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White Deer Land Museum

116 S. Cuyler

Pampa, TX 79065


Alanreed was known as "Gouge Eye"

Real Audio by Eloise Lane


As early as 1884 townsite lots in the area of present Alanreed were being sold by the Clarendon Land and Cattle Company. The community was once called Springtank or Springtown because of a large tank of water fed by a spring. It was also known as Prairie Dog Town because of an abundance of the animals.

Several miles to the north of present Alanreed, a stage stand known as Eldridge was located on the Concord mail and stage route (1875-1886) from Wichita Falls to Dodge City. A buckboard and mules were kept at the stand in readiness for people following that route. On March 20, 1886, the first post office in Gray County was established at Eldridge to serve a population of 58 people residing on surrounding ranches. (Historical marker on FM 291).

Jones Pierson (R.P.) Reeves, perhaps the earliest settler in southern Gray County, came to the area 15 years before the railroad. In 1890, he filed on two sections of land three miles south of present McLean. He first saw future McLean as a high knoll covered with buffalo bones and could count on one hand the number of people living in the vicinity. He said that in the late 1890s, the southern portion of Gray County was a Garden of Eden. The rains came on schedule in spring and summer and the snows were perfect in winter.

Pierce and Sue Reeves were living in a half-dugout in 1897 when they almost froze to death during a blizzard. The only thing that saved them was cutting down a tree and poking it through a window into the fireplace. They kept it burning by poking it until the blizzard blew itself out.

R.P. Reeves was the second sheriff of Gray County. He served as sheriff and tax collector in 1907-08 and 1909-10.

F.R. McCracken, who came to the plains in 1886, said that the country was covered with grass so high that only the head and shoulders of a man riding horseback could be seen. On his ranch he could see only the backs of running deer and antelope as they jumped.

The Cheyennes had a reservation near Mobeetie and would sometimes be permitted to leave on hunting trips. On one of these trips a band of Cheyennes decided that cattle from the McCracken ranch would be easier to kill than antelope or deer. For two or three days they killed off stock. McCracken got in touch with Alfred Rowe who told officers at Fort Elliott (1875-1890) about the trouble. Soldiers came in army wagons, piled the Indians in, and took them back to Fort Elliott. The Indians were never permitted to go on hunting trips again.

Alanreed has another connection with Indians for it was near the town that the Battle of McClellan Creek occurred on November 8, 1874. At this time Julia and Adelaide German, captives of a band of Cheyennes, were rescued by United States cavalrymen commanded by Lieutenant Frank D. Baldwin. (Historical markers at Lefors and near Lake McClellan).

In 1902, the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Texas Railroad Company (Chicago, Rock Island and Northern Gulf) extended its line from Texola into Amarillo, then a village of 4,000 persons. The preceding year (1901) the town of Alanreed was laid out by a railroad engineer who located it on a ridge to avoid the necessity of building culverts.

W.H. Craig, owner of a house built squarely on the ridge, claimed that rain falling on the south side of his house ran into White Fish Creek in Donley County, while rain on the north side ran into McClellan Creek in Gray County.

Although the altitude of Alanreed is 2,993 feet, lower by 241 feet than that of Pampa, Alanreed appears to be on higher ground than Pampa.

In The Pampa News, June 11, 1939, Brownwood Emerson stated that Alanreed was named for two railroad executives whose last names were Alan and Reed.  (This seems likely because of the spelling of Alan). However, there are speculations that the name came from the contracting firm of Allen and Reed or from the name of a mulatto Negro who worked for the railroad. The voting place for Gray County's Precinct 4, as set up by Roberts County Commissioners Court in May, 1902, was in the home of Allen Reed.

The Eldridge post office was moved from a tent on McClellan Creek to a wooden structure in Alanreed and became the Alanreed post office on April 24, 1902. Robert Y. Mangum was postmaster at the time.

Tom (T.J.) Roby established the first saloon in Alanreed because he knew that there would be one and he felt that if he operated a saloon for the railroad men he could at least run it decently. The citizens petitioned a county wide election prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors, and on December 10,  1902, Roby voted himself out of business because he, was one of the principal dry vote supporters.

In the early 1900s, the community center of Alanreed consisted of the depot and post office. A number of people met every train, although larger crowds congregated at 2:30 and 10:00 p.m. on summer Sundays. An adventure for boys and girls was to ride the train to McLean and back; a round-trip ticket could be purchased for 25 cents, Reeves Lake, which provided shade trees and water to float small boats, was a gathering place for Sunday outings and picnics.

At some time, the two Gray County towns of McLean and Alanreed acquired the nicknames "Rusty Shanks" and "Gouge Eye" respectively. According to one legend, these two nicknames originated as a result of a fight between a boy from McLean and one from Alanreed. The McLean cowboy used a pair of rusty spurs on his opponent, and the Alanreed gouged out an eye of his foe with his fingers. Hence, the nicknames of "Rusty Shanks" and "Gouge Eye."

At one time Alanreed was considered to be the metropolis of Gray County.  When the county was organized in 1902, Alanreed missed being the county seat by only two votes. Possibly George Tyng was referring to Alanreed as Choctaw when he was explaining (December 24, 1901) to Frederic Foster how the county seat would be selected. Tyng wrote that of the 175 qualified voters, Choctaw had 61 votes, Center (Lefors) had (at most) 20 votes and Pampa had 55 votes.

Seven of the first 1.0 births recorded in organized Gray County and 11 of the first 25 were of babies born to parents in and around Alanreed. The first 25 were recorded in a period of three years.

One of the first stores in Alanreed was that of Barnhart and Simkins. Pat and Jake Stubbs put in a lumber yard in 1902. J.H. Hill, a pioneer in area agriculture, had one of the first orchards. Albert Bruce, Sr., a Baptist minister, originated several fruit trees. J.T. and W.H. Blakney operatrd a big red brick store. W.A. Ball and Son (W.J. Ball) established the "Old Red Store." G.E. Castleberry was a dealer in real estate. Dr. J.A. Coppedge was the first medical doctor and drug store operator.

In its "hey-day" when Alanreed was the largest town in the county, the shipping center was in full swing. Ranchers from central Gray County and even farther north came to buy their supplies and ship their hogs and cattle from the railway center. From five to six carloads of watermelons were shipped each year. The melons, a large variety, weighed from 45 to 70 pounds apiece.  These were raised and shipped for $10 to $15 per ton. Farmers raised poultry and brought in from 35 to 40 cases of eggs weekly along with large quantities of cream and butter from their dairies.

In 1925, Paul Bruce, son of Albert, Sr., bought land north of Alanreed and started a nursery and truck farm. In 1930 he began to build a home of petrified wood obtained from the petrified remains of a great forest south of Alanreed. Now Paul's son Robert and his wife Anita live at the nursery and carry on the family business. Burl and Pat Stubbs of Lubbock bought the petrified wood house in 1974 and renamed the spot on McClellan Creek "Hidden Valley Ranch."

The bank at Alanreed was robbed twice. The first robbery was by two boys who lived near Goldston (near Clarendon in Donley County). They took $3,000, but were apprehended near Rockledge (six miles west of Alanreed) after they had left their car and hidden in the canyons. All of the money, except $500, was recovered about three hours after the robbery.

The second robbery occurred on August 4, 1931, when the bank was robbed of $2,300. Again the robbers were captured and all of the money, except 300, was recovered.

Alanreed began to become a "has been" about the time of the oil discoveries in Gray County and the boom development in Pampa, McLean and Lefors. The dustbowl era and the depression also led to its decline. At its peak there were perhaps no more than 300 people living in the town itself, but both sides of the main street were filled with buildings.

The main street running north and south was a part of the Postal highway which put Alanreed on the Amarillo-Oklahoma City route. The Postal highway was the ancestor of the Will Rogers highway through Alanreed. But the town has been bypassed --- by Highway 66 and Interstate 40.

Highway 66 moved to the north of the town. In the early 1930s, Alanreed was known far and wide as the gateway to the "Jericho Gap," a gap in Highway 66 that was unfinished for years. The last segment of 1-40, one mile west of McLean to one mile east of Alanreed, was completed in August 1982.

The rails of the Rock Island were taken up in the early 1980s, but Alanreed still has a post office. As of 1985, a few graveled streets, scattered residences and buildings, a church, motel, service station and cafe were all that remained of the once bustling shipping center on the hilltops of the rolling pasture land in southern Gray County.