Smack dab in the middle of Gainesville and Wichita Falls is a micro town with BIG city attractions – Nocona, Texas! From handmade leather goods to classic cars, Nocona is a definite place to add to your “must see in Texas” list.
As part of a spontaneous road trip a day before Thanksgiving, I found myself driving along Texas Highway 82. After making a brief stop at a picnic area to take some selfies, I followed some highway signs leading towards Nocona.
I had heard about a place in downtown Nocona that was known for making custom leather baseball gloves. However, I was not aware of all other awesome things this little town had to offer and that’s shocking because I was born and raised in Texas.
As I entered the city limits of Nocona, I saw a giant mural of some cowboy boots painted on the side of what look like an old abandoned factory.
As I got closer to that building I noticed a banner posted in the ground indicating that this building was actually that of the famous old Nocona Boot Company.
Nocona Boot Company
In the past, I had heard that Justin Boots had bought out the Nocona Boot Company which later led to the closing of the nostalgic boot factory in 1999. It had something to do with using other factories in different cities throughout Texas as a cost saving effort to manufacture the boots.
When I did a little more research though, I thought it was pretty cool that the Nocona Boot Company was actually started by a woman in 1925. The woman’s name was Enid Justin.
Learning that, the story of how it all got started began to come together for me. Apparently Enid’s brothers had their own business too which is how the well known Justin Boot industry got its start. Talk about keeping it in the family – wow!
I took a few photos of the original Nocona Boot Company building and then jumped back onto Highway 82 in search of downtown Nocona.
Tales n’ Trails
A little further up the highway, I noticed a museum called the Tales n’ Trails. I didn’t have time to stop there but I realized much later that I really should have. I’ll definitely have to visit that museum on my next trip to Nocona.
About another mile up the highway, I started seeing signs indicating the types of businesses that were in store for me. Following the suggestions of some of these signs I found myself making a right turn into the lifeline of Nocona – Clay Street.
I parked my trippin’ transit van in front of a small but compelling park. The “Santa stops here” sign, mini-Christmas trees, and candy cane striped light posts easily transformed this modest little park into a Texas style North Pole.
It appeared to have been some kind of bank, seeing that there was a huge, solid iron vault door clearly visible from the makeshift sidewalk I stood on. Either way, this building’s forlorn conditions makes for some great architectural style photos.
The Nocona Athletic Goods Shop
Across the street from this building is the Nocona baseball glove making shop, Nocona Athletic Goods, that I so looked forward to checking out.
However, they were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. My dreams of having my own custom made baseball mitt complete with my name branded on it would have to stay a thought in my mind.
That’s okay though because I’m already planning my return trip to Nocona in a few months for reasons that will only be disclosed in my sub-article “The Fenoglio Boot Company”. Wait for it!
The Boot Store of Nocona
Next door to the Nocona Athletic Goods shop is The Boot Store of Nocona. For a minute, I thought the store was related to the old Nocona Boot Company but I was wrong.
From the outside, the store looked like it would be a small boutique style dwelling. However, when I walked in, it was like being teleported into the middle of a country flea market with a western inspired epoch.
My eyelids started twitching from seeing all the potential photo opportunities. The tall, beautifully decorated Christmas tree by the front entrance gave me a warm and welcoming feeling.
I was surrounded by good vibes and unique, handcrafted boots, leather vests and accessories any woman would falter to binge buying.
As I stood in awe, my mouth wide open, gazing at all the marvelous merchandise, I suddenly heard a solicitous female voice say, “Welcome to The Boot Store, how ya doin’ today?”
I was quickly made to feel like a celebrity by this store’s ambassador, Miss Kinley (last name omitted to protect the innocent 😉).
In fact, I was generously given a bit of historical town and store information by Kinley who I have proclaimed as the friendliest sales gal I ever met.
When I asked about how The Boot Store of Nocona got its start, I was given an unscripted, factual account of how that store, and town, came to be.
The Boot Store of Nocona is the only vendor who represents the local family owned Fenoglio (Here’s how we Texans pronounce fin-nelio. Try it!) Boot Company.
Initially known as The Montague Boot Company, Robert Fenoglio, decided to transform his family’s name into a brand and acquired The Montague Boot Company in 2014.
Apparently, the Montague Boot Company was started in 2001 when some former employees of the old Nocona Boot Company, that closed in 1999, decided to pull together to keep a Texas tradition alive.
These skilled group of local craftsmen (and women) rekindled local employment opportunities in Nocona by beginning to make boots again but under the business name of The Montague Boot Company.
It made perfect sense for Mr. Fenoglio, who also happens to be the mayor of Nocona, to adopt the town’s tradition of producing quality leather goods.
The Boot Store of Nocona was launched by Mr. Fenoglio in May of 2016 as the only independent retail shop that sells the coveted Fenoglio branded boots.
The Fenoglio Boot Company quickly became the premier maker of Cavender’s line of boots.
I was so impressed with the quality and unique designs of these boots that my frugal self had no problems dropping a few Franklin’s to score me my very own pair.
I am scheduled to pick those custom bad boys up in 6 – 8 weeks when the store clerk graciously calls me to do so.
I opted to pick the boots up in person versus having them directly shipped (for free) to me because I knew that would just give me another excuse to revisit this town of entrepreneurial craftsmanship. The fact that the town’s own website refers to their town as “Small enough to start something and Texan enough to finish it” says it all.
As for The Fenoglio family, they have some deep, Nocona roots dating back to 1886. Their family landed in Nocona around the time of the Chisholm Trail longhorn cattle drive.
For a more fantastic account of the Fenoglio Boot Company, click here for even more details.
Now back to to the beautiful town of Nocona, Texas
As I was relinquishing my hard earned bucks to the register of The Boot Store, I found a brochure on the counter that was secretly calling my name. The brochure listed something called the Horton Classic Car Museum of Nocona, Texas.
I didn’t take much of a detailed look inside the brochure at that time. Instead, I just slipped it away into my bag alongside my newly acquired patriotic themed leather belt.
By the time I was done with my shopping excursion at The Boot Store I had worked up an appetite. I decided to leave my trippin’ transit van parked and use a more old-fashioned method of transportation (my feet) to venture further up Clay Street.
As I walked down the beautifully manicured sidewalks, I was compelled to try and capture this town’s splendor. Armed with just my LG-G6 H871 equipped with a wide angle 13 mega pixel camera, I was able to snap up some pretty decent pics.
Along my stroll, I found the niftiest little cafe that instantly looked appealing. I walked into The Shops of Nocona which was under a bit of construction. What I had thought was just a cafe was actually a multi-purpose business creation in the making that was recently parted into three sections.
After ordering up the cafe’s daily special of a fine, fully loaded baked potato and a fresh garden salad, I just had to ask the super nice trio of women, managing the cafe, what the renovations were going to reveal.
That’s when they told me that the roughly 2500 square foot storefront was in the middle of some unique additions under one roof.
Alongside the cafe (that was on the far left of the main entrance), it was to be a mini mall complete with local vendors. To the right of that developing midsection, an empty but pre-designated area is set to become a functioning, leather crafting workshop.
Complete with live demonstrations, that workshop’s purpose is to offer out-of-towners a glimpse into the talent and detail that goes into making one of a kind leather goods.
During my appetite fulfilling lunch, one of the cafe workers asked me if I had been to the Horton Classic Car Museum yet. I told her no but that I had heard about it and just found the brochure not more than 30 minutes ago. I even explained that I hadn’t even looked up where it was yet but that I knew it was somewhere in town.
I was actually thinking that it probably wouldn’t even be walking distance from the cafe. But lo and behold, the lady tells me that I’m in luck because not only was the museum open that day – it was just behind their building there.
I was like – Whhaattt!? From that moment I was ready to dart out the door. I took a few pictures of the cafe and then said my goodbyes to the lovely ladies of the cafe.
My butt was speed walking around that corner from the cafe like I needed a pit stop like no other.
I get around the building and what do I see? A heavenly portrait of what I can only describe as a dream come to life but in crisp HD quality!
Bam, there it was, the Holy Grail for car enthusiasts that has made Nocona “The Classic Car Capital of Texas.”
I felt like a 6-year old visiting Disney World for the first time on the most picture perfect weather day!
Embarrassingly enough, I was practically trippin’ over my own feet just to get to the front doors of this museum. When I opened the main doors I swear I could hear angelic trumpets playing. It was as if I was on a hidden camera game show and I had just won the biggest prize ever!
I could barely contain my enthusiasm as I forked over the 12 bucks for admission. I spent the next hour lusting over some of the most beautiful cars that I had only ever seen during a televised weekend of a Barrett-Jackson auto auction.
Needless to say I took so many pictures that I kept waiting for my phone to tell me I was low on storage.
It was around 2:10 pm when I first entered the gates of car heaven. I realized that my tour was going to have to be somewhat brief since it was the day before Thanksgiving. The museum was scheduled to close a little earlier than normal. So, out of respect for the guy who was running the museum I wrapped up my tour around 3:15 pm.
That was probably a good thing because I felt so dehydrated from all the drooling I did as I walked up and down the rows of cars.
I scored myself a souvenir hat that came with a nice promotional bag for just about $20.
If you appreciate the beauty and history of classic cars and trucks, then you’ll have to add the Horton Classic Car Museum of Nocona, Texas to your Google Maps list of places you “NEED to visit”.