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Donley  County
Donley County

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Clarendon Hotels


ROCKLEDGE, TEXAS
A Panhandle Ghost Community

by Delbert Trew

Donley County
Located six miles west of Alanreed, Texas 1-40 Exit 132
Take service road west to County Road 19 - ½ mile south

Rockledge, Texas Area Hotels > Amarillo Hotels

History in a Pecan Shell

Rockledge was named for the land survey known as Rockwall School Land and because of the many steep rocky walls of nearby canyons. First established as a side track for the Rock Island Railroad because it was the only area of level land available on the track right-of-way. The surrounding grasslands were parts of the Red River Cattle Company of Texas and the famous Quarter Circle Heart Ranch swindled into bankruptcy by Carhart and Sully in the early 1900s.

The site lay only one-hundred yards inside the north line of Donley County and alongside the railroad track with a county dirt road running alongside the track. A two-room clapboard house sat to the west where the railroad section foreman lived. It was served by a cistern filled from a water tank car on the railroad. A cross-tie storage shed, sporting a dirt roof, stood nearby to store railroad supplies.

In about 1905, two murders happened within seconds when a real estate agent from Amarillo met with a local rancher and his son at Rockledge to discuss a financial problem. The man from Amarillo stepped off the train and waited for the rancher to arrive in a buggy. The local section foreman and his tie crew were working nearby.

They two parties met, argued and the Amarillo man drew a pistol, shot the rancher and began running toward the railroad work crew. As the rancher fell he ordered his son to shoot the running man. The son pulled a rifle from the buggy and killed the running man. Both murders were witnessed by the work crew which loaded the bodies on the next train going east.

In 1926, a 10-inch petroleum pipe line was installed from the northern Panhandle to south Texas with a booster camp built by the sidetrack at Rockledge. A huge pump station, two large storage tanks and six homes were constructed on the site. Later the engineers discovered it was downhill from Rockledge going south with gravity doing most of the work. Three of the homes and half of the pumping capacity was moved farther down the line.

In June of 1939, after Route 66 was paved just to the north of Rockledge, two young boys robbed the bank in Alanreed, took 3,000 and fled west along Route 66 toward Amarillo. Just north of Rockledge their car engine failed and the bandits fled into the nearby Rockwell Canyons. A posse surrounded the canyons, capturing the boys in only three hours. Mysteriously, only 1,500 was recovered. No one knows where the remainder of the loot disappeared.

Three families lived at Rockledge until the mid-1980s when automated controls were installed on the pumping equipment. Today, another pipeline has been added to the original, one tank has been removed and a police radio tower marks the site. Only foundations and dead trees mark the location of this ghost community. It is on private property.

© Delbert Trew


See also
Trew Ranch hosted Rockledge rail site


by Delbert Trew
From 1900 to 1902, Rock Island Railroad built tracks from Oklahoma to Tucumcari, N.M. From today’s Jericho to Alanreed, the track followed Old Trail’s Ridge, dividing the Salt Fork of the Red River and McClellan Creek watersheds. It also was the early day mail route from Old Clarendon to Mobeetie.... more

TX Donley  County 1920s Map
Donley County 1920s map showing Rockledge N of Clarendon near Gray County line
From 1920 Texas state map #10749

Courtesy Texas General Land Office
Rockledge, Texas Area Towns:
Amarillo | Alanreed | McLean
See Donley County | Texas Panhandle

Related Topic: Texas Railroads | Route 66

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