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Day Trips

Outnumbered buffalo hunters held off Plains Indians at this battle site

By Gerald E. McLeod, Fri., Dec. 21, 2012

Adobe Walls
Adobe Walls
Photo by Gerald E. Mcleod

Adobe Walls, about 100 miles northeast of Amarillo, has melted into the buffalo grass-covered prairie between low hills to the west and a small mesa to the east. Granite monuments are the only indications that this was the site of a pivotal battle between the Plains Indians and encroaching buffalo hunters.

The battle, which took place on June 27, 1874, is one of the iconic engagements of the Old West. Barricaded in three adobe buildings, 28 men and one woman held off hundreds of mounted warriors. One of those present was gambler William Barclay "Bat" Masterson.

On the other side, Quanah Parker led a coalition of tribes. There were probably around 250 Indians, though the number was often exaggerated. The medicine man had promised the power to stop bullets and an easy victory.

The battle went badly for the Indians from the start. Fortified behind the thick sod walls, the buffalo hunters had high-powered rifles. Billy Dixon used one of the Sharps rifles to knock an Indian off his horse from almost a mile away. The warriors soon slipped away to fight another day. It was the beginning of the end for the nomadic Plains Indians.

The Adobe Walls site is now on the Turkey Track Ranch, 27.6 miles northeast of Stin­net­t. In 1929, the state moved Dixon's grave to the site. For directions, contact the Hutch­in­son County Museum in Borger at 806/273-0130 or www.hutchinsoncountymuseum.org.


1,116th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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