Tascosa, Texas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tascosa, Texas
Ghost Town
Old Tascosa
Cowboy Capital of the Plains
State of Texas with a red reference point indicating the vicinity of Tascosa, Texas.
State of Texas with a red reference point indicating the vicinity of Tascosa, Texas.
Location within Texas
Coordinates: 35°31′52″N 102°15′20″W / 35.53111°N 102.25556°W / 35.53111; -102.25556Coordinates: 35°31′52″N 102°15′20″W / 35.53111°N 102.25556°W / 35.53111; -102.25556
CountryUnited States
Plaza Atascosa1876
3,192 ft (973 m)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (MDT)
GNIS feature ID2646624

Tascosa, sometimes called Old Tascosa, is the former capital of 10 counties in the Texas Panhandle. The town emerged briefly in the 1880s as an economic rival of Dodge City, Kansas. Located in Oldham County northwest of Amarillo, Tascosa is now a ghost town.


Tascosa, named for nearby Atascosa Creek, was rooted in a local crossing of the Canadian River, which cowboys passed on their way to the railhead and cattle markets in Dodge City. Established in 1876 by ex-soldier and blacksmith Henry Kimball, the role of Tascosa was comparable as a regional center to that of Mobeetie in Wheeler County further east. Tascosa was a town of tents and adobe, with a stone courthouse erected in 1884 at a cost of $18,000. It reached its peak in 1888 with cattle, farming, dairying, and general merchandising.[1][2]

Tascosa served the cattle ranches for a hundred miles in every direction. It was a popular rendezvous for cowhands who frequented bars and dance halls after hard labor on the sagebrush and sands of the Canadian River Valley.[1] With its gambling houses and brothels, Tascosa was visited by such Old West characters as Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. Despite a reputation for lawlessness and the lack of a church for several years, Tascosa had a considerable number of substantial citizens. The Tascosa Pioneer wrote that the community "is not half so rough as many have been led to believe ... but in general the people of Tascosa and Oldham are whole-hearted, sociable, and exceptionally civil. Law-breaking is the exception and not the rule."[3]

The post office opened on June 24, 1878.[4] By 1880, enough voters were available in Tascosa and Oldham County for purposes of organization of government. Oldham was the second county organized in northwest Texas. Nine other Panhandle counties (Hartley, Dallam, Sherman, Moore, Potter, Randall, Deaf Smith, Parmer, and Castro) were removed from Wheeler County and joined with Oldham for land and judicial purposes. Tascosa hence had a governmental role like that of Mobeetie.[1]

On March 21, 1886, the Tascosa gunfight led to the deaths of four persons. Tascosa was the site of a Boot Hill cemetery.[1]


The coming of the Fort Worth and Denver Railway was expected to revitalize Tascosa, but two miles of deep sand were between the railroad track and the town. Though the editor of The Tascosa Pioneer believed the citizens could overcome all odds against them, this physical limitation proved insurmountable.[1]

In 1893, the bridge was washed out and the flood damaged homes and businesses, so people began to move away. Two of the last residents were ex-gambler Mickey McCormick and a former dance hall girl and card dealer Frenchy McCormick. Mickey died in 1912, and Frenchy in 1941. They are buried next to each other outside town.[2]

In 1939, Cal Farley's Boys Ranch opened after Julian Bivins, son of Lee Bivins, donated the town site, the renovated old courthouse, and the surrounding 120 acres.[2]: 153, 160  The courthouse, now a museum, and the 1889 schoolhouse are the only buildings from the old town to survive into the 21st century.

Tascosa was the setting for the showdown between Lin McAdams (Jimmy Stewart) and Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally) in the 1950 American Western film, Winchester 73. Stewart also played the sheriff of Tascosa, Guthrie McCabe, in the 1961 production Two Rode Together.


According to the Köppen climate classification, Tascosa has a semiarid climate, BSk on climate maps.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Lester Fields Sheffy, The Life and Times of Timothy Dwight Hobart, 1855-1935: Colonization of West Texas (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1950), pp. 146-148.
  2. ^ a b c Archer, Jeanne; Taras, Stephanie (2009). Touching Lives: The Lasting Legacy of the Bivins Family. Tell Studios Inc. pp. 59–65. ISBN 9780974914862.
  3. ^ The Tascosa Pioneer, June 12, 1886.
  4. ^ Maverick Town: The Story of Old Tascosa, page 56
  5. ^ Climate Summary for Tascosa, Texas

External links[edit]