Rich in History: 4 of Lubbock’s Must-See Historical Markers
As the daughter of a Texas historian, I grew up hearing about the importance of history on a daily basis. Although I never could appreciate the historical significance my dad could find in just about anything (and I do mean anything), I’m starting to understand why it is so special to him, but we’ll keep that secret between us. Whether I’m finally gaining wisdom or an appreciation for it, I now realize that history is simply the value in a story. Lubbock’s history is rich with stories that are beautifully intertwined into the fabric of our city. If you’ve ever seen the Dairy Barn at Texas Tech, explored Yellowhouse Canyon, taken a photo at Aztlan Park or listened to Buddy Holly, you have experienced some of Lubbock’s abundant history.
Yellowhouse Canyon (Marker: Mackenzie Park, 301 I-27)
Texas celebrated its 100th anniversary of independence from Mexico in 1936. As a result, three million dollars in state funds were appropriated for “the placing of suitable markers.” Over 1,000 granite markers were placed throughout Texas’ 254 counties commemorating the establishment of each county. The Yellowhouse Canyon marker in Mackenzie Park is included in those centennial markers. The marker tells the story of Spanish explorers in the 17th and 18th centuries and the last battle in Lubbock County in 1877 between the white buffalo hunters and the Native Americans who had claimed the plains as their own. Yellow House Canyon runs along the northeast side of Lubbock through Mackenzie Park, Lubbock Lake Landmark, Buffalo Springs and Ransom Canyon opening up east of Slaton as the Caprock falls off.
Aztlan Park (Marker: 1st St. and Avenue K)
In the first half of the 20th century, the area known today as Aztlan Park was a barrio and one of the area’s largest migrant labor camps. Early Hispanic residents of Lubbock County found work as ranch hands and railroad workers in the 1880s. Rail companies built row houses near construction sites. Cotton pickers from South Texas and Mexico arrived in a seasonal migration and lived in large labor camps throughout Lubbock County and along every major highway into Lubbock. Sadly, a disastrous tornado in 1970 destroyed much of the neighborhood, and of the twenty-six people killed, nearly half were barrio residents. A vibrant mural, painted by Emanuel Martinez pays tribute to Lubbock’s Tejano roots and the Texas historic marker reminds visitors of the significance the Aztlan Park area carries.
The Dairy Barn (Marker: 18th St. and Boston Ave.)
Texas Tech University, once Texas Technological College, was founded in 1923 and opened in 1925. Although Texas Tech’s campus tells a story of its beautiful history around every corner, there is nothing quite like the Dairy Barn and the feeling you get seeing it in person. The Dairy Barn is an iconic structure on the Texas Tech campus that now bears a Texas Historic Landmark designation due to the Texas Tech Student Government Association and countless other efforts made in the last 25 years. Completed in 1927, the Dairy Barn became a place for students to learn about the the production and sale of milk, butter and cream with the cows housed inside the barn. There’s something quite special about a structure that has withstood the test of time and weathered many storms, literally and figuratively. It’s a reminder of simpler times and not only where Texas Tech has been, but Lubbock as well.
Buddy Holly (Marker: Buddy Holly Center, 1801 Crickets Ave.)
You can’t mention Lubbock’s history without mentioning Buddy Holly. Just last year Buddy Holly was given a Texas Historical Marker at the Buddy Holly Center where his legacy is preserved and his passion for music continues to inspire a new generation of artists. Buddy’s legacy reaches from Lubbock to all around the world, and his influence has shaped what rock ‘n’ roll is today. At a mere 22 years old, Buddy Holly died in a horrific plane crash, but little did we all know how long of a life he would truly live through his music and those famous glasses.
As I studied the stories behind these markers, I realized that the glue that held it all together was the people of Lubbock, the people that came before us and the people here today. When I ask visitors and citizens of Lubbock what their favorite thing about our city is, I always get the same answer – the people. The value in our history lies within the stories of our people, pioneers such as Buddy Holly that built and shaped this town into what it is today. What is it about Lubbock that continues to breed legends and such influence? Maybe it’s something in the water, or maybe it’s just our history.
For more on the historical markers in Lubbock, check out Historic Lubbock County.
Featured image via Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.