The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

By Gerald E. McLeod, February 8, 2013, Columns

The Quanah Parker Trail in the Texas Panhandle might be the most spread out public art project since the Texas Historical Commission started putting metal signs with history lessons on them around the state.

At more than 35 locations in a 52-county region stretching from I-20 North to the Oklahoma border, 23-foot-tall stylized arrow sculptures mark spots with a real or legendary connection to the last Comanche war chief.

The son of Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, Quanah's footprints touched much of the Panhandle before he died in 1911. In less than a decade, he went from hated enemy to national celebrity. As a diplomat for his tribe, he helped bridge the culture gap.

Lubbock-area cotton farmer and metal artist Charles Smith designed and built the colorful metal sculptures. The first arrow was planted in Matador in 2011, a town that Quanah visited often. Another is near Seagraves, where it is believed he was born around 1845. Other locations have rather dubious connections to the Comanche legend.

The Quanah Parker Trail is a heritage tourism initiative of the THC. There is a map of the towns participating in the trail at and an incomplete list of sites at The search is part of the adventure.

1,123th 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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