On State Highway 152
Wheeler, Texas: population 1,462
Jericho on 66
Where in the 806 can you learn about an old Texas fort, see an Apollo 12 flight log, and visit a Mother Road ghost town?
You can do it in a one-day trip to the eastern Panhandle, with three stops. First up:
Mobeetie began in the late 1800s at the intersection of cavalry units, buffalo soldiers, hunters, settlers and Native Americans.
This Panhandle “Mother City” in Wheeler County is history itself. The oldest town in the Texas Panhandle, it began as Hidetown, a trading post in 1874. The town moved closer to Fort Elliott in 1875, and then moved two more miles north around 1930 to meet the
new railroad line—the reason there is an “Old” Mobeetie and a “New” Mobeetie.
Residents there maintain the Old Mobeetie Jail Museum, a one-room schoolhouse and other buildings that evoke an earlier time. Irish stonemasons built the old jail in 1886 with rock from a nearby quarry.
Upstairs, you’ll find artifacts unearthed from the fort site, tools used by buffalo hunters, and biographies of Black cavalry troops, often called “buffalo soldiers.” Other displays depict life in the notoriously rough and rowdy young settlement. The ground floor shows how the sheriff worked and lived beneath the jail.
Southwest of Mobeetie lies Wheeler, Texas.
The Wheeler Historical Museum also shares the history of the county. But it surprises visitors with a collection of photographs, artifacts and artwork by the late Apollo astronaut and painter, Alan Bean, who was born in the town.
A gallery of Bean’s artwork, in which he incorporated moon dust, also displays written personal memories he wanted the pieces to convey about his time in space.
Slightly south of I-40, you can visit Jericho on 66, a ghost town on the old alignment of Route 66. A few years ago, Amarillo couple Blair and Blanca Schaffer purchased a site containing the bones of an old motor inn and have been cleaning it up for Mother Road devotees who stop to take photographs.
Blair Schaffer’s family history traces back to a time when Jericho was an active town, complete with a schoolhouse, hotels and other businesses. Check out the Jericho on 66 Facebook page for information on future plans and occasional camping opportunities.
Visit Panhandle PBS—panhandlePBS.org and the station’s social media—for video highlights of these locales.
Artifacts gathered where Fort Elliott once stood near Mobeetie, Texas, give a glimpse of the workings of the cavalry station of the late 1800s. The materials are on display at the Old Mobeetie Jail House Museum.
Encouraged by his fellow astronauts, Apollo 12 and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean painted his experiences on the moon. Displays of his art, photographs and artifacts from his life are housed in the Wheeler Historical Museum at Wheeler, Texas.
You’ll find Astronaut Alan Bean’s Apollo 12 flight plan and other artifacts from his life on display at the Wheeler Historical Museum in Wheeler, Texas, where Bean was born.
Blair Schaffer discusses discoveries made as he and his wife, Blanca, and volunteers have cleaned up an old motor court once in the town of Jericho, Texas, on the old alignment of Route 66. Mother Road enthusiasts often stop there to take photos, he says.
Brick & Elm offers these insider tips to make the most of your visit to Mobeetie, Wheeler and Jericho. Fuel up and grab snacks for the road at an Amarillo Pak-a-Sak before your adventure!
Cowboy’s Oasis Restaurant (14810 Hwy. 152, Mobeetie) is surrounded by fields and cattle in the middle of nowhere, but open for breakfast and lunch. Diners rave about the breakfast, hamburgers and fries, and friendly service.
Maxey’s Steakhouse (7789 US Hwy. 83, Wheeler) is owned by a Wheeler native and dates back to 1984. Locals love the Thursday Fish Fry (an all-you-can-eat shrimp and catfish meal) and the Maxey’s Special (sirloin chunks deep-fried in curry-flavored sauce).
Mel’s Diner (704 W. Oklahoma Ave., Wheeler) has a hometown diner atmosphere locally famous for its large menu and comfort food (chicken-fried steak, rolls, philly sandwiches and onion rings). Don’t miss the pie.
Soto’s Family Restaurant (708 E. Oklahoma Ave., Wheeler) is a beloved neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Reviewers say the service is great and the burrito supreme is fantastic.
Baymont Inn and Suites (1414 S. Alan Bean Blvd., Wheeler) is a standard chain hotel located on Highway 83 on the south side of town.
The Hill House at Quail Creek Ranch (6 miles north of Wheeler) is a cute, quiet three-bedroom home available on Airbnb, located on a working ranch.
The Castaway Intersection (FM1268, Mobeetie) is the rural crossroads that serves as the final scene of the Tom Hanks film Castaway. It was filmed at the intersection of roads 48 and 1268, nine miles north of Mobeetie.
Custer on the Sweetwater Historical Marker (7795 US-83, Wheeler) notes the place along Sweetwater Creek where, in 1869, George Armstrong Custer rescued two Kansas women who had been kidnapped by Cheyenne and Sioux tribes.
Washita Battlefield National Historic Site (18555 Hwy 47A, Cheyenne, Oklahoma) is worth a 45-minute drive northeast of Wheeler into Oklahoma. This loop trail is serene and popular with birders, and takes hikers near the location of a controversial attack on a southern Cheyenne camp in 1868 by Custer’s 7th U.S. Calvary.
Pak-a-Sak (1701 N. Hobart, Pampa) serves as a convenient restroom and fuel stop on the way back to Amarillo.