Colonel Goodnight and Mama

This is a ride to do a little family research about Colonel Goodnight and mama… no not my mama, Janet’s mama. Janet’s mom was born in Goodnight, Texas in 1927 on Colonel Goodnight’s ranch. Janet’s grandfather worked for Colonel Goodnight until Colonel Goodnight’s death in December 1929. I’m hoping to find as much as I can about their time there from any historical information I can dig up…

By now you may be asking who is Colonel Goodnight. Colonel Goodnight is also known as Charlie Goodnight… Colonel Goodnight was a colorful and interesting fellow of the American West.  Perhaps, he is the best known rancher in Texas.  The Lonesome Dove novel and TV series is a fictionalized account of Colonel Goodnight and Oliver Loving’s third cattle drive. Lonesome Dove borrows from real events of the drive. Loving’s ambush by Indians and Goodnight’s care of Loving before Loving’s death from an arrow-induced infection and the returned of Loving for burial in Weatherford, Texas by Goodnight are real events. There are other accounts borrowed from Colonel Goodnight’s life but you can find more about him here.

Janet’s mom was at least 2 1/2 years old when her family moved from Colonel Goodnight’s ranch. Even at that age she remembers many details about their time there. One of the things she remembered was buffalo… a lot of buffalo! On this trip I will find out more information about that…

Janet was on a trip to New York City with a friend of hers so I decided to do this little ride. In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have gone because I may be traveling in heavy rain with strong winds and cold weather being blown in by a strong norther…

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My route to and from Goodnight, TX

Day 1 Georgetown to Amarillo  (460 Miles)

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Overcast skies, heading toward rain…

I left Georgetown under overcast skies with scattered showers in the area. The temperature was 60 degrees and made for nice riding. There was a cold front with a lot of rain headed my way. I was able to make Amarillo before it arrived. It did warm to the 70’s on the ride. I rode through several areas where I got a few sprinkles but not enough to stop and put on the rain gear. I’ve been this way many times in the car and on the bike so there was no new scenery to see. Although I’ve been this way many times, I continue to enjoy riding this part of the great state of Texas. All in all I made good time and it was a good ride.

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Darker skies…

I stayed on the east side of Amarillo because it was the best motel nearest Goodnight, Texas. I arrived about 4:30, checked in and got a bit to eat before settling in for the night. I checked the weather for tomorrow and it wasn’t looking good. Low of 35 degrees and rain was forecasted. I don’t mind riding in temperatures in the 30’s. I’ve done it many times and I don’t mind riding in the rain… but I’m not crazy about combining the two…

Day 2 Amarillo to Goodnight (38 Miles)

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Loading up getting ready to head to Goodnight, Texas

It rained heavily during the night and the temperature was 38 degrees when I left the motel. I was on the road at 8:30 since the Colonel Goodnight home didn’t open until 9:00. The road was still wet from the rain earlier. The rain was in front of me moving southeast so it would be awhile before I would catch up with the rain. I had planned on stopping in Claude, Texas at the Armstrong County Museum. The museum has information and documents from Colonel Goodnight’s ranch. Armstrong County Museum didn’t open until 12:00 so I rode on to Goodnight to tour Colonel Goodnight’s home and the Charles Goodnight Historical Center.

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Charles Goodnight Historical Center

I arrived at the Charles Goodnight Historical Center just after 9:00. I was greeted by the two staff members who filled me in on some of the history and the restoration of the home. Before touring the Goodnight home I spent some time looking at the exhibits and viewing 2 short videos about Colonel Goodnight and the ranch.

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Colonel Goodnight’s Ranch Home

Several years ago we stopped by before the home was restored.  We could see there was much to be done. I was amazed at all the work that had been done. It was obvious they did a good job restoring the home just from viewing the outside. My tour guide was very knowledgeable of the home and Colonel Goodnight’s history. Since I was the only person on the tour, I was able to take my time and ask many questions about the home and Colonel Goodnight.

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Goodnight Ranch House

Some of the interesting things I learned during the home tour…

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Dinning room of the Goodnight Home

The Charles Goodnight Historical Center didn’t have any of the ranch’s documents. Since there weren’t any documents, I wasn’t able to do any of the family research I had come to do. To do the research I would need to ride back to Claude to the Armstrong County Museum. I really wanted to do that but the weather was getting worse. I needed to be home tomorrow and I wasn’t sure if the weather would cooperate. I decided to play it safe and head back home and get as far as I could today.

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Sculpture by Colonel Goodnight’s niece

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Sculpture’s plaque

It wasn’t raining when I got back on the road. After I left Childress, Texas, it started to rain lightly and I had to put on the rain gear about 50 miles from Abilene. I had thought about staying the night in Abilene but the rain wasn’t too bad so I rode on hoping to get in as many miles in as I could.

Just outside Abilene I missed the exit for my planned gas stop so I decided to ride on. As it turned out it was a big mistake. Gas was getting low and I wasn’t finding any gas stations down the road. I was worried I would not find any. I could have a long, cold, wet walk for gas.  When I finally did stop, I had 0.2 of a gallon left in the tank. That was a very close call. If I miss an exit for gas, I will turn around and go back next time. That was just too close.

It was 5:00 and I was just 151 miles from home, so I rode on. As I approached the edge of the cold front, the rain got harder and there was strong wind gusts… I slowed down and considered stopping at the nearest town. About 50 miles from home I rode through the front, the rain changed to sprinkles and the wind was all but gone… I was home and exhausted but I was home…

While I wasn’t able to get much information on Janet’s family I did learn more about Colonel Goodnight, the ranch and the many contributions he made to ranching in Texas. He and his wife were amazing people. I will be coming back with Janet to do more research. If you are ever out that way it is worth a stop to visit Colonel Goodnight’s home.

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Ride safe and I hope we see you down the road somewhere…

6 responses to “Colonel Goodnight and Mama

  1. You have that right about NOT wanting to combine cold and rain! I’d rather be dry and riding at 30 degrees than wet and riding at 75 degrees! Close call on the gas too!

    • And then there was the gusting wind in heavy rain… This year I have ridden in some really nasty weather… but if you ride that is going to happen… The good weather rides way out number the bad. The gas was way too close and combined with the weather it was a stupid move on my part.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting…

      Ride safe y’all…

  2. Great looking house! What a great reason for a ride, to check out family history. I’d have to ride to Italy to do that! (-:

    • I would mind doing a ride in Italy. They have some great motorcycle roads. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Ride safe… I hope we see you down the road somewhere…

  3. Great post TR. Enjoyed reading it. Not a good feeling running low on gas. But if you haven’t done it then you haven’t done much riding.
    If I was to check out my wife family history I would need to ride New Zealand. Gee that would be terrible wouldn’t it.

    • I wish I could say that was the only time I ran low on gas but it wasn’t. I’ve done it several times but not that close… OK there was one other time in July 1978. Every time I do that I say I will never do that again.

      Dang, I would love to ride New Zealand… I hope you do that when you visit…

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Ride safe…

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