Better Days Are Coming

Set 4: US 249 - Dallas to Amarillo, Texas

Text and Photos Copyright ©2002 by Carolyne Butler

Views Through the Windshield Index
SET 3: Shreveport, Louisana, to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
SET 5: Amarillo, Texas, to Raton, New Mexico

You can't see it in these pictures, but the temperature during the afternoon was hovering around 105 degrees F. "But it's a dry heat!" Yeah, sure, but whenever we stopped and got out of the air-conditioned van, it felt like climbing into an oven. Maybe some folks think dry heat is a tad better than the soggy humidity such as in East Texas. Given a choice between the two, I choose neither!

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Abandoned home along railroad tracks in Texas.

Abandoned home along railroad tracks

I took this picture through the side window of the van when we stopped for gas. I don't remember where this was, but abandoned houses such as this can be seen here and there all along US 249. (And yes, it was really hot about this time of day!)


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Open road in Texas.

Typical road view, West Texas

Traffic thins out considerably in this section of Texas. Homes do too. US 249 runs from Ft. Worth toward the Texas Panhandle in a northwestly direction.


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Texas 'farm.'

Texas farm

I liked the looks of this farm. Or would you call this a "vegetable ranch"? This crop looks like it might be cotton. A productive "lawn," wouldn't you say?


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Old abandoned Texas farmhouse.

Abandoned Texas farmhouse

In the past, this particular roof style was used a lot on Texas farmhouses, most of which are abandoned today, like this one.


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Old stores in a little Texas town.

Old stores, Texas town

This antique store was in Claude. Little towns like this string out regularly along US 287 like little beads strung on a necklace between Ft. Worth and Amarillo - Henrietta, Jolly, Harrold, Chillicothe, Quanah, Kirkland, Estelline, Clarendon, Goodnight - interspersed between a few larger beads of varying sizes - Bowie, Wichita Falls, Vernon, Memphis, Childress. Many of the stores in these smaller towns are boarded up, only a memory of busier times before the population shifted away to someplace else.


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Windmill and boxcar.

Windmill and boxcar

Windmills such as this are commonly seen in Texas and New Mexico. The building is an old boxcar that has seen better days.


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Big Skies. Wide Plains.

Big skies, wide Plains

The flatness of the Plains is evident in this picture. It's that way no matter which direction you look.


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Coal train headed east.

Coal train headed east

We always see a lot of coal trains along this road. They roll east full of coal (perhaps to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area?), then return west empty. Someone told me the coal comes from Wyoming, but I don't know for sure.


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Burlington Northern-Santa Fe engine.

Burlington Northern-Santa Fe engine

This colorful Burlington Northern-Santa Fe engine was at the rear of the coal train seen in the above picture. Maybe it was helping push the load, or maybe it was just along for the ride, masquerading as a caboose.


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Train and town somewhere in Texas.

Train and Texas town

Views like this are familiar in this section of Texas. The road always seems to be climbing slightly uphill. That's probably because it is - generally. The Great Plains keep tilting upward toward the Rocky Mountains until they're a mile or so above sea level where they meet the Front Range. When we head back East from the mountains, for several hundred miles we get the reverse sensation, as if we're driving downhill.


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Amarillo, Texas, skyline.

Amarillo, Texas

We leave US 249 near Amarillo and head up into the sparsely settled Texas Panhandle for the next leg of our journey. Then on westward into northern New Mexico on the way to Colorado.

For some interesting photos of the Amarillo area taken by various people and submitted to the Amarillo Globe News, see (Two I especially like are the tornado over Palo Duro Canyon and the "Comin' At Ya" longhorns picture.) Palo Duro Canyon is an impressive anomoly, a long gash of erosion slicing across the flat Texas Plains for over 100 miles. See more about Palo Duro Canyon at and (Out of all my trips out West, Palo Duro is the only place I've ever heard coyotes howling.)


Views Through the Windshield Index
SET 3: Shreveport, Louisana, to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
SET 5: Amarillo, Texas, to Raton, New Mexico