Preserve America Community:
Crosbyton, Texas, (population 1,767) is in a productive dairying and farming area east of Lubbock. Prehistoric nomadic hunters, Southern Plains Cheyennes, Kiowas, and Comanches lived in the region, and the Spanish explorer Vasquez de Coronado traveled the area in 1541. Once a “cattle cutting grounds” amid vast tracts of rangeland, development of the area and adjacent land started in 1882. By 1909 much of the land was controlled by land developers and speculators who conducted successful campaigns to bring new settlers to West Texas. The area was promoted as a great cotton-growing region, and innovative farmers learned techniques to make the rich, dry land productive. Crosbyton became the county seat in 1910 and a few months later the first train left on the Crosbyton-South Plains Railroad.
From World War I through the 1920s the population of Crosbyton and Crosby County grew steadily. The Great Depression contributed to the 8.9 percent decrease in county population between 1930 and 1940, though the town of Crosbyton increased in population and gained roughly 20 more businesses. Crosbyton’s first hospital opened in August 1947, and the Crosbyton Municipal Airport was dedicated in 1975.
A marketing center for hogs, wheat, and grain sorghum, Crosbyton was also at one time the home of the world’s largest cotton gin. In the 1970s Texas Tech University received a large federal research grant for a solar power project at Crosbyton and constructed a 65 foot mirrored dish, at the time the largest single solar collector in the world.
Crosbyton’s latest preservation achievement involves the Crosbyton Inn, the area’s first hotel and a Texas historic landmark. The original building was constructed in 1908 and the current three-story brick building in 1926. It was bought during WWII by local businessman (and son of a Crosby County pioneer) W. P. Lamar and renamed the Lamar Building. Lowrie Drugs was the longtime downstairs tenant, while the upper floor housed doctors’ offices and apartments.
The city of Crosbyton, the Rio Blanco Heritage Foundation, and a Texas Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant enabled the rehabilitation of this downtown landmark. Now the Prairie Ladies Multi-Cultural Center, it was dedicated in 2006 and houses an old-fashioned soda fountain and sandwich shop, a bus terminal, a visitors’ center, exhibits on “prairie ladies” and transportation, performance space, chamber offices, and a conference room.
Other attractions include the Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum and Mount Blanco Fossil Museum. The Pioneer Museum is home to some 45,000 artifacts, including a large collection of quilts and other household items and a mural depicting the history of Crosbyton. The museum’s façade is a replica of the first home on the West Texas Plains.
Crosbyton is featured in the Texas Plains Trail Region promotional material and participates in Texas Yes!, a marketing initiative of the Texas Department of Agriculture which supports rural communities in their tourism efforts through workshops and an online Guide to Rural Texas Destinations. Crosbyton also hosts a cowboy gathering each October.
For more information
City of Crosbyton: www.cityofcrosbyton.org
Crosby County Pioneer Museum: www.crosbycountymuseum.comTexas Yes! Rural Initiative: www.texasyes.org
Posted March 18, 2009