Welcome to the North Texas Hill Country! Nocona, Texas, and the surrounding area is rich in history and alive with opportunity. From its heritage along the famed Chisholm Trail to its well established leather industries, Nocona continues to attract visitors and industries. A trip to Nocona includes the opportunity to tour the Nokona baseball glove factory (the only one left in the USA!), visit historical landmarks and the Tales ‘n’ Trails Museum, enjoy a great meal at Times Forgotten Steak House (renovated from an old bank building) and enjoy one of the best bass fishing lakes in Texas. Check out all the new things going on downtown, including some great classic car collections! Nocona also offers businesses many advantages due to its location and small town benefits. Come see and experience Nocona for yourself. It’s not just the Old West anymore!
We have a list of resources available under Nocona Resources on the menu bar.
The city is named for Peta Nocona, the Comanche chief. The area was first known to white settlers as the last stop in Texas before crossing the Red River on the Chisolm Trail, at a settlement known as Red River Station. It was founded in 1887 along a particular bend in the Gainesville, Henrietta and Western Railway line, which soon became part of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, connecting Gainesville and Henrietta, and later Wichita Falls. Nocona assumed the role of economic and industrial center of northern Montague County, and many older towns in the area, bypassed by the railroad, shuttered and its citizens moved to Nocona. The town has steadily maintained a population of around 3000 since the 1940s, though industries responsible for its growth have come and gone. The “North Field”, an oil field between Nocona and the Red River, contributed to Nocona’s economy for much of the 20th century and continues to do so on a small scale. The MKT line, which was responsible for Nocona’s founding, was abandoned in 1969 and the tracks removed in 1971. Nocona also has a proud history of leather works and has been home to Justin Industries, Nocona Boot Company, and the Nocona Belt Company. Nocona Boot Company, Nocona Belt Company and Justin Industries have since moved; however, the Montague Boot Company has been established in Nocona making boots for the Larry Mahan line sold at Cavender’s Boot City. Also integral to the Nocona economy is the Nocona Athletic Goods Company (product names are spelled “Nokona”), which manufactures the last American made baseball gloves. The original building of the Athletic Goods’ facilities burned in July 2006, and production has been moved to downtown Nocona. Significant efforts are currently underway to revitalize the Clay Street downtown area. See an example of refurbishing a downtown landmark from start to finish at the F&M Bank Face Lift Project.
Nocona has a beautiful lake approximately 10 miles north of the city appropriately named Lake Nocona, or Farmer’s Creek Reservoir. It is a recreational lake popular with people from across north central Texas. On Lake Nocona sits Nocona Hills, an attractive gated lakeside “city” with many homes, a hotel, golf course, landing strip, and other amenities. Nocona is also home to an 18-hole golf course, Indian Oaks, located beside the Enid Justin City Park. Nearby is also a hospital and wellness center.
- David Graham Gardner: Owner of “The Nocona Telephone Company.” The Telephone Company was established in 1904 over a hardware store with two operators to handle day-calls, and an all-night operator. In the 1920s, the company added the first “line trucks.” The company was sold in 1964 by his two children, David G. “Bubba” Gardner,Jr., and Sue Gardner Parsons. D.G. Gardner was born in Acton, Texas on Sept 30, 1874, and his wife, Mable Holland Gardner was born in Arkansas on July 18, 1887. D.G.’s father, Graham Gardner, lived in Granbury, Texas during the Civil War, and fought with “Hood’s Brigade“. The Gardner’s were long time friends of The “Justin” family.
- “Jackrabbit” Jack Crain: 1939, 1941 All Southwest Conference and two-time All-American Halfback, Texas legend, and the man who saved University of Texas football in 1939. Mr. Crain also served four terms as a Texas state representative for district 61. Nocona’s high school football stadium is named for him. An account of the game that changed Texas football is at Mack Brown’s Texas Football. See Jack Crain’s playbook and details about his life at Nocona Community Web. The Tales ‘n’ Trails Museum has Crain’s high school and college football helmets on display as part of the Nokona Athletic Goods collection.
- Herman Joseph Justin: Founder of the Justin Industries. H. J. Justin was born in Indiana in 1859 and moved to Gainesville, Texas in 1877. He opened his boot business at Spanish Fort in northern Montague County, along the Chisholm Trail in 1879 with a $35 loan from the local barber. His boots became known for quality craftsmanship and durability among cowboys. In 1887, he moved the business to Nocona to be near the new railroad. He died in 1918. In 1925, his sons moved Justin Industries to Fort Worth, Texas, and his daughter, “Miss Enid” Justin stayed in Nocona and started the Nocona Boot Company.
- Enid Justin: Founder of the Nocona Boot Company and daughter of H.J. “Joe” Justin, founder of Justin Boots. Ms. Justin was a long time supporter of youth programs in Nocona such as the boys’ and girls’ Little League and the city park. A detailed account of her life and business is at the University of North Texas oral history program.
- Joe Hancock: Perhaps one of Nocona’s most famous products is not a person at all, but an American Quarter Horse legend. Joe Hancock foaled circa 1925, was raised by John Jackson Hancock, and was trained by Elbert Bird Ogle in Claypool, OK. One of his many claims to fame is having never been beaten in a quarter-mile race. After his racing career, he lived out his days at the 6666/Triangle ranch until he died in 1943. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association’s Hall of Fame in 1992.
- Ruth Roach (1896-1986), championship bronc rider and rodeo performer, retired to a ranch near Nocona.
- Charles C. “Charlie” Robertson: A 1915 Nocona High School graduate, Mr. Robertson went on to play major league baseball with the Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Browns, and Boston Braves. It was with the White Sox that Charlie Robertson pitched one of only 17 perfect games ever recorded in American major league baseball on April 30, 1922.
- Robert E. (Bob) Storey was selected as a Distinguished Graduate by Nocona High School (Nocona Independent School District). His father-inlaw, Cadmus McCall, was the founder of the Nocona Leather Goods, now the Nocona Athletic Goods Company. Bob Storey started making the first ball gloves at the factory in 1934. Nocona Athletic Goods is the only American glove manufacturer left in the US. Storey was selected to the National Sporting Goods Hall of Fame in 1983 for his innovations to the baseball mitt and his design changes to the standard college football’s shape. View the NSGA Hall of Fame listing on Storey.
- Cadmus McCall (1876–1953) played a major role in two of the most important economic entities in Nocona, TX. First, as President of the Farmers & Merchants National Bank, he helped to finance much of the actual construction of the town, as well as providing the necessary capital for the development of the North Field Oil boom. Second, McCall also built the Nocona Leather Goods (now the Nocona Athletic Goods Company) in 1926. This business has and continues to be one of the main employers in Nocona, TX. See Cadmus McCall referenced on a historic monument at the Nocona Community Network.
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