Highway 60, FM 1453 and FM 213
2 Miles from the Oklahoma State Line
Miles SE of Lipscomb
66 Miles NE of Pampa
Texas Area Hotels > Pampa
in a Pecan Shell|
The area has a history of Franciscan monk
Juan de Padilla operating a mission for the Indians here in the mid 1500s, although
a site has not been found. More recent history begins in 1886, when the Santa
Fe Railroad started surveying the site for an extension of the line coming out
of Wichita, Kansas.
B. H. Eldridge and E. B. Purcell are credited with
platting the town which they named after Santa Fe stockholder G. H. Higgins of
Massachusetts. A post office and school opened in 1888 and most essential businesses
soon followed, making Higgins a cattle shipping point.
Prior to becoming
famous, Oklahoman Will Rogers worked on the Ewing family's Little Robe Ranch in
the 1890s. Without a doubt, the young cowboy practiced and perfected his fancy
rope tricks here before he joined the famous Ziegfeld Follies.
had its first newspaper published in 1888 which sold out in 1897 to the "now
defunct" Higgins News.
On April 9, 1947, the event that was to become
forever linked to Higgins occurred. A tornado
or tornadoes approached Higgins from the south, after first hitting Glazier,
Texas. Forty-five people lost their lives as the storm continued up into Oklahoma
and even into Kansas.
Early records aren't available, but the town had
a population of just over 700 in the mid 1980s. By 1990 it was down to 464 and
has declined further to 425.
Will Rogers Day, introduced in 1962
continues to be an annual event.
1947 Tornado Vintage Photos > next page
Higgins Vintage Photos > next page
was Stage Station by Delbert Trew > next page
Landmarks & Images
Will Rogers Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, July 2009
progression from The Commission Creek Stage Station in 1874 to the modern-day
town of Higgins is an extremely interesting saga of Panhandle of Texas history.
and Higgins Tornado of April,
TE, The recent pictures of the Greenburg, Kansas tornado brought back memories
of the tornado that hit Hemphill County back in 1947. I was 12 years old on April
9, 1947 when I witnessed the tornado that hit Higgins and Glazier.
It was just southwest of the airport at Canadian,
Texas, where my father Thomas L. McCurdy was the airport manager. The tornado
was so large that there were five or six smaller twisters circling the main column.
The tornado was so close that the air seemed to be all sucked up. It was such
weird feeling. The main tornado lifted as it crossed the South Canadian River
but went back on the ground after reaching the north side. We were so frightened
by it, that we talked about it for hours after it had passed. The next morning
someone was banging on the door at the airport. The man who ran the paper at Canadian
was saying that Glazier was
wiped out. My dad flew the photographer over the area and took the original pictures
of the devastation. After returning to the airport, my dad flew back to Glazier
and landed on the highway to pick up two of the injured and bring them back to
the Canadian hospital. He remained in that plane for the next two days flying
people from Higgins and Glazier because the highway from Canadian to Higgins was
impassable. All the barbed wire and telephone/ telegraph lines were twisted together
and wove back and forth on the highway for many miles. Cars couldn't drive over
it because of the barbed wire, so Dad's airplane was the main lifeline between
the other two towns. On the second day the Army flew in with stretcher planes
and helped. Dadís plane was a Stinson Voyager with a stretcher in it. He could
carry one in the stretcher and one in the back seat. I donít know how many trips
he made but I know he was in the airplane for two solid days. The local gasoline
dealer brought kerosene smuge pots to the airport and lined both sides of the
runaway. They did the same in Glazier and Higgins and he flew all night long to
bring the injured to Canadian.
The basements of the Baptist and Methodist churches were filled with injured people
after the hospital had run out of room. The high school gym was also used. Even
though I was only twelve at the time, my memories of that event remain vivid.
- Otto W. (Bill) McCurdy, Houston Texas, May 14, 2007
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