Rand McNally designates the 3 Texas highways connecting the towns of Dickens and Stinnet as scenic. Being a scenic route fan, I always view Rand’s dotted roads as must-drive, personal challenges. So in winter, 2014, Ruth and I drove 207 from about 10 miles south of Claude and then 86 to Turkey on the day after a major ice storm. Rand was right. It was 5 Compass scenic. But I couldn’t, in conscience, write about the entire route until I experienced the rest. That happened in January, 2015, with the temperature hovering around 32º. There had been 700 weather-related accidents in Fort Worth the day before and snow was a constant threat, but we made it. However, we learned that we had already seen the best parts of 70/86/270 in 2014.
Texas Highway 70 from Dickens north to Turkey was mostly 4 Compass scenic. There were long stretches of highway with ranches on both sides and a few small cattle towns like Matador for distraction. Several failed homesteads flashed by, and we stopped at a ghost town 8 miles north of Matador. At its height, Whiteflat, Texas, had 4 grocery stores, 2 cafes, 2 cotton gins, etc, but the last grocery store and service station closed in 1968. At the Motley County line, a miles long vista, land seeming without end, loomed ahead. We crossed the South Pease River and a couple of anemic frozen streams and the road became, at intervals, roller coaster fun with dips, rises, and curves. None of Roaring Springs 234 people came out to wave to us.
Nearing the town of Turkey, we saw running horses, lots of dormant cotton fields, and a decorative sign announcing that this town of 400 souls was once the home of Bob Wills. The inventor of Western Swing and its King lived on a farm near Turkey for 2 years. Hopping a freight at age 16, he didn’t return until he was in his 20s and a barber and developing fiddle master. Wills considered Turkey his hometown, but by 1929 he was living in Fort Worth. Wills, who has been inducted into both the Country and Rock & Roll Halls of Fame, had a string of hits, toured successfully with his band, the Texas Playboys, and died in 1975. The record he was working on at the time was completed and released. The Texas Playboys’ tour bus is in Turkey as is a Bob Wills Museum. The name of one store made me laugh–This & That. Mostly That.
The Highway 86 section of this scenic route has one major, must-see stop, Caprocks Canyon State Park, which I blogged about on April 10, 2014, under the title “Captivating Caprocks Canyon”. To read about its buffalo and beauty, type Texas State Parks in Roadsrus’ Search Window. Turkey’s closed-for-winter Mid Way drive-in theater was on 86 just west of town, and not too far down the road we had our 1st glimpse of distant mountains. By the time we were in Quitaque, an impressive escarpment dominated the western horizon.
Highway 207 is the scenic star of this route because it passes through a couple of truly breathtaking parts of lower Palo Duro Canyon. Despite the cold, the scenery quickly had me out of the rental taking too many photos.
We drove all the way to Stinnet but, truly, 207 from Claude north wasn’t all that scenic, the road was rough, and the towns were not that appealing. Oh, there were some grand ranches, almost beautiful vistas, and a few roller coaster stretches. But the largest town on the entire route, Borger, proved to be a huge petrochemical center. If your idea of grand scenery is refineries close enough to the road to see and smell, then you’ll be glad you followed this route all the way to its dotted end.