The Maniac Collector's Inbox
The Return to Sherlock, Texas
My work took me to Amarillo, Texas this week. Amarillo is located in the Texas Panhandle surrounded by flat plains, a nuclear weapons plant, and Stanley Marsh’s buried Cadillacs. It is also the site of St. Anthony Baptist Hospital my home this past week. I have always thought that it was an ironic combination, the name at least. I scheduled a meeting with the Director of Radiology and she cancelled at the last moment. This gave me a free afternoon so I hatched a plan.
Working the USA Today Crossword Puzzle at breakfast on Wednesday morning, there was a clue that made me smile. The clue for two-down was ‘In progress, to Holmes’. Of course the answer was ‘Afoot’ and after my cancelled meeting, this is exactly what I was, afoot. Wednesday was the opening day for Major League Baseball Playoffs. It was also the first time the Texas Rangers have made the post-season in eleven years. Baseball is a sport that translates well to radio and since I had satellite radio in my rental car, I made the executive decision to forego the game on television and listen to it on the radio while I drove the 144 miles to Sherlock, Texas.
There is an old saying about best-laid plans. Satellite radio does not carry MLB Playoffs but I caught the game loud and clear on one of the Amarillo AM stations all the way to Sherlock and back. My next surprise came at the railroad crossing on Lipscomb County Road 19. This crossing is where Sherlock, Texas is located but when I arrived, I found the railroad signs were there but the tracks were gone. There is still the hump in the road where they once were but that is all that is there now. I parked and walked up and down the former railroad bed and did not even finding a souvenir spike. I located the culvert, where at its base members of the Great Whimsical Sherlockian Tour of Oklahoma and Texas placed a commemorative marker. None of the usual suspects, Mr. Ed Peil, Mr. Cates, or Mr. Schilling, showed up as they did in August 2005. There were millions of yellow grasshoppers there to greet me along with the smell of Mr. Cates’ pig barns and massive Kudzu vines.
I cleared the brush near the culvert and spent the next half hour digging but I could not locate the marker. If I ever return to Sherlock, I will bring proper excavating equipment such as a shovel. I know there are better digging tools than the lug-nut wrench from a rental car. I raised my water bottle and drank a silent toast to fellow tour member, the late Mike Miller and another one to those members still with us. Then I headed back to Amarillo. I am saddened at what is left of Sherlock, Texas. It is not even a ghost town because there are not any buildings. I am glad that I made the effort to return and I know the next time I watch the video of our exploits will a bit more poignant.
The railroad bed that was once Sherlock, Texas.
The culvert where the GWSTOT place a commemorative marker.
Past 2009 Columns