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Quanah Parker Trail Arrow Artist passes away

By Megan Carr

Many of you have seen the large steel arrows as historical markers placed across the Texas panhandle, pointed into the ground and standing about 24-feet tall. There are over 80 of these arrows, including one in Friona, crafted and installed by a man named Charles Smith, who passed away last Saturday, March 3. Charles worked with the Quanah Parker Trail, a project of the Texas Plains Trail Region, whose purpose is to study and honor the famous Comanche chief Quanah Parker, the people he led in wartime and peacetime, and the Southwest’s Native American heritage.

The Panhandle-Plains region is the heart of the Comanche homeland, rich with history that the people of Quanah Parker Trail aim to showcase. Their website provides a star-marked map, which shows nearly every historical site, each location with an arrow and a monument describing a connection to the Comanche chief. Because this program is continues to develop, new arrow sites are added on a regular basis.

Landon Smith, grandson of the arrow artist, has already taken up the mantle of installing arrows on behalf of Charles and the Smith family. “My Grandfather has left a legacy across these plains, a legacy of generosity and kindness that is unmatched. All sparked by his talent and ability to manipulate metal in a way that honors the ancient people of our land. Monuments that will far outlast any of us,” Landon states in remembrance. He recounts times of installing some of the arrows with his grandfather as memories that he will never forget.

The Quanah Parker Trail arrow was placed at the Parmer County Historical Museum in Friona on November 27, 2012. From left are city employee Richard Samarron, arrow sculptor Charles Smith, Texas Plains Trail regional director Deborah Sue McDonald, museum curator Wendy Carthel, and city employees Jose Samarron and Salvador Garcia.