Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Texas Panhandle, Part 3: Cemeteries

Cemeteries are one of my favorite photography subjects in any territory.  In the Texas Panhandle there's one for every little town, and some just out in the middle of nowhereflat open spaces surrounded by chainlink fences, filled with headstones and curb stones, maybe some windblown trees, and always a few flowers.

This one (below) is the family cemetery of Charles Goodnight, the "father of the Texas Panhandle," who founded the first commercial cattle ranch in the Panhandle south of Amarillo in 1876.

Image made on an earlier trip, August, 2014.

Goodnight was the original, and in many respects quintessential, Texas cattle rancher.  With his partner John Adair, he formed and managed the JA Ranch in Palo Duro Canyon (about which more in my next post), growing it to over one million acres and 100,000 head of cattle by 1885.  Goodnight was the inspiration for the characters in Larry McMurtry's novel, Lonesome Dove.  A brief biography can be found at the Texas State Historical Association website here.

As celebrated in a song by Ian Tyson (of Ian and Sylvia, for those of you old enough to remember), those who visit Goodnight's grave traditionally bring a bandana and tie it to the fence surrounding the family plot:

                                                    On the Llano Estacado
                                            Not far from Amarillo
                                            Big trucks roll and the wind blows
                                            Mostly all of the time
                                            Way out on the prairie
                                            In a lonely cemetery
                                            Wild rags flutter and the winds sigh
                                            Over Charles Goodnight's grave.

                                            Bandanas blue and yellow
                                            All the shades of Palo Duro
                                            Where they come from I do not know
                                            Maybe riders on the wind
                                            All along the fence line
                                            Like some old time cowboy's shrine
                                            Wild rags flutter and the winds sigh
                                            Over Charles Goodnight's grave.

The song mentions a couple of other significant features of the Texas Panhandle:  trucks and Palo Duro Canyon.  I'll do the next two posts on these topics, with the Canyon first.

In the meantime, if you would like to see these images in a larger format, visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.


1 comment:

  1. Fantastic images and storytelling - a rich experience you have shared / Barry