As you drive into our little town, you pass a sign that reads “Welcome to Quitaque, (“kitty quay.)” You will find other folks who pronounce it “kit-ta-kway.”
But no matter how you pronounce it, you are coming into our small town of 432.
I was born and raised in Quitaque and moved away for work. When I retired and moved back, as have several of my classmates, I moved back to not only escape the large city traffic, crime, and stress, but to enjoy all the traits our Texas rural communities still have. I know my neighbors as well as the town officials, and I don’t worry about locking the car or house every time I go out. Don’t get me wrong, we have our problems like everyone else — but not as many.
We hope you find our web site “user friendly” so you can find out all about Quitaque.
We are located on Texas Highway 86 just 45 miles east of Tulia, Texas (Tulia is on Interstate 27 between Amarillo and Lubbock), and 56 miles west of Childress, Texas (Childress is on US Highway 287 between Fort Worth and Amarillo). (Click here for maps)
Quitaque is not only located in the midst of some of the most beautiful scenic landscapes found anywhere, it also has a very colorful history. Let’s start with today and take a short walk back through the history of Quitaque through the days of Charles Goodnight to the Comancheros.
Our rural community is a business center for the Quitaque valley with two restaurants, a variety of bed and baths, a grocery store, a bank, a gift shop, a hardware store, churches, a newspaper, a farm store, mechanic shops, and several other businesses. (Click here for businesses) You will see many vacant buildings in the downtown area. Being proud of the community, our local citizens have been keeping them up. In 2006 we built a new 6,000 square foot community building which is being used on a regular basis.
The Texas Department of Transportation completed new streets and sidewalks in 2007 along with improved highways into our small community of Quitaque and the road to Caprock Canyons State Park.
“We the Women” had 12 new street lights installed on our main streets in the two blocks downtown in 2009, which is a nice touch to the new sidewalks.
“Tri-County Meals” has completed a new building in 2010, that will provide meals to four rural communities in our three county area. The communities are Flomot, Turkey, Silverton & Quitaque located in Briscoe, Hall & Motley counties. They will provide 75 – 100 noon meals each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to shut-ins located in and around those communities.
We serve as the entrance to Caprock Canyons State Park, with its 1.8 million dollar visitors center which was completed in 2007. We also have the Caprock Canyons Trailway Park going through our community, which is a hiking, biking and horse riding trail replacing 60 miles of the old railway from South Plains to Estelline. The trailway is being upgraded with a nicer surface for bicycles and horses and should be completed this year, 2010.
Quitaque had more than 61 businesses, which included not only those above but new car sales lots, major brand gasoline stations, a laundromat, a lumber yard, furniture stores, dry-goods stores, variety store, dry cleaners, theaters, boot & shoe repair, and three grocery stores. We had all the small town activities, because you just did not drive sixty to one hundred miles to shop and spend your money. We had parades and special matinees on Saturday at our in-town theater. Our drive-in theater had speakers that fit on the car windows and a great concession stand. We even had our own hospital and health clinic. (Click here for Quitaque businesses in 1950s) We relied on the small farmers and their crops as well as the ranchers in the surrounding area for our major source of income. I was very privileged to have grown up in Quitaque’s heydays of the 1950s.
Four miles south of Quitaque is the Valley of Tears (Valle de las Lágrimas), a long, narrow swale at the intersection of the Cottonwood and Los Lingos creeks. Legend has it that during the mid-1800s travelers passing through the vast unsettled countryside would often hear the wailing of mothers and children who had been kidnapped by Indians and brought to this secluded area to be separated from each other and sold. (Click here for the full story in the Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas)
The first settler in the area was the Comanchero trader José Piedad Tafoya, who operated a trading post on the site from 1865 to 1867, trading dry goods and ammunition to the Comanches for rustled livestock.
In 1877 George Baker drove a herd of about 2,000 cattle to the Quitaque area, where he headquartered the Lazy F Ranch. Charles Goodnight bought the Lazy F in 1880 and introduced the name Quitaque, which he believed was the Indian word for “end of the trail.” According to another legend the name was derived from two buttes in the area that resembled piles of horse manure, the real meaning of the Indian word. Another story is that the name was taken from the Quitaca Indians, whose name was translated by white settlers as “whatever one steals.”
The Quitaque Ranch covered parts of Briscoe, Floyd, and Hall counties. In 1882 a post office was established at ranch headquarters on Quitaque Creek, in what is now Floyd County. By 1890 the town reported forty residents. When Briscoe County was organized in 1892, the post office was moved to the current location of Quitaque, and the town site was surveyed and platted. Settlers had moved into the area by 1890. In 1891 A. R. Jago built a store there and the first cotton crop was harvested. A school was opened southwest of Quitaque in 1894 and moved to the town site in 1902. In 1907 the Twilla Hotel opened. By 1914 the town reported seventy-five residents, a bank, and three general stores. In the 1920s Amos Persons, president of the First National Bank of Quitaque, succeeded in getting the Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway branch line routed through the town. In 1927 Quitaque was incorporated with P. P. Rumph as mayor, and on November 20, 1928, the first train arrived.