By KATE NOWAK
part 2 of 2
While most may think of April as a time for celebrating fools and spring showers, some of the local folk in Palo Pinto County are more apt to think of it as the perfect time for celebrating history. They have good reason. Ever since 1837, when Bigfoot Wallace first planted his reportedly big feet on a portion of the 948 broken and hilly square miles that make up the county, the area has been steeped in a rich and varied history worthy of celebration. That’s why every other year the Palo Pinto County Historical Commission hosts a driving tour, opening wide the gates to yesteryear and giving history buffs an opportunity to venture through the beautiful Palo Pinto Mountain range and straight into the past.
Offering fascinating legend and lore along with postcard-worthy landscapes, this year’s biennial tour, aptly dubbed the Palo Pinto County Historic and Wildflower Tour, will take place April 27, the last Saturday in April, beginning at 9 am and lasting until 4 pm.
As with past tours offered by the commission, you will be free to start the tour at any point along the way; but to give you an idea of what to expect, let’s take a quick peek at all the places along the designated route: From the Johnson League, we will head over to Strawn, located in the furthermost southwestern corner of the county. Our first stop there will be the old Presbyterian Church, now the Opal Guest Chapel.
Built in 1917 at a cost of $10,000, this beautiful building was home to the North Fork Congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for over half a century before being closed to weekly services in the early 1970s. After sitting vacant for almost 30 years, the little church might have succumbed to the wrecking ball had it not been for the loving attention given it by local rancher Jimmy Guest and his wife, Jerri, who purchased the old building in 1997. Guest’s father, James, had been an elder of the church and his mother, Opal Hodgkins Guest, had been his Sunday school teacher there. He’d also been baptized in the church.