Long before Groom was ever established as a town, the area was first
explored by charted by Captain Randolph
Barnes Marcy in 1849 as he traveled from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Santa Fe,
New Mexico along the Canadian River. Ten years later, he would publish his
findings, including maps and illustrations in a book entitled The
Prairie Traveler: A Handbook for Overland Expeditions.
1882, Colonel B. B. Groom, an experienced cattleman from Lexington,
Kentucky, leased from the New York and Texas Land Company nearly 600,000
acres of land in Hutchinson, Carson, Gray, and Roberts Counties in the
Texas Panhandle and organized the Francklyn Land and Cattle Company.
Unfortunately, Groom's vision of the finest and most desirable cattle
ranch in the United States did not materialize for him and the company
went bankrupt just four years later. However, the Colonel would not be
forgotten, as, when the site was chosen in 1902, to be a station along the
route of the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway, it was named for him.
A general store and post office was established in the same year, a
mercantile store in 1903, and by 1906 the town boasted a barbershop, a
bank, a hotel, a lumberyard, a school, and several more new businesses.
When the town was incorporated in 1911, it had more than 250 residents. While benefiting from the oil boom of the twenties and the traffic along
it never grew beyond much more than 800 people.
The old service stations, as well as the
local farmers and ranchers, once did a big business pulling stranded
cars out of the infamous Jericho Gap, a stretch of muddy road to the
east of Groom. And, those travelers not stranded, breathed a deep sigh of relief as
they entered the small town without having fallen prey to the
treacherous piece of road.
Today, the sleepy little village of Groom is home to only about 500 people
and many of its former services that catered to Route 66 have
been closed. However, another attraction -- the Groom Cross -- stops many
a traveler along the path.
The 19-story cross, standing 190 feet tall, was built by
Steve Thomas of Pampa,
Texas in 1995. Mr.
Thomas, disgusted with the huge billboards advertising XXX pornography
locations along I-40 wanted to make a public profession of faith along the
Interstate. Inspired by a cross built by a rancher in Ballinger, Texas,
the cross was built on private property donated by Chris Britten.
Construction of the cross frame was completed
in two shops in Pampa, Texasby more than 100 welders and erected in July,
1995. The free standing Cross can be seen from twenty miles away. It is
surrounded at its base by life-sized statues of the Stations of the Cross.
Today, ten million people pass by the cross each year, and about 1,000 of
them stop each day for a closer look.
you missed the leaning tower on your way into Groom
westbound, itís worth a turnaround for a peek. 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
Texas tornado. Quite
simply, it was planned that way, making for a good
gimmick and lots of traffic
at the Tower Restaurant when travelers stopped to inquire.
Closed Gas Station in Groom,
September, 2007, Kathy Weiser.