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Texas Plains Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Quitaque


Quitaque
Photo by Rick Vanderpool

A TONGUE TWISTER BUT EASY ON THE EYES

In 1865 Comanchero trader José Piedad Tafoya built a trading post on the site of Quitaque, now a small Texas Plains Trail community, in order to trade goods with the area Comanche, an exchange that often included ammunition for stolen livestock. The tiny settlement that developed around the trading post was named “Quitaque” by cattleman Charles Goodnight who had already established his vast JA Ranch before buying the Lazy F Ranch nearby.

Goodnight believed the word meant “end of the trail” but, according to legend, the word actually refers to two distinct buttes along the horizon that resemble “piles of horse manure,” the real meaning of the word to local Native Americans. A third story suggests that “quitaque” was a permutation of the name of the Quitaca Indians, designated by Anglo settlers to mean “whatever one steals.”

Regardless of origin, the word today (pronounced “kitty-kway” by some and “kitt-a-quay” by others) refers to a pleasant little town on the Texas Plains. Quitaque also serves as the gateway to Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway. The state park is home to the Texas State Bison herd, the descendants of the wooly beasts once prolific across the Plains. The Trailway, a 64-mile abandoned railroad spur reconfigured as a hiking, biking, and equestrian trail, passes directly through Quitaque. The local trailheads, Quitaque East and Quitaque Depot (remains of the original wooden depot are buried beneath the trailhead location), provide outdoors enthusiasts trekking opportunities across the red soil farmland and brush country of the region.

Significant Works Progress Administration projects, both built in 1938, may be visited in Quitaque: the city park's rock wall, located south of the traffic light in downtown town, and that of the Resthaven Cemetery east of town. The cemetery is open to the public, and a small building on the site houses a directory to all burial sites.

For further details, the welcome page of the Quitaque Chamber of Commerce website provides useful local information.

View a slide show of Quitaque's Comanchero Canyons Museum and nearby Matador here.


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Read more about Quitaque in the Handbook of Texas Online.

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