Quanah Parker Trail


A Giant 22 foot tall Arrow, courtesy of sculptor and artist Charles Smith of New Home, Texas, landed June 10, 2014 on the Wayside Community Church grounds at Wayside, Armstrong County Texas.


Smith and community volunteers consisting of Tom Ferris and Larry Stevens installed the outdoor sculpture to highlight the history and legacy of Comanche presence in Armstrong County, Wayside, Texas, officially placing it on the Quanah Parker Trail. This cultural and heritage trail is sponsored by the Texas Plains Trail Region (TPTR), a 52-county cultural and heritage trail region designated in the Panhandle of Texas by the Texas Historical Commission.

The Arrow’s 1/4-inch steel rods, resembling the fletching of feathers, vibrate in the wind. A metal plate on the tip of the arrow with the number 74 signifies the order of placement in the 52-county TPTR.

The TPTR is one of 10 heritage regions in the state formed by the Texas Historical Commission. Heritage regions strive to develop and promote thematic cultural and heritage sites and trails for their communities. The sites and trails preserve local history and attract the interest of travelers and tourists to encourage them to come to the area for a visit.

Community leaders from the 52 counties that form the TPTR located in the Texas Panhandle wanted to develop a cultural and historical trail that uniquely characterizes it and sets it apart from all other areas of Texas. They arrived at the idea of developing a Quanah Parker Trail (QPT) in the Texas Panhandle plains region. Our region is remarkable for the fact that it was included in “The Last Frontier” among the 48 contiguous states where Native Americans last roamed freely before being removed to reservations. The trail honors historical landmarks, sites, events, and artifacts in museums that link our region to the Native Americans who last traversed the Texas High Plains. It is named after Quanah Parker to honor his role as a chief of the Comanche’s, who were regarded as the most powerful Native American presence in the region, joining as allies with other Southern Plains tribes, to include the Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache, Cheyenne, and Arapaho, to defend their way of life in the late nineteenth century. Quanah Parker is considered by many historians to be one of the most outstanding native sons of Texas. The TPTR currently is developing a Website that can be found by Googling “Quanah Parker Trail.” The goal of installing giant arrows along the QPT is to mark with a distinctive symbol each TPTR county’s connection in the past to Quanah Parker and the Comanche people, whose presence preceded the arrival of Anglo pioneer settlers.

The arrow is the creation of Charles Smith, a cotton farmer, gin operator, welder, artist and sculptor. He originally was commissioned by Gid Moore Crop Insurance Company to create an arrow based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Arrow and the Song.” This first arrow was installed about ten years ago as the first piece of an Art and Literacy non-profit sculpture park on a 7-acre site at the intersections of FM211 and FM1730 in New Home. Painted red, white, and black, the arrow rises grandly, singing in the wind. With the blessing of the great-grandchildren of Quanah Parker, the arrow and its song will now mark the Quanah Parker Trail. All other arrows to come after it will now denote each county’s place on the Quanah Parker Trail. Each arrow will be painted in the colors of red, blue, and yellow, seen on the shield that forms the official seal of the Comanche Nation.

Charles Smith, working in conjunction with the TXPTR, donated the arrows to the Quanah Parker Trail to help develop a cultural and historical trail that uniquely characterizes the region, and sets it apart from all other areas of Texas.

“Wayside has many historical connections to both recent and pre-historical Indians as evidenced by tepee rings at the head of Happy Canyon, numerous arrow heads found in the playa lakes, fields and pastures, as well as the painting under the falls at the head of Pleasant Canyon of a black Spanish bull and calf along with what appears to be a fire.” said Frances Ferris. “Old timers, Henry Hamblen, Joyce Lane, Joe Rogers and Melton McGehee told me that there were rows of tepee rings on both sides of Happy Draw where it becomes Happy Canyon at the falls but a lot of the tepee rocks on the north side were removed by a local resident without the land owner’s permission to use in a building foundation. My husband, Tom Ferris says there are still some tepee ring rocks in the thick mesquite trees there on the north side. There is one complete tepee ring opening to the east on the south side. On a visit to Texas, my half brother, Willard Clegg, went down into Happy Canyon and came back saying that he knew why the Indians came there. There was spring water and a white to clear form of rock, he called chert that could easily be made into arrows and scrapers. It definitely was not alibates flint.”

James Stockett, who initially started the Quanah Parker Trail designation for Wayside, said, “My Great Grandmother Susie Wesley McGehee and the old timers, referred to the creek in the Palo Duro Canyon where Mackenzie and the Fourth Calvary fought the Comanche, Kiowa and Cheyenne in 1874 as Am-de-bus Creek but it is listed as Antibust Creek on Armstrong County maps. I think it runs into south Ceta Canyon just before that creek enters the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.” He also said, “George Denny, who had a ranch that bordered the point where the troops and horses entered and came out with all of the captured horses, would occasionally lose a bull down in the canyon. He would go down to hunt the animal. One time he found a rifle stuck up in the ground. He was in a hurry and thought he would come back for it later. Many times he looked but never found it. “

Long time resident, Mackie Allgood, helped her Uncle Floyd Adams build a fence after County Road 8 opened near Pleasant Canyon falls. She said, “We found a lot of Indian artifacts along that road and in the fence row.

Special thanks go to the Wayside Emergency Team and Wayside community members for support for this special arrow.