Headed east on IH-40 from Amarillo on the morning of Friday, May 6. At Shamrock I turned left on US 83 and drove 16 miles north to Wheeler, Texas, seat of Wheeler County. The courthouse is located in the center of town in a green, tree shaded square. This is county #240 in my courthouse chronology.
Heading west, northwest on Texas 152, I crossed the rolling prairie of Wheeler County and soon arrived in the small crossroads community of Mobeetie, Texas, known as the "mother city" of the Texas panhandle. (I'm not kidding.) Mobeetie was the first seat of Wheeler County. A storm destroyed the town in 1898 and a few years later Wheeler, the town, became the seat. The 19th century jail is the only remaining county building in Mobeetie.
West of Wheeler County is Gray County, #241 on my courthouse trail. The county seat is Pampa, Texas.
Lunch time is always an important moment on the courthouse trail. On this day I was fortunate to drive by the Coney Island Cafe in downtown Pampa and noticed the sign. I stopped and had a memorable meal at this iconic Pampa eatery. What you should know before dining here is that everything they serve (except for the pies) comes with chili, mustard, and onions. Be forewarned!
The man sitting next to me at the counter strongly recommended the ham sandwich. So, that's what I ordered, without the onions. I ate it and a piece of pie and left with the reassuring knowledge that I'd probably never have another ham sandwich like that again... On the way out of town I stopped for a Cherry Lime at Ted's Drive-in. Then, it was on to Carson County, #242 on my list. The county seat is Panhandle, Texas, an original name if there ever was one.
I visited the Carson County courthouse late on a Friday afternoon. Needless to say, it was deserted, except for a few county employees. My standard approach when visiting courthouses is to walk around and through them and photograph whatever is visible, with the exception of people, particularly any prisoners. So, following an exterior walk-around, I made my way through the building, including the dark, but not locked district courtroom on the second floor. I could see that people were watching me, but I don't stop and greet the employees unless they approach me first. I've found from experience that stopping to talk always results in a rather lengthy chat. Not that I don't want to visit, but I'm typically on a schedule that doesn't allow for that much time. However, as I left the front door of the courthouse that afternoon, I was followed by a gentleman onto the front porch. He introduced himself as the County Judge and asked what my interest was in the Carson County courthouse. I gave him my card and explained my visit. We then had a pleasant conversation about the courthouse, it's upkeep, and other issues of common interest to us both. I told him how impressed I was by the courthouse lawn and he gave credit to a county employee who tends it. Without a doubt, the courthouse lawns in the northern panhandle are the best in Texas! Especially so when they've had sufficient rains.
Leonard G. Lane, Jr., AIA
- Chronological Order (of my visits)
- County List (alphabetical)
- Texas Courthouse Blog
- James Riely Gordon, Architect
- Eugene T. Heiner, Architect
- Henry T. Phelps, Architect
- Alfred Giles, Architect
- Corneil G. Curtis, Architect
- Wesley Clark Dodson, Architect
- Lang & Witchell Architects
- Voelcker & Dixon, Architects
- Wyatt C. Hedrick, Architect
- David S. Castle, Architect
- Page Brothers, Architects
- James Edward Flanders, Architect
- Pierce, Norris, Pace & Associates, Architects & Engineers