TEXAS FOREST TRAIL
THE BIG THICKET----ALWAYS AND FOREVER!!!
When President Gerald R. Ford signed legislation on October 11, 1974, to create the Big Thicket national Preserve, he established the first national preserve in America. Since the, the 12 separate areas that constitute the preserve have been designated an "International Biosphere Reserve" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The preserve itself occupies 84,500 acres of the Big Thicket region in southeast Texas. Before settlers and lumberjacks and boomtowns moved in, the Thicket boasted 3.5 million acres of Lone Star wilderness. Today, less than one-tenth of the original, primitive big Thicket still stands. The immensely diverse region displays 1,000 species of wildflowers, and almost 200 species of shrubs and trees. Two stretches of wild river run through it, and eight major ecological systems flow together. But there is also the unkind mark of human foolishness---Kaiserís Burnout.
Writing in the February 1988 issue of Texas Highways, Howard Peacock tells the story of Kaiserís Burnout. "During the Civil War, some Thicket youths rushed to the Confederate banner while others, taking to the woods where none could follow, refused to associate with any government. A jackass Confederate captain named Kaiser set fire tot he woods, hoping to corner and capture a group of Thicketeers who had ignored his recruiting threats. He succeeded only in burning several thousand acres of idyllic forest. Near Honey Island, a scar is still known as Kaiserís Burnout."
The presence of four national forests and five state forests in Texas gives some hint of the importance of the forested areas of the state. But this is only a hint. To appreciate the significance of the vast East Texas Piney Woods, whose acreage almost equals that of the combined forest areas of New England, one must explore this beautiful lane...se its abundant wildlife, stroll through its historic shrines, pause under its green shade, and relax beside its myriad glistening lakes to the sound of wind through the pine boughs.
For 12,000 years before the first foreign settlers arrived, Indians inhabited this land. It was coveted by French traders and was the prize sought by the Spanish, Mexican, and American colonizers.. Today, its lakes and woods lure modern adventurers and reward them with pleasure unlimited.
Surprisingly, historical geographers say this area is more heavily forested today than when the first Anglos arrived more than 150 years ago. Many Indian groups practiced agriculture n hundreds of small clearings, hacked and burned out of the woodlands. Early Anglo American settlers did the same.. Those clearings, which looked like little prairies, were replanted with trees in the 1930s and also after World War II, thus changing the landscape drastically.
As a result of the reforestation, annual East Texas tree growth now is much greater than the harvest. The value of timber and wood products exceeds half a billion dollars, making timber very important to the East Texas economy. The Forest Trail explorers much of the green-canopied region, the storied oil field area, and fascinating aspects of farming and ranching.
While most of the rest of Texas has its ties to Tennessee and Missouri, the area covered by the Texas Forest Trail reflects the culture of the Deep South. It can be seen in the dialect, the types of homes, the food, and the large number of rural blacks, many of whom own their farms. That portion of Texas east of the Trinity River is the region that is most like the Deep South, both environmentally and culturally.
For the Trail experience to be as complete and rewarding as possible, the traveler should use a copy of the Texas State Travel Guide along with this supplement. Because of the supplementís space limitations, descriptions here are devoted mainly to driving routes. cities visited on the Trail are summarized in the Texas-On-Line, cities by alphabetical index guide, along with their attractions.
The Trail begins in Tyler, this regionís major metropolitan area; The route is then described in a clockwise direction, but the traveler may start it at any point and drive in either direction by carefully consulting the Trail map and the descriptive copy. See the map legend for information about special Trail signs and arrows.v
Population is 75,480 and the Altitude is 558
The busy city of Tyler, halfway between Shreveport and Dallas, grew rapidly in the 1930s with the discovery of the East Texas Oil Field. Though east of the city, the field made Tyler the headquarters of oil operators.
Review the cityís attraction in Texas-On-Line, cities by alphabetical index. Visit the Chamber of Commerce located at 407 North Broadway (US 69) for literature and up to the minute details on such attractions as the Hudnall Planetarium, zoo, art museum, historic homes, and of course, the Municipal Rose Garden.
That 22 acre garden is a few blocks west of downtown, off Front Street (Texas 21), and displays 38,000 plants of about 500 varieties of roses. visitors are welcome also at the greenhouse. Free.
The Texas rose Festival, with parades, a queen, and roses everywhere, is held here in October.
Around Easter, the Azalea Trail displays a gardens of splendid blossoms, and in September Tyler is the site of the East Texas Fair ---the stateís Second Largest Fair.
Camp Ford, a Confederate prisoner of war camp for Union soldiers, was the largest such camp west of the Mississippi. A marker in a picnic area, just north of the intersection of US 271 and Lop 323 in northeast Tyler, gives details.
The Forest Trail leads north on FM 14 to Tyler State Park, Its extensive facilities are detailed under Tyler in Texas-On-Line cities by index.
The Trail passes through the Red Springs Oil Field One of several that contributed to Tylerís growth and continue to influence the areaís economy.
The community of Lindale (population: 2,428), was the location of the Steen Saline Works during the Civil War. Some 3,000 people were employed at this source of salt for the Confederacy. Lindaleís beautiful magnolia trees are reminders that this area really was part of the Old South.
North of Lindale, fields of rose bushes and peach orchards in the highway. Probably no two crops are more colorful, and itís a lucky traveler who is here during their flowering season.
The Sabine River here is the Smith Wood county boundary. Some 95 miles downstream, the Sabine becomes the Louisiana-Texas border.
Population is 4,321 and the altitude is 414
The first native born governor of Texas, James Stephen Hogg, was born near Rusk, and his first law office was in Mineola. A marker is at that site, two blocks west of the Trail, on US 80. A block north, a t Line and Kilpatrick streets, is the birthplace of his daughter, Miss Ima Hogg, who devoted a lifetime to the conservation of Texasí heritage through restoration and preservation projects.
The Chamber of Commerce, 101 East Broad Street (US 80), can provide information on other historic sites and area attractions, including a railroad museum in the restored train depot.
North of Mineola the Forest Trail passes through a prosperous area where a wide variety of crops is produced, including watermelons and sweet potatoes. One "farm" produces a rather unusual crop - catfish, which are bred and sold for stocking private ponds and streams.
Population is 1,684 and the Altitude is 414
Review the entry about the Governor Hogg Shrine State Historical Park (4) in the state travel guide and visit the Chamber of Commerce at 602 McAllister Street, for additional area details.
The park is open daily, but the Miss Ima Hogg Museum, the Honeymoon Cottage, and the Stinson house are all open Wed. - Sun. The museum is free, but thereís a small fee for guided tours of the cottage and the Stinson house, the home of Mrs. Hoggís parents, in which she was married. A picnic area, a playground, and rest rooms are available.
A half mile side trip east on FM 778 (Horton Street) leads to the ante-bellum Colins-Haines home. Although not open to the public, it is worth driving by. This first brick house in Wood County was built by slaves using locally made bricks. It retains the atmosphere of the Old South, with graceful wisteria and magnolia trees. Past this stately plantation Confederate troops marched off to war. The road is part of the annual Dogwood Fiesta Trail in late March and early April. fiesta Trail maps are available locally. Also in the spring, crimson clover blankets the roadsides of the area.
Lake Fork is five miles west on Texas 154. The lakeís acreage is 27,690 at conservation level. Little clearing was done before impoundment, making it an excellent habitat for fish. sportsmen say itís a hot spot for bass. Other area lakes, Quitman and Winnsboro, are described within the Texas-On-Line.
Northeast of Quitman, the Forest Trail slices through the Merigale-Paul Oil Field An Old field still producing. A marker in a picnic area honors Captain Henry Stout, pioneer lawman and Indian fighter.
Nine miles east of the Stout Memorial, accessible via a paved county road, is the Cooley log cabin. It was built in 1853 by the first settler in the heavily forested Perryville area. The deed was written on a deer hide with a feather quill. The cabin may be seen anytime from the county road.
Check the Trail map and watch Trail signs carefully in this area, because several short sections of highway are used. Many of the roads are routes featured during the Autumn Trails --- a display of flamboyant autumnal beauty.
The average farm in this region has about 100 acres, with watermelons and yams probably the top crops. There are also orchards (mostly peaches), dairy and beef cattle, goats, sheep, slash pines and cedars, oil rigs, pecan groves....in short, a cross section of East Texas.
Population is 4,069 and the Altitude is 398
Read about the city and about the Ezekial Airshop in Texas-On-Line cities in alphabetical order, and visit the Chamber of Commerce at 202 Jefferson. You will get information about the area and the highly acclaimed lakes Bob Sandlin and Welsh, as well as other watersports opportunities.
The 640 acre Bob Sandlin State Park, just north of here on the shores of Lake Bob Sandlin, offers camping facilities, picnicking, rest rooms, and fishing in a scenic woodland setting. Admission is charged.
En route to Daingerfield, pines and gum trees are the top varieties. Note the green clumps of mistletoe in hardwood trees, commercially worthless but feast for the birds.
Population is 2,572 and the Altitude is 402
Iron ore in the area has supported an iron industry here for many years and was important to the Confederacy. Historical markers on N. Coffey Street detail the cityís history, and area information is available at the Chamber of Commerce, 208 Jefferson Street.
A pleasant side trip is a visit to Daingerfield State Park, three miles east, off Texas 11/49. The 581 acre, beautifully wooded area includes a quiet 80 acre lake offering fishing and swimming. boating is limited to motors of 12 horsepower or less. Nature trail, picnic and camping areas, 80 foot fishing pier, trailer spaces, and cabins are among the amenities. Open year-round; reservations advisable for trailer space and cabins during the summer. admission is charged.
On the Forest Trail four miles south of Daingerfield is the town of Lone Star, the hub of the areaís iron and steel industry. Just inside the gate of the Lone Star Steel Plant is a replica of a small furnace from the 1850s era, a type that could produce one ton of pig iron a day.
Across the road is the delightful Chapel in the Pines, maintained for civic use by Lone Star Steel.
The Texas Forest trail to Jefferson skirts the northern edge of the beautiful Lake Oí the Pines. Numerous commercial fishing and boating facilities line the lake, along with dozens of public use areas, most of which include boat ramps and campgrounds.
Many consider this the best bass lake in East Texas. But also taken are crappie, pickerel, bluegills, and red-ear bream. Complete fishing is available, from fishing barges to guides.
Along the Trail watch for a historical marker describing the first iron furnace in Texas - the Nash Iron Works, built to the north of the Trail in 1846 on Alley Creek, where iron ore, wood for charcoal, and clay for molds were plentiful.
The Trail is moving through hills of the Weches Formation, from which iron ore is taken. itís a weather resistant formation, hard and almost impervious to rain. the unpaved side roads are red, reflecting the iron content, and even some of the asphalt roads have a reddish cast from the use of their on-bearing material in their construction. At the intersection of FM 729 and Texas 49 a marker notes where the old Kelly Foundry once turned out both cowbells and the first modern plows in Texas.
Population 2,199 and the Altitude is 191
One of the historic gems of the Forest Trail, and of the whole state, is this small city that was once among the largest cities in the state. fortunately for todayís Trail Traveler, progress bypassed Jefferson, leaving it with the charm virtually unmatched elsewhere in the state.
Review Jeffersonís listing in Texas-On-Line, and visit the Historical Societyís museum (open daily) or the Chamber of Commerce, at 116 West Austin Street (open 6 days), for detailed information about this historic city and about nearby Caddo lake. Thereís so much romance of the Old South and so much early Texas history to be absorbed along the streets and byways of Jefferson that a casual visit is seldom enough. Those who only sample the heritage of the city often return for more extended visits, especially during the annual spring historical pilgrimage.
Just south of the Trail highway crossing of Caddo Lake, (12) via FM 2198, is Caddo Lake State Park, one of the stateí most unusual parks. Caddo Lakeís history makes it one of the most interesting localities on the Trail. This, along with the haunting beauty of moss-draped cypresses, superb fishing, and abundant birdlife and wildlife, lure and enchant photographers, naturalists, sportsmen, and all lovers of the out-of-doors.
The lake was probably first formed by the great new Madrid earthquake, which occurred in 1811. (Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee was also formed by that quake.) Later, the logjam that made Big Cypress navigable also raised the water level in Caddo Lake, permitting riverboat traffic.
In a riverboat tragedy in 1860, the Mittie Stevens burned near Swansonís Landing, with a loss of 60 lives. Had the victims known that the water was only a few feet deep, they could have waded to shore.
Pearl hunters swarmed to the lake around the turn of the century when pearls were found in freshwater mussels. Later, an oil boom caused dozens of wells to be drilled in the well itself.
Because the lakeís maze of channels can be confusing, the state has marked 42 miles of "boat roadsí on Caddo through the favorite haunts of the rare birds, wildlife, fighting fish, and fishermen.
The state park offers an interpretive center, recreation and camping facilities, cabins, trailer sites, nature trails, and boat ramps. Its official address is Karnack, just off the Trail highway (see Trail Map). In Karnack a marker denotes the cityís distinction as the birthplace of Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson (Claudia Alta Taylor) wife of President Johnson, born on December 22, 1912.
The Karnack post office is built of brick salvaged from the "Old Taylor Store," which was owned and operated by Mrs. Johnsonís father. The Taylor home (14) (not open to the public) is three miles south of Karnack, on Texas 43 near the intersection of FM 2683; it was built in 1854 by a Colonel Andrews. Across the highway is a sign that has become famous: "T. J. Taylor - Dealer in Everything."
Between Karnack and Marshall, beautiful pines along the highway confirm that this is indeed the Texas Forest Trail, but for a reminder steeped in history, leave the Trail highway and take whatís called the "Sunken Road" (15) to Marshall, an unpaved road turning west off the Trail one-half mile south of the Taylor home. This route is straight ahead to an intersection 3.7 miles from the Forest Trail, bearing right at that fork. From this point to Marshall is the "Sunken Road" section, where the wilderness is barely disturbed by the ancient travelway on which pioneers traveled.
A Jim Bowie legend recalls that he was jumped by robbers while riding a remote "sunken" road in East Texas. He had recently taken delivery of his famous Bowie knife in Natchez, Mississippi. Legend says he killed two of the robbers, decapitating one of them with a single blow.
Population is 23,682 and the Altitude is 375
An outstanding museum is in the remodeled former Harrison County Courthouse, in the center of the city, on Peter Whetstone Sauare, Open Tuesday through Sunday, it displays Caddo Indian artifacts and has pioneer and Civil War exhibits.
Review Marshallís attractions in the state travel guide, and for up to the minute information and a drive-by tour map of historic sites, visit the Chamber of Commerce, at 213 West Austin Street.
Spring in Marshall is especially pretty, with wildflowers in bloom, but donít rule out December. More than half a million visitors take advantage of the cityís three million Christmas lights outlining the old courthouse and businesses in the city during the holiday period, from late November through the New Year.
There is a great deal of history in this city that was once a plantation center, so allow plenty of time in Marshall.
Five miles west of Marshall, at the FM 968 intersection, are two large old oaks. An unmarked grave there (16 is believed to be that of Benjamin Barton, who was murdered during the lawless period of the Regulator Moderator War ( 1839 - 44) , a power struggle between vigilante groups.
If Trail travelers look to the north along this segment of the Trail, they will notice that a slight difference appears in the Piney Woods scenery. The rolling hills, much like those in Pennsylvania, become colorful treats in autumn, as they support more hardwoods than pines.
A number of mineral springs in this area were once famous spas, but almost every evidence of that turn of the century activity has been eliminated.
To the south, Trail travelers will see heavy machinery about a half mile from the road. In the Porkie community, it is the site of a huge lignite fired power plant. Fuel for the plant comes from surface mines southwest of the site.
A peaceful era of the areaís development is recalled by the Noonday Camp meeting Grounds, a restful picnic spot four miles north of the Trail, on FM 450 out of Hallsville. Meetings (started in 1898) were originally held in a brush arbor, and years ago special trains brought worshipers to the spot. The old tabernacle, which was built 90 years ago, remains, and meetings are still held two Sundays in July.
Early settler of the Hallsville area depended on the protection of Fort Crawford, at first a fortified private home and later a Republic of Texas fort, about a mile south of the present city. The town experienced a phenomenal boom when the railroad arrived in 12869, and the Texas and Pacific Railway shops were located here until 1873. At that time they were moved to the city of Marshall.
Gregg and Harrison Counties
Population is 79,311 and the Altitude is 389
Review Longviewís entry in the state travel guide, and visit the convention and visitors bureau, at 100 Grand Boulevard, for information on the city, its historic sites, and the East Texas Oil Field. Youíll find details about a museum of Caddo Indian culture, local brewery tours, and art museum, and more.
Between Longview and Kilgore the Tail crosses the Sabine River, and in the lowlands adjoining it, you can see pipelines that carry the products of this oil-rich area. Individual lines can be identified by color codes on fence posts where the pipe crosses under the fence. Each company has distinctive colors for easy identification by low-flying pipeline patrol planes, whose trained pilots can spot oil leaks from the air. The painted fence posts are seen many times in this area.
Gregg and Rusk Counties
Population is 11,066 and the Altitude is 371
More than 1,000 oil derricks once towered over Kilgore, but only a handful remain today. The wells were drilled in the 1930s during the era when derricks were left in place over each well, and the town became famous for its "forest" of steel. During the holidays, these historic derricks become giant Texas Christmas trees with multicolored lights. Today wells are drilled by modern, portable "jackknife" rigs that are folded and moved away when the well is completed, leaving only a pump or "Christmas tree" ( a complicated collection of valves that control the flowing well). The new drilling methods, plus conservation regulations that prohibit closely spaced wells, preclude there ever being another concentration of derricks like those that were here.
When visiting Kilgore, review its summary in Texas-On-Line, cities in alphabetical index, or stop at the Chamber of Commerce, 1100 Stone road, for full details on the cityís attractions; the Rangerette Showcase, the Worldís Richest Acre, and the superbly east Texas Oil Museum. In addition to those excellent offerings, Kilgore remains an important supply center for the great East Texas Oil Field - an expanse that once saw more than 17,000 operating wells and that has produced some four billion barrels of oil.. The 21st century will still see significant production here.
South of Kilgore the Trail highway passes through New London. A large cenotaph in the highway median recalls a tragedy that shocked the nation in 1937. an accumulation of gas in the New London Junior/Senior High School exploded 10 minutes before school was to be dismissed, killing 286 children and teachers. The present school was completed a year later.
Three miles south is Turner-town, a name that conjures vivid memories for oil field old-timers. East from Turnertown some two miles off the Trail, on Texas 64, is a monument to early oil field workers - the Joe Roughneck Park. "Joe" is symbolized by a bronze bust on a piece of drill pipe.
A few miles east of the intersection of US 79 and FM 1798, a historic treaty was signed. In 1836, when the Republic of Texas was preparing to fight Mexico, Texas sent Sam Houston to negotiate with the southern Cherokees. The treaty gave the Cherokees title to their lands in return for remaining peaceful during the Revolution. The Indians honored the treaty. The Texans did not.
There are many sawmills in this forested area; so are large industrial facilities, and some are small local mills such as those seen at New Salem. The town was settled by Southern planters before the Civil War and was some of the towns on the "Old Wire Road," a stage route that crossed Rusk County from northeast to southwest.
A short distance south of New Salem, a road provides entrance to lake Striker. (21) Commercial facilities offer recreation and camping. Excellent bass fishing is reported.
The Trail turns east Reklaw ("Walker" spelled backward), a town settled in the early days of the Texas Republic. It has given its name to the Reklaw Formation, an iron-bearing formation like that at Lone Star. nearby Iron Mountain brought a flurry of miners, prospectors, and settlers in the 2860s and in 1891, but the industry never developed.
Population is 30,872 and the Altitude is 283
Although founded by the Spanish, the city grew from a wide variety of settlers ---French, blacks, Indians, and Anglos---into what has been called a "creolized population." Although fading fast, traces of the Hispanic culture remain. Read about Nacogdoches in Texas-On-Line, cities in alphabetical index, or visit the Chamber of Commerce, in the historic Blunt Home, at 1801 North street (US 59), for an area guide, maps, and literature. Nacogdoches is steeped in history, from North Street itself (the oldest public thoroughfare in the U.S.) to the Old Stone Fort to the site of Texasí first oil well to historic homes and museums, all making the city worthy of an extended visit.
Texas 21 in this area is an especially historic road - once part of the first "interstate" (actually international) highway system in North America, known as El Camino Real, the Royal Highway. The name was given by Spanish rulers to primary routes connecting provinces. El Camino Real, probably laid out in 1690, stretched from St. Augustine, Florida, to San Antonio and down through Mexico city to Veracrus. Northeast of Mexico City, branches of El Camino Real led to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and through California past San Francisco. This Texas portion of the Trail route was well established and traveled when the first English colonists were still struggling to secure their foothold in Virginia.
The favorite Spanish vehicle was the Carreta, a two wheeled cart with solid wood wheels that were rarely greased and shrieked with every revolution. In bad weather pack animals were a last resort.
Along this stretch of the Trail is halfway House, (23) an excellent example of a stagecoach stop. Built in 1830, it is under renovation and is easily visible from the highway but is not open to the public.v
Other historic homes in the area are marked. On the south side of the highway is the old Garrett house, (24) built about 1820. It is not open, but a marker details its history. Watch also for the McFarland house, by the Demming water plant; (25) it was the home of Thomas S. McFarland, who laid out the city of San Augustine. Just west of San Augustine is an opportunity for a pause at an inviting park.
San Augustine County
Population is 2,337 and the Altitude is 304
History walks the streets of San Augustine, once the principal eastern gateway to Texas. Sam Houston was a familiar figure on the streets, and Davy Crockett was feted here on his way to the Alamo. A host of historic homes and sites are well worth the Trail travelerís time. A detailed map may be obtained from the San Augustine County Chamber of Commerce, 611 West Columbia Street (Texas 21).
On the southern edge of the city is a marker to the Mission Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de los Ais. It was built in 1716, abandoned in 1719 at the threat of French invasion, and re-established in 1721. San Augustine grew around this mission. The first settlers trapped wild horses for sale in Louisiana. at least three colleges existed in San Augustine before the Civil War.
En route to Lufkin the Forest Trail enters Angelina National Forest at Macune and makes its first crossing of the huge Sam Rayburn Lake.
Population is 30,206 and the Altitude is 328
Review Lufkinís attractions in Texas-On-Line, cities in alphabetical index , and visit the convention and visitors bureau at Loop 287 and Chestnut Street, for information on a Woodland Trail, visitor activities, and historic sites. Certainly, no Forest Trail experience would be complete without a visit to the Forestry Museum with its excellent informative exhibits.
At the north edge of Diboll, FM 2497 leads northwest one mile to Ryan Chapel, established in 1866. Its $13.60 mail-order bell has summoned churchgoers since 1907.
West of Zavalla the Trail re-enters the Angelina national Forest, (26) the smallest of the four national forests in Texas, covering 154,392 acres in parts of four counties. National Forest recreation areas offer vast campgrounds, swimming, boating, picnicking, and nature trails.. Through the multiple-use concept, Texas national forest are preserved for recreation, water supply, game management, and controlled lumbering.
Timber harvested in Texas national forests includes sawtimber, veneer stock, poles, piling, and pulpwood. Principal commercial species are loblolly, shortleaf, longleaf, and slash pines, several kinds of oaks, ash, magnolia, sweeetgum, blackgum, and hackberry. Dogwood and redbud are the main flowering tees among the 3,000 varieties of plants that flourish in the area.
At Zavalla the Trail turns toward Lake Sam Rayburn. On the lakeís west shore, just north of the Trail Highway, via FM 3123, is Casells-Boykin State Park, (27) with a boat ramp, fishing, and camping facilities. A delightful picnic area is at the lakeshore.
East of Zavalla the Trail spans two miles of open water across huge Sam Rayburn Lake. (28) Several access roads on both sides of the lake lead to recreation and camping areas operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
South of Pineland, on U.S., 96, other access roads (to the west) lead to recreation facilities on the lake.
Six miles south of Pineland the Trail enters the western edge of Sabine national Forest, (29) a vast area stretching more than 50 miles along the Sabine River boundary between Texas and Louisiana. Loop 149 to the west goes to Mill Creek Park, on Rayburn Reservoir. An entrance fee is charged.
Headquarters for Lake Sam Rayburn is at the dam, which the Forest Trail crosses on FM 255. visitors are welcome, and information is available.
Just west is Overlook Park. Note the highway cut. It exposes the Cathoula Formation, buff-colored sand and mud that is of interest because itís a uranium-bearing formation, although not of commercial concentration. Uranium deposits result from radioactive material found in volcanic ash. Such ash is widespread from prehistoric volcanoes in the Pecos region of Texas, but only in rare localities has groundwater action concentrated the element in more than trace amounts.
On that segment of FM 1747 where it is concurrent with FM 2799, notice the handsome old home (32) just south of the Trail; it was built in 1856 by R. C. Doom, an early Texas customs agent, merchant, and legislator for both the Republic and the later State of Texas.
FM 2799 goes west tow miles (off the Trail) to the old Bevilport landing on the Angleina River, where in the 1830s the docks were busy and the stores were packed with travelers. Today thereís a boat ramp and a picnic area.
On the west side of FM 1747 is the homesite of Dr. Stephen H. Everitt, a New Yorker who came to Texas in 1835. He was a singer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and a senator of the Republic of Texas.
Just south is a sign pointing to one of the Forestry Associationís Woodland Trails. Itís three miles to the Trail entrance, where the hiking trail leads to the Angelina River. Rare and unusual plants are found here, along with more than 50 species of trees, shrubs, and vines that are identified. Any one of the Woodland Trails provides an intimate look at forest ecology and gives added dimensions to the travelerís understanding of the Forest Trail region.
Martin Dies jr. State Park is on the eastern shore of 13,700 acre Steinhagen Lake. Park Road 48 leads to camping and complete outdoor recreation facilities on both sides of the highway.
Population is 2,636 and the Altitude is 232
Woodville bills itself as the "Northern Gateway to the Big Thicket," since three unites of the national preserve are in Tyler County. Each has a walking trail. Detailed information is available at the Chamber of Commerce, 507 North Pine (US. 287). The chamber also has information on the Heritage Village Museum, a living museum of pioneer life thatís a prime stop for those interested n this country and its history. Also, ask for directions to an unusual golden pine tree---one of only tow known specimens that turn golden in the winter.
Other Woodville attractions are detailed in Texas-On-Line, cities in alphabetical index.
Travelers will note the abundant birdlife here; the entire city is a bird sanctuary. The city also contains many beautiful trees. Three miles east off US 190, is another Texas Woodland Trail. Delightful at any time for the year, it is especially beautiful during the Dogwood Festival, which is held in late March and early April. Weekend pageants and activities draw visitors from afar to this springtime festival.
A prime feature of the Forest Trail is the Alabama Coushatta Indian Reservation. (See Livingston and Woodville in Texas-On-Line, cities in alphabetical index). The entrance to the reservation is on US 190, 16 miles west of Woodville.
Sam Houston, who had always been sympathetic to the Indians, was instrumental in having two square miles of land (1,280 acres) designated as a reservation in the 1850s. In 1928 an additional 3,071 acres were added. The tribes who lived here were first mentioned by DeSoto when he traveled their territory in Mississippi and Alabama in 1541, but by 1800 most had moved into Louisiana. from there they drifted into Texas in the early nineteenth century.
The reservation has an excellent visitor program featuring a Living Indian Village, where tribal members employ traditional skills in handwork. Big Thicket tours are available, along with scenic camping areas, a fishing lake, and swimming. The village is open daily during June Through August and on weekends March through May and September through November; closed entirely from December through February.
Between the reservation and Camden, the Trail slices through deep forests and Big Thicket scenery. The Big Thicket is a historic name for a vast area of tangled woods and innumerable streams in all or part of eight East Texas counties. Rare birds and flowers, including some 15 varieties of wild orchids, flourish here. This immense forest, marsh, and swampland effectively blocked the way west for Louisiana migrants in the early days.
The Big Thicket national preserve is a series of "unitesí; in an area roughly bounded by Jasper, Livingston, Liberty, and Beaumont. Each unit is an ecological pocket with distinctive flora and fauna. Little development has occurred at the units, but information for side trips off the Trail is available at Woodville or the Indian Reservation.
CAUTION: Do NOT wander into the Big Thicket on foot without a guide.
Camden is the site of major logging operations of the U.S. Plywood Champion Papers Company; formerly the W. T. Carter and Brothers Lumber Company. A Woodland Trail (39) three miles east on FM 62 (off the Trail) features century old pines and nesting holes of rare, red-cockaded woodpeckers.
Moscow, a small city on the divide between the Neches and Trinity River watersheds, had home of the earliest sawmills of the area and, even in 1885, a mule-drawn streetcar from the railroad depot to the hotel. Then, as now, the cityís name was pronounced "Mosko." A native son was W. P. Hobby, who was the governor of Texas from 1918 to 1920. An attractive picnic area with a historical marker is named in his honor.
A Woodland Trail one mile south on US 59 meanders along the banks of Long King Creek.
About 12 miles west is the historic Bethel Baptist Church, which has served a congregation since 1849.
At the intersection of US 190 and FM 350 is the opportunity for a side trip to Livingston, one mile to the east. Check the state travel guide for attractions there, and visit the Chamber of Commerce, at 516 West Church Street. (US 190).
West of Livingston the Trail crosses Lake Livingston, which covers more than 84,000 acres and is the site of Lake Livingston State Park.
Approaching the Lake, note how the highway cut has sliced through symmetrical sandstone formations. Called "cross-beds," these shapes show the interlacing of old sand dunes that formed in the bed of an ancient river.
"Pointblank" sounds like Old West jargon, but it actually comes from the name Point Blanc (given by a French settler). A marker is in place at the home of George T. Wood, the second governor of Texas. make local inquiry for directions to his marked grave just south of town in the family plantation cemetery.
Coldspring, seat of San Jacinto County, is just off the Trail. Within a couple of blocks is a Methodist church whose bell has signaled services for well over 100 years. A restored-jail museum on Slade Street is described in Texas-On-Line, cities in alphabetical index.
The city is a typical Deep South courthouse town reflecting an African flavor. One example is "shotgun houses" ---called that because the rooms are in a row, with central doors that, if opened, could allow a shotgun to be fired straight through the house. Itís an African house type introduced by slaves.
Between Coldspring and Waverly, the Trail bisects Sam Houston national Forest, Double Lake Recreation Area is south on FM 2025 and provides n excellent glimpse of typical Big Thicket country and its tangled growth. Recreation and camping facilities are provided.
In Willis the historic Elder House is near the intersection of US 75 and FM 1097. A historical medallion gives details.
Population is 27,610 and Altitude is 213
In deep forest country, Conroe exhibits the qualities of an ideal small town and is also within commuting distance of the stateís largest city, Houston. Itís an easy 40 mile drive on I-45. Tourist information is cheerfully given either at an information center at the intersection of I-45 and Texas 105 or at the Chamber of Commerce, 101 West Phillips Street (Texas 105 westbound.)
The Conroe Oil Field (46) gave impetus to the cityís growth when it was discovered in 1931. The fields southeast of the city, has produced more than 400 million barrels of oil. Historical markers in the field include one placed where a wild well fire burned for three months in 1933. That roaring fire was finally killed by the first directional drilling in the area. The crater left by the blowout and fire is a small lake today.
Between Conroe and Montgomery they trail passes lake Conroe, formed by the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, and moss-festooned trees present a traditional picture of the Old South. But immediately west of the river, the towering conifers of the East Texas Piney Woods are replaced by pasturelands, and beef and dairy cattle are in abundance.
Population is 356 and the Altitude is 286
Named for General Richard Montgomery of American Revolution fame, the small community is a commercial center for western Montgomery County.
Historical sites and buildings marked in Montgomery include several along the Trail route. Just north of the intersection of Texas 105 and FM 149 is the Davis Cottage, rebuilt in 1851 with materials from an 1831 log house. The kitchen area is "new", built in 1880.
Next door is the nineteenth century law office of Judge Nat Hart Davis, where many famous early Texans read law to pass bar examinations. On the nearby community hall lawn are markers regarding the town, the county, and patriot Charles B. Stewart.
Off the Trail, on Texas 105 approximately 11 miles west of the city, is Plantersville. Six miles south, on FM 1774, Trail drivers will find a medieval village nestled on 237 wooded acres. During the fall (October through November) the village awakens during the Texas Renaissance Festival. Read the details under Plantersville in Texas-On-Line, cities in alphabetical index.
Between Montgomery and Huntsville the Trail reenters the tall pine forest section, cutting through a portion of Sam Houston national Forest. (44) Pines prefer an acidic soil and plentiful rainfall, and thatís what this area provides. the soil came from a marine mud---sediments deposited over millions of years when this region was a submerged continental shelf.
Typical of the many small and remote churches that are seen along the Forest Trail is Farris Chape, (48) on FM 1791. built in 1841, the church has served many faiths and also has seen duty as a school. Note the facilities for "dinner on the grounds" behind the church. These dinners and other church-oriented events were welcome opportunities for early settlers to meet with friends and neighbors, a custom forgotten in much of America but still enjoyed here by many who cling to their mellow heritage.
At the western edge of Huntsville the Trail crosses I-45 and four miles south on the interstate, the Trail traveler will come upon Huntsville State Park, (49) with recreational and camping facilities.
Population is 27,925 and the Altitude is 400
Review Huntsvilleís listing in Texas-On-Line, cities in alphabetical index, or visit the Chamber of Commerce, at 21327 Eleventh Street (US 190), for complete information. One of the cityís distinctions is the headquarters unit of the Texas Department of Corrections. On the south side of the square is a museum devoted to memorabilia, a re-created cell, the old electric chair, and other prison artifacts. Open afternoons Thursday through Sunday and Saturday mornings.
Between Huntsville and Trinity the Trail passes through forest, farming, and ranching areas. Country Campus is the Sam Houston State University experimental farm.
Trinity County, lying north of the Trinity River, is 77 percent forested. The Trinity Chamber of Commerce, at 1006 South Robb Street, has free maps showing scenic nature trails on beautiful woodland drives.
Houston County (to the north), the first county created by the Republic of Texas 1836, was named for Sam Houston. Although two thirds forested, the county also has extensive beef, poultry, dairy, and cotton industry and has produced more than 32 million barrels of oil since 1934. Jut north of Lovelady, lignite was mined in the 1920s. The shafts are abandoned now, but the area is being considered for a power plant using strip mining rather than the old tunnel and mule process.
Population is 7,024 and the Altitude is 350
Built around a Tennessee type town square (Spanish squares were open plazas), Crockett is believed to be the fifth-oldest Texas city. Obtain directions to the many historic sites in Crockett from the Chamber of Commerce, 310 East Houston (Texas 21), and for general information check the listing in Texas-On-Line, cities by alphabetical index section.
Between Crockett and Ratcliff, highway cuts reveal the red earth of the Yegua Formation, created ages ago as deposits of a vast river delta. Itís the same formation as mentioned near Lovelady, ant it also contains lignite.
A few miles east of Crockett the Trail highway enters Davy Crockett National Forest. The entrance to Ratcliff Lake Recreational Area, a National Forest Service park, is accessible from the highway. Camping and recreational facilities are abundant. The jewellike Ratcliff lake is famed for its excellent fishing.
The Trail continues through the heart of the forest. Loblolly and slash pines in this area were once considered nearly worthless for commercial use, but with new techniques developed through research, they have become valuable sources of both pulpwood and lumber.
At the intersection of Texas 21 and FM 227 is an opportunity for a short side trip to a historic mission site. To the northeast, 1.5 miles on Texas 21, is Mission San Francisco de los Tejas State Historic Park, In a beautiful wooded area of Davy Crokett National Forest, the park offers picnicking, camping, rest rooms, and fishing. In the park is a replica of the first Spanish mission in East Texas (1690), at the Tejas Indian village of Nabedache, which was established to counteract French influence in the area. It was abandoned because of the hostility of the Indians (whose name means "friendly") and then reoccupied from 1716 to 1719. In 1721 a final attempt to establish it also failed.
Also in the park is the Rice Stagecoach Inn, relocated from its original site in Houston County and restored to its early nineteenth century condition. Admission to the park is charged.
Between the mission park area and Slocum, the Trail winds along old and new highways through long-established farm and ranch areas. Slocum was completely rebuilt after a cyclone destroyed it in 1929. the city got its name from the post office, finally established in 1898, was so slow in coming.
The scenic beauty of this East Texas area is apparent in any season, but those who drive through in the springtime are particularly fortunate. Floral events are popular, and Palestine offers one of the best.
Population is 18,042 and the Altitude is 510
Since 1939 the Texas Dogwood Trails have drawn thousands each April for the spring spectacular. Trails are marked through the flowering countryside, and maps are available from the Chamber of Commerce.
The state travel guide notes several attractions in this historic city; for up to the minute details visit the Chamber of Commerce, in the historic (1914) Carnegie Library building, at 502 North Queen Street, where you will find the Texas State Railroad schedules, balloon launch schedules, suggestions for scenic tours, and lots of other helpful information.
Northwest of Palestine is Montalba ("white mountain"), named for the white topped hill to the northeast that has the highest elevation in the country. The Brush creek community (at FM 837) may appear almost deserted unless you are there on the one day a year when hundreds of descendants of Brush Creek families gather for their reunion.
About five miles north of Frankston is Lake Palestine, where fishing is rated as excellent. On the north shore a marker tells the story of the Neches Saline. Early settlers noted that the Indians and the wild animals obtained salt from an outcropping. Early Texans from as far away as Nacogdoches (75 miles) came to this spot to boil down their salt supplies, and the first plant was established in 1830.
The starting point of the Forest Trail is seven miles north, at Tyler, and although the Trail has not covered all the forests of Texas, it has given insight into this region that contributed so greatly to the history and development of the state. But a word of caution. Against these green-canopied forests, compare rugged mountains thrusting more than a mile high, table flat plains stretching to infinity, vast sun bleached deserts, and hundreds of miles of golden sand along the sea. That too is Texas, and there are other Trails, listed within the Texas-On-Line. The purpose of the Texas Trails is planned pleasure driving to make the most of every mile, introducing Texas in regional portions. Have fun, and Happy Trails to You and Yours, Texas-On-Line.