Geographical landmarks such as mountains, lone trees or isolated mesas, were very important to explorers and travelers as they found their way through unknown territory. In the Texas Panhandle, South Plains and counties east of the Llano Estacado, a new form of landmarks have been planted. The Quanah Parker Trail was developed and directed by members of the Texas Plains Trail Region board and Quanah Parker Trail Committee. The Quanah Parker Trail links rural and urban communities throughout the 52-county region under a program which honors the legendary Comanche warrior and cattleman Chief Quanah Parker. Each community that has an arrow on the Quanah Parker Trail has discovered something of interest or a historic place which tells a part of Quanah’s life thus becoming a special landmark on the trail. The QPT honors the effort of local historical commissions, museum exhibits, historic geographical sites and trails and even local events from the past and the present.
According to Plains Trail Board member and Quanah Parker Trail Committee member, Holly Humphries, “Each stop on the Quanah Parker Trail tells a part of our region’s connection to the history of the Native Americans, primarily the Comanche and Kiowa Indians, who were the last to roam the Texas Panhandle Plains during the late 1870s.”
More specifically, the board commissioned giant arrows to rain down as landmarks. The late sculptor, Charles Smith, of New Home, Texas, crafted the 22-foot-tall, steel, Comanche arrows, thus providing a beautiful QPT marker for each community partner. Each participating community of the Quanah Parker Trail displays the brightly painted red, blue and yellow arrows as physical reminders to stop, explore and learn more about the history of the Texas Plains Trail Region.
The Quanah Parker Trail was launched in October 2010 with an interactive website, QuanahParkerTrail.com which provides the history of Quanah Parker and the Comanches and links to each Quanah Parker Trail community. By clicking on the star map visitors will find information and directions to the numerous locations on the QPT. To date, there are over 88 steel arrows that make up the trail. Almost every arrow has a granite marker detailing the significance of the location. The QPT Committee and Texas Plains Trail Board will be working to complete the granite marker project in 2022.
In 2019, the 86th Legislature of the State of Texas designated the second Saturday in September as Quanah Parker Day to remain in effect until the 10th anniversary of the date. Each year, the Texas Plains Trail Region and Quanah Parker Trail Committee encourages communities with arrows to celebrate this occasion. The Plains Trail has hosted past events in the region to honor this day and looks forward to more celebrations in years to come. More details for this year’s celebration on September 11, 2021, can be found on TexasPlainsTrail.com.
The Texas Plains Trail Board is hopeful that travelers, visitors and members of the communities will discover and celebrate their connection to the era of Quanah Parker and the Lords of the Plains.
By Dolores Mosser and Allison Kendrick