Texas Pecos Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Tom Lea Trail

Tom Lea (1907-2001) was a genius of the twentieth century who worked as a muralist, illustrator, war correspondent, novelist, historian, and easel painter.  He worked alone in his native El Paso TX for most of his life and was never associated with Art World trends.

The Tom Lea Trail - based on the Piero della Francesca Trail in Italy - connects the regional histories of eleven Texas cities: Odessa, Seymour, Dallas, Waco, College Station, Galveston, Austin, Fredericksburg, Kingsville, and Hebbronville, crossing the border at El Paso.

When visiting Odessa, you can learn about Longhorn steer--and what can happen during a stampede—in the historic downtown post office where Tom’s 1940 mural, Stampede, is on view. The mural was inspired by the first verse of “Little Joe the Wrangler”, which reads:

“We was camping on the Pecos when the wind began to blow,
And we doubled up the guard to hold them tight,
When the storm came roaring from the north with thunder
       and with rain,
And the heard stampeded off into the night.”

Tom Lea always painted his subjects with great accuracy, often studying his subjects for months before painting them. To paint this mural, he studied the anatomy of cow brutes, attended local rodeos to record the forms of bulls jumping or steers running, and traveled through Texas to see cattle first hand with author and friend J. Frank Dobie. To learn about each location on the Tom Lea Trail visit

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