Travels with Grandma…

Preserving the stories, legends & history of Texas for generations to come…

Today We’re Cruisin’ Clifton

Hi! This is Grandma. I hope you’ve had a good week and I’m glad to see you are back. Today, we’re going to Clifton, Texas.

cruisin' clifton

I was thinking that some of my favorite family stories have come when traveling with my mom & dad. If it wasn’t for a road trip, I wouldn’t have known about “Uncle Albert” and Grandma Humphries, nor would I know that my beef jerky was costing me $34.95 a pound. I also wouldn’t know how to tell the difference between goats and sheep grazing in a distance. (You’ll have to drop me a line for the answer to that one!)

On the Road to Clifton, Texas

Pack a picnic, load up the kids, fill up the gas tank, buckle up, and we’ll be off. Today we’re heading south from Granbury through Glen Rose and Meridian before heading east to Clifton. We’ll head back west, discover some wonderful old Norse churches and then go north into Hico and back home again. I hope you enjoy the trip!

As we head south on Hwy 144 out of Granbury, that big old flat top mountain to your left is Comanche Peak, the highest point in Hood County. Shortly after Texas was settled, the US government decided to send a delegation to Texas to talk with the Comanche Indians. Some of the delegations wandered around in the wilderness for days looking for a mountain. Never did they dream that flat top “brushy hill” was the place they were looking for.

We slip through Glen square waking up for another day of business. The farmer’s trucks aren’t out yet, but if they’re there on the way back, we’ll be sure to stop for some of the best home grown tomatoes anywhere.

Our first stop on today’s adventure is Clifton, a straight shot down Hwy 144 to Meridian, right on Hwy 22, and left on Hwy 6. There are four things I truly love on a road trip – old churches, old bridges, old barns, and wide open spaces. Throw in old cemeteries and museums and you have perfection. The area between Granbury and Clifton has it all.

Things You’ll See In Clifton

Model A Fords

You never know what you’ll find when you hit a small town on Saturday morning. Today, we happened on more than 50 Model A Fords from the Dallas Ford Model A Club while stopping for a bite to eat and a chance to catch up. One lady we talked to said, “We don’t know where we’re going. It’s a Mystery Tour, just supposed to be some place we’ve never been, not too far from here.”

In Clifton, you cross the Bosque River on the Whipple Truss Bridge; one of the oldest bow bridges still in use in the state of Texas. It’s hard to believe this bridge was built in 1884.

To find the bridge, turn left on FM 219 and left again on CR 3305. Turn left once you pass the bridge, pull up under one of the big old shade trees, spread out your blanket, and have a snack, picnic, or just pull that cap down over your eyes and rest a spell. Take a close look at the edges and you can see the wooden boards that make that “clacking” noise when you cross the bridge. Or, stand at the top of the bow and catch a good view of the river on either side.

bow bridge

A Museum and a Ghost Town

Once past Clifton, head back into town on FM 219 and just past downtown you will see a sign that says, “Museum”. It points to the left. Don’t pass it up.

The museum is one of the best small town museums I’ve ever visited. It’s full of Indian and early settler artifacts, a friendly staff, and Norwegian crystal and glass dating back to the 1400’s. It’s also home to one of the best displays of Christening gowns you will find anywhere. I would tell you about it, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise; you will have to discover that one yourself. There isn’t an admission charge, but donations are welcome.

Our Savior Lutheran Church

Then it is on to Norse, an “official” Texas ghost town. To get there, keep going west on FM 219 to the intersection and turn right.

At one time, Norse was home to the largest and most successful Norwegian populations in Texas. Now it is home to a few homes and Our Savior Lutheran Church. Built in 1876, the church is a fine example of Norse architecture. Take time to stroll the cemetery and see some wonderful examples of Norse tombstones.

Don’t forget to check out the stacked rock wall. It is truly a work of art. Sit under the big trees at the edge and you can almost picture all the hands it took, working together, to build it. Leaving the church, we took the fork to the left and wandered through the hills. It’s a gravel road, but the scenery is well worth the trip.

Inside Our Savior Lutheran Church

The Old Rock Church

Wandering up the mountain, we spotted an old rock house on the left. Take time to stop and look. Notice how it follows the lay of the land. I wonder if it slants that much on the inside?

The Rock Church is about 10 miles north of Norse and 4 miles east of Cranfills Gap.

Winding through the hills, suddenly a white steeple appears on your right. Underneath it is a simple white rock church surrounded by green fields and wildflowers. Simple on the outside, beautiful on the inside. Look around and discover the beauty within – the alter, the pulpit, and, behind you, in the balcony, the beautiful old organ.

Imagine being in the church when it was new in 1888 and sitting on wooden beams propped on buckets. Either from the peacefulness of the sanctuary or the beautiful grounds outside, sit back and listen. You just might hear the sounds of wagon wheels and buggy wheels coming up the drive, bringing people from all over the area. Hear the laughter of children and grown ups alike.

The church takes donations for the preservation and upkeep and even provides self addressed stamped envelopes. Take it with you and mail it. They don’t have regular services.

Cranfills Gap

Next stop – Cranfills Gap, a quiet little town. Much like Clifton. If you need gas, you better get it here because, for those of you that are brave enough, we will be hitting the gravel county roads for a while.

Taking CR 275 to FM 1602, Palt Mountain will be on the right. As you wander down the winding road, Lone Mountain will be a little farther down on your left. Lands the Indians used to call home, where they carved out their lives in a harsh land.

At the intersection of SH 22 and FM 1602, take CR 219 east to CR 215. Twin Mountains will be off in the distance. CR 215 southwest to Gann will take you to Providence Church, a simple white church with a faded sign. It looks like it is still in use.

little white church

Wandering Through Hico, Texas

We continued to CR 211 west to CR 203 and kept going west until we hit SH 281. Heading north, we found Hico, home of the Billy the Kid Museum, and more. (It’s getting late, so we’ll visit Hico again another day.)

In Hico, we took FM 220 north to the base of Chalk Mountain and the intersection of SH 67. Heading west, we wandered our way back into Glen Rose, to HWY 144 north, and home.

a country road

Look to the right as you pass FM 2425 and you will see Nubbin Ridge, Take a slight detour and follow the signs. You will find an old cemetery and historical marker explaining that in the 1860’s there was a drought so bad that someone said, “you couldn’t even grow a nubbin of corn.” Then the ridge was named.

Winding through the countryside, past old homesteads, barns, windmills, and cisterns, I wonder what stories these lands could tell? Stories of love and laughter, heartache, struggle, and fear; stories of failure and success, the stories that built our future.

Till next time?


Want more information on Clifton?
or call

The Chamber of Commerce, (254) 675-3720
The Bosque Memorial Museum (254) 675-3845
Mike Sharp
Author: Mike Sharp

I have a passion for travel and outdoor activities, and now I'm enjoying retired life. I will continue my traveling, golfing, boating, and enjoying life all across the great state of Texas.

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