The town of Clayton was established in 1887 as a railroad stop. It started as a tent town with three saloons, a livery stable, two small hotels of sorts and a general store. Clayton was a waypoint for trade caravans and homesteaders traveling on the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail. The first train arrived March 20, 1888, on newly laid tracks. The town became a livestock-shipping center for herds from the Pecos River and the Texas Panhandle.
The Herzstein Memorial Museum is run by the Union County Historical Society. The museum seeks to preserve the history of the city of Clayton and Union County. Named for the pioneering merchant family of Albert Herzstein, the museum is housed in a former Methodist Episcopal Church with a history of its own: The building also once served as a local community center with basketball courts, it housed the public library, and was the venue for many community gatherings. The Historical Society acquired the building in 1972. The museum opened the following year. Continue reading