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Jericho

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Route 66: Jericho, Texas

Ghost Town

Jericho was once a village and railway station. Now it is a ghost town on Route 66, where only the Historic Cemetery remains in use. It was also part of the infamous and treacherous Jericho Gap, of U.S. Highway 66.

Jericho TX

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About Jericho, Texas

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 3,200 ft. (976 m). Population: n⁄a.
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Jericho is located in Donely County, in the eastern region of the Texas Panhandle.

History: Jericho's story

This region has been inhabited for over 10,000 years and Paleo-Indian Clovis style stone tools have been found in neighboring New Mexico.

In historic times, the Comanche and Kiowa roamed the plains hunting buffalo until they were defeated and placed in reservations after a short war in 1874 - 1875.

US 66 Jericho Gap dirt road
Jericho Gap; the dirt road is the old alignment of Route 66, Jericho, Texas.

Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

The Mobeetie Trail

Bison migrated south in winter and back north in spring. Their route crossed prairies where the grass grew in the fertile soil taller than a man.

Indians used these tracks to hunt bison and later white settlers moved along them, to hung buffalo and later, to move their herds into Texas.

One of these trails linked Fort Elliott which had been founded after the war, in 1875, to control the Indians and Saint's Roost (what is nowadays Clarendon, Donely County seat) in the south. Mobeetie grew next to the fort and was the main town in the Panhandle.

Along this trail, a small mail coach stop was founded in the late 1880s. It was a place to change horses and rest: Jericho.

Like most homes of those days, it was a simple Dugout.

Dugout the home of the Pioneers

A dugout was a single room dug into a low hill. The outer walls were made of sod blocks. Holes were left for the window and door, which were covered with a canvas curtain.

Cottonwood poles covered with dry grass and topped with sods formed the roof.

Donely count was created in 1876 and organized on March 22, 1882. It was named after Stockton P. Donely (1821-1871), a Texas Supreme Court Justice.

Jericho's cemetery received its first burial in 1895 and predates the town and the railway station by seven years.

The railroad to Amarillo was built between 1900 and 1902, and the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Texas Railroad Company (which later was acquired by the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway) set up the station at Jericho in 1902.

Like most stations in the Panhandle it had cattle loading ramps and a water reservoir (locomotives ran on steam engines and were very thirsty).

The station was named after the biblical Canaanite town, next to the Jordan and gateway to the Promised Land.

Jericho boasted a post office (established in 1902) and as population slowly grew it added some stores.

US Route 66

The creation of the National Highway System in 1926 with the Chicago to Los Angeles highway passing through Jericho brought some prosperity: travelers began passing through the town in growing numbers. Soon it had three stores a service station, garage and even a "tourist Court". Its local farmers shipped their grain out through the grain elevator.

Population peaked at around 100 in 1933, dwindling after that. It was a long downwards spiral: the post office closed in 1995, the tracks were abandoned and lifted in the mid 1980s, and the old buildings crumbled in disrepair. Now only crumbling walls and some concrete foundations mark the old town. The cemetery however is still in use.

USGS Map showing Jericho and U.S. Route 66, TX
A 1998 Map of the Jericho Area on Route 66, Jericho, TX. By

Interstate 40 (and the post 1930 US Hwy. 66 alignment) can be seen on the top of the map (double red line), and Jericho is in the middle. The now defunct Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway crosses the map from left to right passing through Jericho, where it used to have a station.

TX-70 runs top to bottom next to Jericho. The old alignment of U.S. Route 66 through the «Jericho Gap» is shown in blue.

Where to Stay

Being a Ghost Town means that Jericho does not have any hotels.

Try hotels in the nearest big towns: Shamrock, 40 miles (64 km) east of Jericho, or Amarillo, 57 miles (92 km) west.

Book your Route 66 hotel now
Book your Hotel along Route 66

Weather in Jericho

Weather widget for the town nearest Jericho

The weather in the Texas Panhandle region is quite dry with an average rainfall of 23 in. (616 mm). During summer, the temperature can range, on average, between 65°F (19°C) to over 90°F (30°C).

During winters, there is snow, which usually falls during early December, but may fall at any time between early September and late May.

On average about 19” of snow fall every year, but the records show exceptional snowfall of 40 inches (43 to 102 cm).

Winter mean temperature ranges from 50°F (10°C) to 25°F (-4°C).

Tornadoes: Jericho is in the "Tornado Alley" with a higher probability of a tornado strike. Read more: Tornadoes on Route 66.

Route 66 and Jericho Texas
Location of Jericho TX on Route 66

Getting To Jericho

Leave westbound I-40 at Exit 124, to take TX-70 southwards towards Jericho. After one mile, take a right and follow dirt County Road 10 (CR 10) for 1 mi. until reaching the ruins of the station. After the station, a left along CR B takes you to the Cemetery after 0.2 mi.

Jericho located after Alanreed (the fourth town along I-40 and U.S. Route 66 after entering Texas from Oklahoma).

It is miles 53 (64 km) west of the Texas - Oklahoma state line.

Heading west from Jericho, it is 57 miles (92 km) to Amarillo and 125 miles (201 km) to the New Mexico state line. McLean is 12 miles (19 km) to the east, and Shamrock, 40 miles (64 km).

Map of Jericho and the Jericho Gap of Route 66

between Texola, Oklahoma and Glenrio, Texas.

Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: I-40 where it overlaps the old alignment.

Black: Jericho Gap section of US highway 66. Blue: Original alignment of US 66 between Amarillo and Conway.

Google Maps. Terms. Icons.

Route 66 itinerary: Jericho

Route 66 logo

See previous sections of US Route 66:

See next section of US Route 66:

From McLean to Conway, TX

Leave McLean from Main and 1st St. (mile zero), and go west, turning left at TX-273 (0.6 miles). Cross to the south side of I-40 by Exit 142 and head west along the south service road (1.2 mi.).

At County Rd. 26 (2.2 miles) take a right and then a left to keep westwards on the South Frontage Road of I-40.

The road reaches Alanreed and the road becomes TX-271 Loop W. by Exit 135 of I-40 (8 mi.). It goes through the tiny town along its Third Street passing the old Cemetery and the Oldest Church in Texas along Route 66.

Alanreed

On the west side of the town, (9 mi.) keep west on the south Frontage Road of I-40, which you will leave at Exit 132 (12 miles), because shortly after the Exit, the road becomes a dirt road and then ends in a "dead end".

This part of the road is the famous Jericho Gap, which at one time was a muddy stretch of US 66.

Jericho

Go west along I-40 and leave it at Exit 124 (19 miles) taking TX-70 southbound. You will reach Jericho weith its old Jericho Cemetery, a few miles southwest of the Exit.

West of Jericho along Route 66

After Jericho, you can drive the old Route 66 (shown above in the map with a "Black" line or go back to I-40 and head west.

Leave the highway at Exit 121 (22.4 miles) and continue along the south frontage road of I-40 westbound.

Groom

Just east of Groom, by Exit 114 (30 mi.) the I-40 Frontage Road becomes I-40BUS and goes into the town of Groom, as its Front St. Pass the downtown area (31.5 mi.) and see the enormous Cross to the right. Keep west and reach I-40 at Exit 110 (33.6 mi.).

Groom to Conway, TX

Stay off I-40 and take the south Frontage Rd. west, pass the Exit 105 (39.2 miles), the location of Lark.

At the next main intersection (46.2 miles) you will find CR-O on the north, leading to I-40's Exit 98 and TX-207 which goes straight ahead, westwards. Take it; it is the Historic US-66 (TX-207).

Conway

A few miles ahead (47.2 miles) at another crossing: FM 2161 heads west, as the Historic Route 66, listed as an Historical Site. It goes towards Amarillo. At the crossing is the town of Conway.

Detour: Take a right turn along TX-207 towards I-40 and just next to Exit 96 (47.8 mi.) visit the famous Buggy Farm.

Road Safety Advice

Check the Road Information: TxDOT Highway Conditions

The exit and entry ramps of I-40 do not intersect its service roads; they merge with them.

Those driving the on- and off-ramps have the right of way and those driving along the Frontage Rd. must yield to them.

Jericho, Attractions & Sights

Things to Do and See in the ghost town

A ghost town with a historic Cemetery along the muddy trap that once mired travelers: the Jericho Gap on Route 66.

Ghost Town Attractions

Sights in the town of Groom

The map above shows the I-40, and TX-70 and the location of the old railway station and the Cemetery.

Jericho Cemetery

County Road B, Clarendon, Donely Co. USGS 35.165516, -100.920881

Texas Historical Commission Marker

The first settlers buried their dead in the pasture next to the site of the cemetery. This lot of land was set apart as a cemetery and the first recorded burial was that of Mattie Ray (1850 -1895), followed by a seven-month-old baby, Garil Prest Schaffer (1897).

Burials still take place at the cemetery

Tours & Itineraries

Historic Route 66 in Jericho

Above we describe the historic Route 66 alignment from Mc Lean to Conway, TX, and in this area you can drive along the dirt roads that once formed the Jericho Gap, between Alanreed and Groom.

The Jericho Gap

Jericho, TX.

The national highway system implemented in 1926 was slowly but steadily paved. By the early 1930s, most of the Texan alignment of U.S. Highway 66 was paved except for one short stretch, the infamous Jericho Gap which was a dirt surfaced road.

This gap ran from a point 6.2 miles west of Alanreed, Rockledge Station, and the town of Groom.

When the weather was dry the dirt surfaced Route 66 was fine but when it rained the unpaved road turned into a sticky mud and the cars got stuck in the mire.

Farmers used chains to brave the goo, but tourists were not so well prepared and had to resort to the locals for help when their cars got bogged down in the Black Gumbo.

The cars had to be pulled out of the mud with horse teams, and this was a good source of revenue for the local farmers.

By the late 1930s the paved road finally bypassed the Jericho Gap as Route 66 moved half a mile north of the town to higher ground.

Black Gumbo

Black Gumbo is the local term that describes Texan soil: it is named after a Texan meat or seafood stew with vegetables that is thickened with okra pods or filé.

The rich, black fine-grained clay soil of the Panhandle was fertile and grew whatever was planted on it. When the weather was dry it looked like chunks of charcoal, but... when wet it became a sticky heavy waxy goo.

The soapy mud would become impervious and stick to anything, bogging down cars with its weight.

Car stuck in mud SW USA
Car Stuck in the Mud, 1930s by Lee Russell

Texas Mud and the invention of the disk plow

Eight Norwegian families migrated to Texas in 1854. One of them were the Ringness.

Jens Ringness' son Ole had some nasty experiences with the Texan black gumbo as a mail carrier between Clifton and Fort Worth.

He noticed that the cart wheels threw out mud to the side and he had the idea that a plow using a saucer shaped blade would be ideal for the soggy wet black topsoil of Texas.

He fashioned a prototype in Jen's blacksmith's shop and went to New York City to patent his invention. He died shortly after the patent was approved, but since his family did not pay the patenting fee the patent was never issued.

Movie set in Jericho Texas

The movie Last Man Standing (1996), directed by Walter Hill and starring Bruce Willis, Bruce Dern and William Sanderson, portrayed a Prohibition era Texas ghost town named Jericho. The bootlegging Irish and Italian mafia are faced off in a war in this godforsaken place.

Of course, the town shown in the film is much bigger than Jericho ever was.

Driving the Old Route 66

The Jericho Gap section is marked with a Black line in the Jericho Gap Map, above.

The old Jericho Gap can be retraced nowadays. The road runs next to the former Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway tracks (the tracks have been removed) from Alanreed to a point 6.2 miles west of Alanreed, Rockledge Station (USGPS 35.175166, -100.821026), The paved road ends here. And the dirt road enters Private Property. You must return and take I-40 from Exit 132 and take the Exit to FM 2477, cross to the south service Road and go on until County Road 12. After crossing the old tracks CR 12 receives old Route 66 on the left. Keep on CR 12 until it meets County Road B, turning right with a westerly direction and crossing TX-70 just south of Jericho.

Following CR B, crosses CR 9 and shortly after takes the south fork (CR 7 east-west branch), keeping West along CR B and crossing CR 6. At CR 5 it turns north until almost reaching I-40, where it takes a left in what used to be the town of Boydston:

Boydston

Ghost Town

CR 5 and I-40. USGS 35.182451, -101.008635

Set close to the Donely county line, it was first settled by Henry Sanford Boydston, hence its name. A post office opened in 1891 but later moved away. The Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway built a siding here in 1903.

Population reached 40 between 1940 and 1964. But the new I-40 and the railway closure in 1980 sealed its fate: people moved out. Today an abandoned grain elevator marks the spot.

The section westward from Boydston is now private property so take the alternate route: From CR B and CR 5, keep on straight and turn right at CR4.

The old section coming east from Boydston through private property meets CR 4 shortly before I-40.

The road continued north and then turned west again, but the western part has gone, so keep on the North frontage road of I-40 until Hudson Road and follow it until it takes a sharp left. This is where it met the now defunct western section of Route 66. Hudson Rd. (old US hwy 66) takes you straight west to Exit 114 of I-40 where you should cross to the south and take I-40BUS into the town of Groom along Front St. The Gap ends here.

Sources

Gloria B. Mayfield, 2002. Jericho Cemetery, Donley Co. Cemeteries of Texas

H. Allen Anderson, "Jericho, TX", Uploaded on June 15, 2010 and "Boydston, TX". Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Handbook of Texas Online Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Ringness House Museum

Image Lee, Russell, The Library of Congress, Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication. No known copyright restrictions

John L. Davis, 2013. The Norwegian Texans, The Institute of Texan Cultures 2014

Map USGS 1998 Jericho, TX. NIMA 5854 III NW-Series V882, TX3500-223, Public Domain

Panhandle snowfall National Weather Service.

Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.

Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License.

Map Icons by Nicolas Mollet under its CC BY SA 3.0 License.