The Texas Panhandle ~ The Town (One of Many) That I-40 Forgot
Passed through McLean, TX last night looking for a bite to eat. Too late for the Devil’s Rope and Route 66 Museums. Probably too late for McLean, that or we took the wrong exit into town. The next town down the highway, the sun having set, was presided over by the largest Christian Cross I have ever experienced: Groom, TX. We approached the cross on the back-roads at twilight. The enormity of the cross combined well with the sunset lighting: wide angle lens.
Headed into town looking for that warm bite to eat. The sun was down and the temperature was dropping. Business Route 40, maybe a misnomer, looked like it had been the main drag through town at some point in time.
A couple of grain elevators and a derelict railroad plus a main street/side street with a few businesses and the community center plus some residential side streets work together to comprise Groom, TX. On east end of town ‘The Grill’ beckoned. Good food and good company. Larry, the owner,welcomed us and gave us the low down on The Cross, I-40’s sorry impact and Texas six-man football as played by the small town high schools of the Texas panhandle. We were offered the side parking lot for the camper that night and took Larry up on his offer.
Quiet town, quiet night.
Within weeks the opening of Interstate 40, just outside of town, effectively orphaned the McLeans, Grooms and Conways of Old Route 66/US Route 40 in rural panhandle Texas; businesses closed up and people began to leave. The town, at one point with a population of 1500, is now a town of 200 plus households and 500 people, give or take.
Groom, TX has its own high school, which is a good thing. In order to field a football team they and many other small rural community schools play six-man football. A fast high scoring game according to Groom’s best ambassador, Larry Brown.
There is that feeling of community in Larry and Karen Brown’s restaurant. Lots of local folk happen by for the morning meal. Everyone knew one another. Each new local in the door went to the area seating the others and asked for and received permission to join the morning’s social gathering. An out of town trucker was made welcome as well. Larry looked after our needs and his wife Karen cooks an excellent breakfast.
Larry Brown epitomizes pride in place and pride in it’s people in this corner of Texas!
According to Larry, Zack Thomas’ father, Zack Thomas of the Miami Dolphin’s NFL football fame, built The Cross outside of Groom after being rebuffed by some larger Texas towns /cities due to height and air traffic restrictions. The Cross was a calling on the part of the driven senior Thomas. It is a 19 story, 190 feet tall free standing steel in concrete structure and can be seen for 20 miles.
The Stations of the Cross in life-size metal and wood sculptures ring the huge cross. Marble benches for rest and reflection abound. Sculpted renderings, a library and more.
The Cross by the light of day.
A beautiful and heartfelt site. Much time, effort and expense have resulted in a magnificent Christian monument of art, steel and concrete.
My guess is the town of Groom, TX has been blessed with and by The Cross’ proximity. Which is a grand thing.
Leaving Groom we got lost on Old RT 66 looking for the Punch Buggie memorial in Conway, TX. Not much of anything in Conway, TX. Ended up on a TX Farm Road paralleling I-40 but it was way off in the distance. Eventually we found our way, but we never found the Punch Buggies.
Continued our day’s journey through Amarillo, TX and on to Tucumcari, NM. NM Route 104 from there to Las Vegas, NM.
Climbed the way impressive Canadian Escarpment on a two lane road and are now on the High Plains plateau covered with snow. The Rockies are in view.
A shower tonight and Santa Fe tomorrow.