If you find yourself cruisin' the long Texas highways south of Amarillo and North of Lubbock, and are looking for a great place to stop and enjoy the rugged canyon country, stop in at the Turkey Hotel. They also operate a number of RV spaces across the street.
It seems as though no one knows for certain when the first white man stepped onto the banks of Turkey Creek in the Panhandle region of Texas. But we do know that what he found were a bunch of wild turkeys roosting there.
Not long afterward, the settlement of Turkey Roost was formed and began to farm the countryside. Combined with the abundant wild game, including turkey, deer and buffalo, life was good.
In 1927, when the Fort Worth & Denver Railway came to town, life got better. A $50,000 hotel was constructed along with a number of support businesses to handle the economic boom of the region. The community had found a purpose in the prairie country, and local farmers found a way to move their goods to new and distant markets.
The community boomed over the years, at least until the great Depression, and at one point residents numbered more than a 1,000 men, women and children.
Turkey is no longer a major rail stop and not nearly as many people live there now. But there are still plenty of things that grow in the earth and hunting wild game is still a way of life, not to mention a boost for the local economy.
Welcome to Turkey, Texas, perhaps best known for its famous singing native, Bob Wills - band leader, organizer of the famous Texas Playboys, forerunner to the rock-n-roll movement, musical originator and the undisputed King of Western Swing. If for no other reason, Turkey has earned a permanent place on the Texas map.
(Listen to a Sample Medley from Bob Wills
as you read the remainder of this article)
Bob Wills' name will forever be associated with Western swing. In the process, he reinvented the rules of popular music. Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys were a dance band with a country string section that played pop songs as if they were jazz numbers. Their music expanded and erased boundaries between genres. It was also some of the most popular music of its era. Throughout the '40s, the band was one of the most popular groups in the country and the musicians in the Playboys were among the finest of their era.
Bob Wills Day is celebrated each year in the spring season in Turkey when 10,000 plus swing fans pour into the community to remember the music and songs of the great Texas Playboy.
In addition to great music and abundant hunting opportunities, nearby Caprock Canyons State Park offers plenty of great outdoor activity including hikes through the rugged and pristine countryside.
A visit to the park offers grand views of the cliffs and ravines for a close-up look at geology "in action" and a 10,000 year-old Native American buffalo kill and butchering site. Today the state's largest herd of bison live in the park. Hikers can explore the many miles of trails that climb up canyons to beautiful viewpoints. Horses are also allowed on some trails. A small lake offers fishing, boating and swimming opportunities.
The harsh, yet beautiful terrain at Caprock Canyons supports a wide variety of activities for a wide range of abilities.
The 64-mile, 1,200-acre Caprock Canyons Trailways System is the product of a rail-to-trail conversion. Open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, the trail stretches into the Red River Valley and traverses three counties, 54 bridges and the last active railroad tunnel in Texas. The 13 mixed-use trails in the park total about 28 miles. They range in difficulty from some level paths to steep tracks fit only for rugged adventurers. One-way trekkers can hire shuttle services on the trailway. Trekkers must bring their own water supply.
And let's not forget about the Hotel Turkey, actually the Historic Hotel Turkey Bed & Breakfast, a unique historic hotel operated by owners Jim and Mona Boles. The innkeepers are always happy to welcome a new guest and can tell you just about anything you want to know about Turkey and the lower Panhandle region.
The historic building, a registered national landmark, offers comfortable rooms decorated in extreme Texas style. You'll find the hotel accommodating and the conversation lively. Contact the Hotel here.
Anytime of the year, Turkey is a great Texas destination that deserves discovery.