle car used to transport cattle from Bud Matthews, TX

Bud Matthews, TX

US 180 heading West

Exploration well

Cotton field along US 180

Part of the wind farm near Snyder, TX

Restored 1935 Triangle Sinclair Gas Station

Another view of the Triangle gas station

Dino the Dinosaur, the Sinclair mascot

Closer view of the Sinclair statin

Restored Chevy truck at Sinclair station

White buffalo statue in Snyder, TX

Me with the the giant arrow

New exploration rig moving into place outside of Snyder, TX

Why is a fork lift driving down the highway?

Wind turbine moving to a wind farm

One of the many production wells along US 180

Mesas begin to appear on US 180 west of Snyder

Uniroyal gal in Lamesa

Some old Chevy's in an old Chevy dealership in Lamesa

Winnie at the County Park in Lamesa, TX


Today took us from green Texas to brown Texas. The surrounding country side once you get north of I20 and west of Stephenville looks like what most people thing of when they think of Texas. It’s mostly agricultural with cotton turning into rangeland with scrub vegetation. As we went further west, the landscape also began to look more southwestern with mesas visible on the horizon. Tt seemed like we were driving uphill most of the way. The temperature reached 90.

Oil has been part of the history of the area since the early 20th Century and there is an abundance of abandoned well pumps and storage tanks along US 180, but there were also plenty of signs of new exploration and production activities also.

It was a great day for roadside attractions. Cisco, TX is the location of the first hotel in the Hilton Hotel chain. Conrad Hilton came to Cisco in the early 20th Century to buy a bank. The sale fell through and he wound up buying the Mobley Hotel which was property one in the chain that was developed first in Texas and then around the world. The Mobley is no longer there, but there is a building that houses several displays of what the rooms looked like. Nearby there is a former bank where Santa Claus tried to carry out a robbery in 1927. He was spotted through the picture windows of the bank and the police and some local folks brought their guns to the bank and a shootout ensued to end the robbery. They do a reenactment several times during the summer.

Albany, TX is the home of the Texas Longhorn herd. It is kept at Fort Griffin State Historic Site just outside of Albany so it’s no wonder that there were a lot of longhorn related things in town. Metal sculptures were the favored art form and we found three. There was also a beautifully restored Sinclair gas station with an early ‘50’s Dodge truck outfitted as an oil truck. Outside of town was Bud Matthews, TX. In 1900, the Texas-Central Railway extended a line northwest of Albany across this portion of Rose Ella (Matthews) Conrad's cattle ranch. Ella and her brother, John A. "Bud" Matthews, for whom this site is named, constructed cattle pens and a loading chute at this location. Ranchers could ship their cattle to markets in Fort Worth. As many as 105,000 head of cattle were shipped every year until the railroad ceased operations in 1967. The pens, a windmill, and a Texas Central cattle car still exist at the site.

We found the next batch of Roadside Attractions in Snyder, TX. As you drive into town there is another restored Sinclair gas station located on a triangular shaped block. The building itself also is triangular in shape. Parked at the station is a nicely restored Chevy pickup and a small version of Dino the Dinosaur, the Sinclair mascot. In town was a white buffalo statue. The story is that before there was a town, a prolific buffalo hunter shot a white buffalo at a hunting camp located near where Snyder is located today. The white buffalo killed near Snyder was one of only two known to have been killed in Texas. Across the street from the white buffalo statue was a giant arrow sticking into the ground. The arrow is part of Quanah Parker Trail that commemorates the Comanche Chief. Each arrow marks a place that was significant in his life. The one in Snyder is the 4th one I’ve seen in my travels through Texas. Only about 30 or 40 more to go.

We pulled into Lamesa and are staying at the County Park. It’s a great deal, you can stay for 3 nights for free and the fourth night costs $10. We’ll be here one night. We had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, Aceveda’s, operated by the same family since 1964. We met Margarita, the matriarch of the family. She couldn’t stop telling us about her trip to the east coast in 1979 when she found out we were from Delaware. Right next door was the final roadside attraction of the day, a Uniroyal Gal. Less than 50 Uniroyal Gals were made for Uniroyal Tire Company stores in the 1960’s.

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