to Britten - Gone Are the Glory Days
Seven miles west of
McLean on old
Route 66 is
the town of
Alanreed. When Superhighway I-40 plowed through the
Alanreed's glory days were over. However, it’s well worth the side
trip to visit this almost
envisioning what it must have been like during its heydays as a bright spot
on the old Mother Road.
stage line from
Mobeetie to Clarendon in the early 1880’s, a group of farmers decided
that it would be a fine site for a town. By 1884 the Clarendon Land
and Cattle Company began to sell lots and in 1886 a post office was
established in nearby
Eldridge, some six miles north of the present site of Alanreed. Evidently,
those early farmers and cow-punchers must have had a heck of a time
figuring out what to call the town because it was also called Springtown,
Spring Tank, Prairie Dog Town, Rusty Shanks and Gouge Eye.
though, the present town site was laid out in 1900
by surveyors of the Choctaw,
and Texas Railroad,
naming the settlement Alanreed, derived from the name of the contracting
firm, Alan and Reed. In no time, G. E. Castleberry's Land Company began to
sell parcels for $2.25 an acre.
In 1901 the
first school was built and just one year later, the post office was
moved from Eldridge and renamed
Alanreed. After the Rock Island Railroad was completed in 1903,
became a major shipping point for cattle and by 1904 the settlement
was the largest town in Gray County. That same year, the
Alanreed Baptist Church was founded. It continues to stand and serve
congregations today. It is the oldest church on
Texas' stretch of
Sign at the
Travel Center, the only
Kathy Weiser, August,
This image available for photo prints &
By 1907, the
town boasted a bank, a hotel, two churches, a
two grocery stores, a hardware store, a livery stable and a blacksmith
shop. In 1912 a new two-story school was built and by 1917 the
town had a population of 250 complete with telephone service. In
1927 with the Panhandle Oil Boom and the coming of the Mother Road,
was called home to some 500 residents. Like its neighbor McLean, Alanreed made several unsuccessful bids to be the county seat.
However, even though the oil boom and Route 66
had served to boost the population for a short period, by 1929 the
hotel and the bank had both closed.
In 1930 the Alanreed school
was consolidated with three other area schools and by
and by 1933 Alanreed's
population had dropped to just 150.
The number of residents ebbed and flowed over the
next several decades but by 1977 only about sixty residents and no
businesses remained. Today, Alanreed
is all but a
ghost town with about 50
residents and only one operating business.
Alanreed, you will pass by the oldest cemetery on Texas
Route 66 to the south. Continuing down the curving road, keep your eye out for the restored
gas station on your left-hand side. Maintained by the Texas Historic
Association, the Bradley Kiser Super "66” Service Station, built in 1930,
is a great photo opportunity. Next to the
gas station is an unmarked brick automotive garage. Throughout this small
community a number of abandoned homes and buildings can be seen in various
states of disrepair.
66 Restored Service
Station, built in 1930,
September, 2007, Kathy Weiser.
This image available for photo prints &
A bit further up the road, on your right is the
oldest church on the
Route, founded in 1904. Unfortunately, the once popular Regal Reptile
Ranch is gone. A bit further, as you near I-40, is the Crockett Service
Station and Motel, which also serves as a small trading post and a post
Alanreed is located on Old
at I-40 and FM 291,
seven miles west of McLean,
Texas and 59 miles east of
Gray County. West of Alanreed just beyond the I-40 on-ramp,
continues paved for 2.3 miles arriving at Johnson Ranch Road (exit
132) where you should re-enter
This was once
the first section of the infamous Jericho Gap that during
Route 66' heydays, trapped numerous travelers on
it's 18 mile swath of muddy black soil.
Bypassed in the
1930's, the original stretch of road is now
missing segments and is partly on private property.
Locals often benefited from the
many stranded vehicles on this stretch of the
pulling stranded cars out of the quagmire, to such a degree that there
were rumors that some locals watered down the road to increase their
Beyond Johnson Road (exit
132), old Route 66 continues paved for a while, before turning to gravel,
turning paved again, and back to gravel for about two miles. At that
point, it becomes a rutted dirt road and enters a private ranch.
old site of Jericho can be accessed by taking exit 124 south on Highway 70
about one mile. Here you can see the endings of both the Jericho-Alanreed
and Groom-Jericho sections of the Jericho Gap at County Road B.
area that would become Jericho was first inhabited when a stage stop was
established in the late 1880's along the stage route that carried
passengers and mail from Saint's Roost (modern day Clarendon) to Fort
Elliott (today's Mobeetie). There was little here at that time as the
station was composed of just a dugout and drinking water had to be hauled
in from a nearby spring.
When the Indians were removed to reservations, more people began to settle
the area and in 1894, when an unusual outbreak of Malaria killed several
settlers, the Jericho Cemetery was established.
When construction on the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Texas Railroad began
through the area, even more people settled there and the town was
officially establish ed in 1902 when the railroad established a station
there. A post office was founded that same year and the town was named for
the biblical city in Palestine. In no time, the small town began to grow
as cattle where shipped from here and passengers could take the train to
the area. When Route 66 was established through Jeriocho, it brought with
a number of gas stations, stores, and a motel. It was then that the town
gained its infamous reputation as the Jericho Gap helped the locals to
Jericho peaked in the 1930's when it boasted a population of about 100
souls, a post office, three stores, a grain elevator, a tourist court, a
service garage and a filling station.
Route 66 was moved one-half mile north, by-passing the town and
by 1939, its population had dropped in half to just 50 people. The post
office was discontinued in 1955, and by the 1980s little remained at the townsite.
Today, Jericho is a ghost town, surrounded by cattle and ghost farms. The
ruins of the old tourist court can still be seen, as well as a house and
another unidentified brick building. What little is left is located
on County Road B, just west of
Highway 70. The cemetery also remains about two miles west of the old
townsite, south of County Road B.
Return to the frontage road where you will
pass by the Leaning Water Tower to the north before entering
Britten Truck Stop
Next to the leaning water tower was once the busy Britten Truck Stop,
garage and restaurant. Though the business is long gone, the vestige
remains of the tall sign still stand next to the tower. Many people
have often wondered how this water tower came to stand this way, some
thinking that one leg of the tower is shorter than the others. Not
true, nor was the tower swept to one side by a raging
tornado. Quite simply, it was planned that way, making for a good
gimmick and lots of traffic at the Tower Restaurant when travelers stopped
water tower was once a functioning water tower, which was slated for demolition until Ralph Britten bought it and moved it to
its current location to draw attention to his truck stop and
tourist information center.
After taking advantage of the photo opportunities at "Britten, USA", travel on to
of America, updated February, 2016.
All images available for photo prints &