TEXAS TRAIL OF LAKES

U.S. CORPS OF ENGINEER LAKES

When most people think of Texas they envision endless plains; others picture mesa-framed ranchland. Some remember dense timber regions; returning tourists may recall looming mountains, beautiful hills, or a tropical valley.

The Lone Star State is also a land of lakes! Consider that the state’s more than 5,000 square miles of inland water are exceeded only by Alaska’s glacier locked expanse. Millions of Texans fish the freshwaters, and when all the swimmers, divers, boaters, and skiers are included, the total number of lake users far exceeds the population of this growing state, because visitors love Texas lakes also. The lakes that attract these millions range statewide - from huge Texoma on the Oklahoma border to sprawling Falcon and Amistad lakes on the Rio Grande border with Mexico. Sampling a few of the best in North Central Texas, the Lakes Trail introduces some 30 blue water recreational areas in a variety of settings.

Fishing folk may expect cooperation from native species of fighting bass, catfish, sunfish, crappie, and a starting variety of exotics, including hybrids, foreign , and even saltwater fish.

Boating enthusiasts will find broad, open waters and secluded coves, fine beaches and excellent services. For sightseers, wildflowers are on riotous display many months of the year.

Reminders of pioneer people and frontier events are present at almost every turn. Remnants of early barriers to settlement - the dense East and West Cross Timbers - may still be seen.

Geology buffs will discover intriguing traces of an eerie past - land formed from the Comanchean series of the lower Cretaceous system to the later Paleocene series, marine fossils from a time when much of what is now Texas was a clear, shallow sea, and actual footprints of dinosaurs who roamed these landscapes 100 million years ago.

Before beginning, Trail drivers should obtain a free copy of the Texas State Travel Guide, which provides details about pubic points of interest and bits of history in many of the towns and cities along the route. An Official Highway Travel Map will also prove useful to the traveler. Both may be obtained by mail from the departmental address at the end of this article.

Prepare to enjoy the Texas Trail of Lakes. The starting point is Dallas, the major metropolitan area on the route, and the route description is presented in a clock wise direction. But the Trail can be picked up at any point and driven in either direction.

Dallas

Dallas County

Population is 1,006,877 and the Altitude is 512

In 1841 a single log cabin marked the site of present-day Dallas; John Neely Bryan’s cabin can be seen today at the Dallas County Historical Plaza, at main and Record streets, downtown.

Dallas’ attractions could fill a library - lakes, sorts, fashions, operas, symphonies, theaters, art galleries, and fairs. For abundant details, visit either the tourist information office in the Renaissance Tower, 1201 Main Street, Suite 2000; the visitor center in Union Station, 400 South Houston Street; or the entrance to West End marketplace, 603 Munger Street.

Before setting out on the trail, check out the Dallas area Lakes: White Rock Lake offers boating, fishing, a hike and bike trail, and a scenic drive exceptional in the spring when the redbuds and wildflowers bloom. Smaller but also scenic, Bachman Lake, (2) along Loop 12 near Love Field, offers pleasant picnic spots, roller skate and paddleboat rentals, and a 3 mile hike and bike trail with 18 exercise stations.

The 2,710 acre Mountain Creek Lake, reached via U.S. 80 West, usually offers good fishing; the adjacent city park has rest rooms, picnicking, and a boat ramp. Just south of Mountain Creek is Joe Pool Lake, a 7,740 acre expanse of clear water nearly ringed with parkland. For details on Pools extensive facilities, visit the headquarters in Loyd Park, south of I-20 via Great Southwest, Harwood, and Arlington Webb road.

Also, just northeast of the city is Lake Ray Hubbard, a 22,745 acre impoundment on the East Fork of the Trinity River. Crossed by I-30, it is an enormously popular area for water sports, weekend cottages, and leisure homes. Anglers seek spectacular hybrid stripers and abundant white bass.

Twenty two miles to the northwest, via Texas 114 and Texas 121, Grapevine Lake has 60 miles of shoreline around 7,380 surface acres. The Corps of Engineers headquarters (off Texas 121, east of Grapevine) offers information about numerous lakeside parks, with camping, picnic, boating, and fishing facilities. As at most such Texas lakes, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department manages the wildlife and fish resources in cooperation with the lake authority. Walleyes have been introduced here, and excellent catches of native species are often reported.

Another excellent lake, Lavon, lies off the Trail route but is well worth a visit. Interpretive exhibits are at the headquarters near the dam off Texas 78 east of Wylie. Lavon is noted among anglers for its outstanding crappie and catfish catches. Prime large mouth bass habitat is among several thousand acres of flooded timber. Warm water from a power plant discharge results in faster growing fish and increased action for wintertime anglers.

The Trail north of Dallas generally follows the old Shawnee road, and Indian trail that in the 1850s became a route for American immigrants coming to Texas. A historical marker at Lebanon Baptist Church notes that for a short period the trail was also used to drive Texas cattle to northern markets.

Past Frisco, the village of Little Elm lies on a north arm of Lake Lewisville. Recreational facilities and a public boat ramp are nearby. South of the Trail off F.M. 423 is Lake Lewisville state Park, a 638 acre park with picnic areas, rest rooms, fishing, boating, and multiuse campsites.

The 29,700 acre lake (formerly Garza - Little Elm Reservoir) is another extremely popular watersports site in the DFW metro area. Nearby, at the site of a former fish hatchery, a colony of persistent beavers finally won their battle to dam a small creek. Each night the beavers built; each morning state employees unstopped the dam. Finally, camouflaged pipes within the beaver dam left the beavers content with their pond and provided a sufficient water flow to the hatchery.

Along U.S. 380 is a scenic valley panorama cradling the Elm fork of the Trinity River.

Denton

Denton County

Population is 66,270 and the altitude is 620

Cultural attractions in Denton center around the two institutions of higher education: the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University. UNT began in 1890 as a private school. TWU, which opened 11 years later, is the nation’s largest university for women.

Four miles south of Denton (off the Trail) , by U.S. 377, is a prominent 900 foot hill known as Pilot Knob. It was once a hideout of the notorious Sam Bass, a nineteenth century Texas outlaw. The Denton County Chamber of Commerce, at 414 Parkway at Carroll, a few blocks south of U.S. 380, will provide area information.

Between Denton and Aubrey, the Trail route introduces some vies of typical Texana - horse ranches large, small and medium sized. Well-cared for acreage’s provide handsome backgrounds for the horses. Although most breeders raise quarter horses, the sturdy steed favored by ranchers, there are also thoroughbreds and occasional draft horses.

In this area, the Trail of Lakes is crossing a region known as the East Cross Timbers - dense, narrow band of blackjack and post oak woodlands dividing the Blackland Prairie to the east from the Grand Prairie to the west. The timber belt was a prominent feature to early colonists and marked the edge of frontier settlement until about 1870.

Wildflowers are abundant in springtime, and some will be seen year-round. Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush lead off the season. The subsequent weeks and months yield spectacular waves of color including gaillardia, Mexican hat, horsemint, Texas bluebells, daisies, McCartney roses, sunflowers, asters, and gay feather. To the west, trail travelers will see the waters of the new Lake Ray Roberts, (12) Fishing is permitted, and development of other facilities is under way.

The village of Pilot Point, named for a timbered peak that was an early travel landmark, was platted on Christmas Day in 1854. It grew as a bustling trading center with mills, cotton gins, and two railroads. Note the historically significant old bank building on the square.

The Trail continues north to Tioga, hometown of famous Western star Gene Autry, then turns west on F.M. 922 to F.M. 372, and then proceeds along a winding route to Gainesville as it crosses a region of Cooke County’s earliest settlement, with views of remaining timber plots, farmland, more horse ranches and oil productions. Since a 1926 discovery, the county has produced more than 200 million barrels of oil.

Gainesville

Cooke County

Population is 14,256 and the altitude is 738

Gainesville, established in 1850, was first stoop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Brick streets downtown edge brick Victorian homes and public buildings adorned by intricate masonry and ironwork. Visit the Chamber of Commerce, at 101 South Culbeson Street, for details about lodging, dining, recreational facilities, and festival events.

On I-35 north of the city is a Texas Travel Information Center, which is operated year round. In Gainesville there is a four mile side trip option to Lindsay, on U.S. 82 West. There at main and Ash streets, is Saint Peter’s Catholic Church, (13) a splendid Romanesque cathedral with a spectacular interior. The church was organized in 2892 by hardworking German immigrants, and the present church building was constructed in 1918 to replace an earlier one destroyed by a tornado. This structure was built mainly by the frugal congregation, who salvaged old windmill towers for reinforcement beams.

Off the Trail, about 12 miles northwest of Gainseville via F.M. 1201, is scenic Moss Lake, (14) nestled amid wooded hills. Boat ramps are easily accessible, and fishing is usually very good.

At a highway picnic area about five miles east of Gainesville, a marker cites the significance of this cross Timbers region. In Whitesboro, another historical marker recalls an early ranch founded by the Diamond Brothers, one of whom also founded the pioneer newspaper that today is the Houston Post. The pleasant town of Whitesboro offers one of many access routes to Lake Texoma, about 16 miles north via U.S. 377.

Sherman

Grayson County

Population is 31,601 and the altitude is 728

Eleven years after the first courthouse was built here in 1847, it was torn down - to settle a bet as to whether a gray goose was nesting under it. Unfortunately, history fails to reveal the outcome of the wager. Sherman later earned the title, "Athens of Texas" because of the unusual number of colleges established here. Austin College, one of Teas’ oldest, was originally established in Huntsville in 189, then moved to Sherman in 1876.

Such industrial giants as Johnson and Johnson, Grumman, Texas Instruments, Fisher Controls, Folger, Libbey-Owens-Ford, Kraft, and Oscar Mayer have facilities in an industrial park along U.S. 75 South.

Additional information about the area can be obtained from the Sherman Chamber of Commerce, at 1815 Sam Rayburn, for up to the minute local details.

On the Trail route between Sherman and Denison is access to the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, a major food and rest haven for migrating and wintering waterfowl on the Big Mineral Arm of Lake Texoma.

Some 307 bird species have been recorded on the refuge, which is visited by some 135,000 people each year. In addition to huge flocks of migrants passing through each fall and spring, observers may see killdeer, snowy egrets, rails, plovers, and sandpipers in the summer; and great blue herons and other wading and shore birds in the winter. When oil was discovered on the refuge in 1951, development proceeded with care. Today some 200 carefully maintained wells produce vital energy in harmony with the refuge’s abundant wildlife, which utterly ignore the oil operations. Deer browse next to nodding pump jacks; egrets and herons perch on the well structures. From the Trail route about five miles north of Sherman, take F.M. 691 and F.M. 1417 north to Pottsboro, then a local road to refuge headquarters. Visitor information and bird lists are available there.

Dennison

Grayson County

Population is 21,505 and the altitude is 767

Denison was established in 1872 as a railhead for the first rail line into Texas from the north. To cheering crowds, the first Missouri Kansas, and Texas (Katy) train arrived on Christmas Day, and railroading has been a major Denison industry ever since.

Denison visitor features include the restored birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower, now a state historic site; one of Texas’ most popular recreation parks, also named for Eisenhower, located on the shore of Lake Texoma; a collection of nineteenth century log cabins and pioneer structures at Grayson County Frontier Village, and other sites of visitor interest.

For even more details, visit the Denison Chamber of Commerce, at 313 West Woodward Street.

Be sure to ask about the nearby tiny community of Fink, whose name attracts visitors in pursuit of amusing whimsy. There is even a Fink golf tourney in June that brings together the Finks, Fincks, Finkes, and non Finks from surprising distances.

Lake Texoma, as some of the world’s largest reservoirs, the lake sprawls across 89,000 acres of Texas an Oklahoma. There are some 50 public access areas to the lake along 580 miles of shoreline. Lakeside facilities range from picnicking and tent-camping sites to luxury hotel-marinas with special docks for cabin cruisers. More than 10 million people visit Texoma annually. For a panoramic view for the lake and a powerhouse tour, drive to the Denison Dam, on US 75A (off the Trail).

Texoma fishing is often fabulous. Texas’ foremost native game fish (black (largemouth) bass, run to lunker size ( the largest weighed more than 12.5 pounds!), but introduced Florida bass promise to grow even bigger. The lake’s bread-and-butter fish are white (sand) bass, locally called "sandies," which average 2 to 3 pounds and are caught by the thousands, especially during National Sand Bass Festival Week each June, Texoma has yielded a word record Kentucky spotted bass (over 9 pounds), a crappie over 4 pounds, a 116 pound blue cat, and a 124 pound flathead catfish.

Texomas’ glamour sport fish is the striped bass. Originally a saltwater species, stripers readily adapt to fresh water, and their success in many Texas Lakes has been phenomenal. In recent years, Texoma has been swapping striper size records with two or three other Texas lakes. Can you imagine using freshwater tackle and hooking one of these magnificent, silvery champions...nearly four feet long and weighing over thirty pounds?

East of Denison, hills and wooded landscapes introduce a scenic drive that parallels the Red River. This stretch of the Trail route changes highway designations frequently, requiring close reference to the Trail map and to highway Trail signs and arrows. These are tranquil rural landscapes ---rolling farmland, grassy pastures with grazing livestock, and densely wooded plots of post oak, pecan, elm, walnut, hickory, ash, and Bois d’ arc --- a French name meaning " bow wood."

Bonham

Fannin County

Population is 6,686 and the Altitude is 568

Founded in 1837, as Fort Inglish, the town’s name was changed to honor James Butler Bonham, whom history calls "the bravest man at the Alamo." An attorney from Alabama, Bonham came to Texas in 1835 to share in Texas’s struggle for independence. During the Alamo siege, he twice slipped through enemy lines to seek reinforcements (unsuccessfully),. the second time he fought his way back in, even dragging his wounded mount the last few yards, and he died with all of the other defenders. A stature on the courthouse lawn honors this frontier patriot.

The small city has some choice visitor sites, as detailed in the state travel guide. Foremost among them is the home and memorial library of Sam Rayburn, a Bonham native who served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives longer than any man in American history. There is also picturesque Bonham State Park, just four miles south of town.

For information and directions to local historic and recreational sites, stop by the chamber of commerce, in the restored railroad depot, 110 E. First Street.

The Trail route to the north soon crosses arms of Lake Bonham. An excellent small park near the dam on the south shore provides picnic facilities and campsites, rest rooms and trailer dump sites.

Three miles north of Ivanhoe village ( a daily stage once ran to Bonham) is Park Road 34, leading northwest to Lake Fannin. A graveled road passes through heavily wooded areas broken by several small clearings. Panhandle National Grasslands of the U.S. Forest Service administers the area under a multiple-use policy for recreation, range, watershed, and wildlife protection. Around Lake Fannin are several picnic areas in invitingly primitive settings, and public fishing areas on the small lake are nestled among the trees.

Two lakes lie beyond the sight of Trail travelers who are en rouge to Monkstown; Coffee Mill Lake and Lake Crockett, both on Caddo National Grasslands.

Access to the 700 acre Coffee Mill Lake is a few miles south, via first FM 2029, then a rather primitive local road eat. But fishing is good, and there are picnic areas, a boat ramp, and a fishing pier. To reach Lake Crockett, drive south on FM 100 for four miles; turn west at a stand of loblolly pines. Visitors will find camping areas, a boat ramp, bait shop, and Davy Crockett Lodge, with accommodations and meals at modest prices. Area wildlife includes deer, wolves, and smaller animals; local sportsmen call the 450 acre lake "one of the best" in Texas for duck hunting. No skiing or swimming is allowed here.

The Trail from Monkstown swings near appropriately named Riverby, crosses small Bois d’Arc Creek, and continues to Direct, where Indian burial grounds have been found.

East on the Trail is Pat Mayse Lake, a Corps of Engineers impoundment. The 5,993 acre lake, completed in 1967, offers catches of black bass, crappie, sunfish, striped bass, channel and flathead catfish. Fish and wildlife management is directed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Animals include an abundance of deer and smaller animals, plus an occasional fox. The quail and dove populations range from good to abundant. Facilities include several lakeside parks with boat ramps, picnic and camping sites, rest rooms, showers, swimming beaches, and nature trails. Detailed visitor information is available at the project office at the east end of the dam.

Much of the area now covered by Pat Mayse Lake was once Camp Maxey, a large infantry training camp during World War II. Army air and ground Special Service personnel trained at the camp’s elaborate infiltration course and at "German Village" there. A marker along the trial into Paris details the history of the camp.

Just north of Paris is access to Lake Crook. Anglers are welcome at the 1,226 acre lake, which also offers lighted picnic areas, playgrounds, and boat ramps.

Paris

Lamar County

Population is 24,699 and the Altitude is 592

Founded in 1839, the city was virtually consumed in 1916 by one of Texas’ worst fires, which destroyed the entire business district and a wide swath of residential areas. A handsome fountain on the downtown plaza commemorates the city’s vigorous recovery.

Paris enthusiastically bills itself "The Perfect Place - where the past is preserved and the present is pure pleasure." Refer to the state travel guide for a list of Paris’s public attractions, and for more details visit the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce, 1651 Clarksville Street.

The large, modern plant that travelers see on the Trail highway leaving Paris is a Kimberly - Clark facility that manufacturers a product vital to many American households.....baby diapers.

The Roxton area has been the site of several significant discoveries of prehistoric mammal skeletons.

Between the villages of Ben Franklin and Pecan Gap, the Trail ambles through a corner of Delta County (named for its triangular shape), between the North Sulphur and South Sulphur rivers. Settlement began early in the 1840s, but the dense woodlands - where even experienced frontiersmen became lost - provided outlaw hideouts for decades. The Methodist Episcopal Church South in Ben Franklin is marked by a historical medallion.

Civil War buffs will be interested in a roadside historical marker about a mile south of Ben Franklin that tells of Camp Rusk, a training ground where General S. B. Maxey’s Lamar Rifles combined with militia to form the Texas Ninth Infantry Regiment. The Ninth Marched from Camp Rusk in December 1861 and saw bloody action from Shiloh to Chickamauga to Missionary Ridge.

Another marker a mile south details an early school, Giles Academy, whose first schoolmaster was Thomas hart Benton Hockabday. his daughter, Ela, subsequently founded the prestigious Hockaday School for Girls, which still operates in Dallas.

Villages on the Trail include Pecan Gap, once a stop on the Bonham - Jefferson stage line, and Ladonia. In Ladonia, note the historic Hayden House, west of the square on Bonham Street. The Fulton House, of the same era, is also restored.

As the traveler nears Commerce, it is just a short side trip east of the Trail route to one of Texas’ newest lakes’ Cooper Lake. The lake at conservation level will have an area of 19,280 acres. Facilities are being developed jointly by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

COMMERCE

Hunt County

Population is 6,825 and the Altitude is 548

East Texas State University, which celebrated its centennial in 1989, is a major cultural and economic factor in this town founded by William Jernigan in 1853. Recreational facilities include parks, swimming pool, tennis courts, golf-course, and abundant water-oriented activities on nearby Lake Tawakoni.

Commerce is the birthplace of General Claire Chennault, the leader of the famous Flying Tigers of World War II in China.

Area event information is available at the chamber of commerce, located at 1107 Main Street.

South of Commerce, the Lakes Trail passes the ETSU Agriculture Ranch and enters an area of timbered ranches and row crops.

The village of Campbell was the site of Henry College, 1892, and, later, Emerson College, which absorbed the earlier school. Although enrollment exceeded expectations, two years of severe drought in the agriculturally dependent area forced the school to close in 1906.

Lone Oak signals the approach to popular Lake Tawakoni (pronounced ta-WAK-onee). South of Lone Oak, FM roads lead west to Wind Point Park, at the southern tip of Pawnee Inlet - the first of many excellent fishing and watersport facilities on the huge reservoir. Businesses that cater to fishermen and boating enthusiasts will share their knowledge of fishing sports, techniques, and bats that prove effective in various seasons of the year.

Off the Trail, Texas’ longest inland bridge crosses Lake Tawakoni on FM 35. A free public boat amp is at the east approach to the two-mile bridge.

Built by Texas’ Sabine River Authority, Tawakoni covers nearly 58 square miles in three counties. Marinas dot the 200 mile shoreline, and treetops rising in giant squares in the lake mark uncleared areas that have been left to protect the interests of fishermen and to serve as wave suppressers.

The name Tawakoni is from a prominent Indian tribe of the Caddoan linguistic group who lived and hunted along the Sabine River as late as 1760. Archeological work has unearthed villages, burial grounds, and fortifications.

Skiing on Lake Tawakoni is within buoy marked areas, and speed limits are strictly enforced throughout. Local services include radio-equipped patrol boats and regular weather boadcasts, as well as day and night weather and navigation signals.

The fishing is often fabulous, and limit catches are frequently the rule rather than the exception. Non-native species such as striped bass and walleye regularly appear on fishermen’s stringers, but the black bass is still king at Tawakoni. Some trophy-class blacks above 10 pounds are landed every year, and fishing tournament groups harvest hundreds of pounds of the battling game fish. "Barn-door" crappie are sought each spring, and big, deep water catfish are pole and trotline prizes thoughout the year.

The Sabine River Authority headquarters at Iron Bridge Dam offers detailed information and directions to public use areas around the lake.

Near the spillway is an impressive overlook of the vast impoundment, which stretches far to the north and west.

From Tawakoni, through the town of Edgewood to Canton, Trail drivers will enjoy a series of tranquil, rural landscapes. Be sure to stop by the Edgewood Park and Museum, a group of restored structures recalling bygone days. The easy to locate park is under the water tower.

Canton

Van Zandt County

Population is 2,949 and the Altitude is 540

A memorial on the courthouse square honors Isaac and Frances Lipscomb Van Zandt, who were prominent in East Texas history. The serene and pleasant square belies the fact that in 1877 residents took up arms to return the county seat from Wills Point, whose residents had persuaded officials to move it there since they were on the railroad. The Texas Supreme Court decided in favor of the forceful Canton citizens, railroad or not.

Just west of the square are the Jockey Grounds, form more than a century the scene of Texas’ best known trading days, on the first Monday of each month (although most of the action is now on the preceding weekend). First Monday Trade Days, as the event is called, draws thousands of browsers to vendors who offer almost anything that has ever been bought, sold, manufactured, grown, or dug up. The tradition began in the 1850s when judges held court on the first Monday of each month, occasions that drew crowds of town and country folk. For more information contact the Canton Chamber of Commerce, 270 E. Tyler Street.

The rolling countryside along the Trail between Canton and Mabank has a picture book quality. South of Mabank the route edges Cedar Creek Reservoir. From the Trail highway, local roads lead to public and commercial facilities at lakeside - bait and boat services, camp and picnic areas, and boat ramps.

Here, resort oriented towns such as Gun Barrel City and Caney City attest to the popularity of the 33,750 acre reservoir that nestles amid post oaks and pines. The lake’s headquarters area is at the spillway south of the village of Tool, on Texas 274 ( not on Trail map), along the west shoreline.

MALAKOFF

Henderson County

Population is 2,036 and the Altitude is 377

The town’s Russian name dates from 1850, when news of the Crimean War brought to prominence that Russian city. According to local history, silver was mined here in the 1830s.

The first Malakoff Man, a sandstone image of a human head, was found here in 1929. Two other carvings were unearthed in 1935 and 1939. Archeologists date the Malakoff Men as thousands of years old, contemporary with the fossils of extinct elephants and camels. The images, now in the Texas Memorial Museum in Austin, were recovered from a gravel pit now under Cedar Creek Reservoir.

The Trail between Malakoff and Corsicana crosses the Trinity River, a name first used by Spanish explorers Alonso de Leon in 16590. Archeology has disclosed human habitation of the area for thousands of years. Abundant Indian villages dotted the riverbanks when European exploration began. After Anglo-American settlement, the Trinity was plied by steamboats to and from the Gulf of Mexico, until railroads ended the riverboat era. Watch for an excellent picnic area in the park-like highway median near the Trinity River Bridge.

Oil production near Powell represents some interesting phases in petroleum engineering. Shallow eels drilled in 1905 still produce modest amounts of oil. Upon deeper drilling in 1923, gushers from this single, six square mile field equaled the combined production of 10 other oil producing states. When the gushers faded, petroleum engineers felt there was still valuable "pay" underground, if techniques could be devised to recover it. The now common process of water injection, begun here in 1964, revived the field, which continues to produce today.

As the Trail approaches Corsicana, to the south the travelers can see the waters of Richland - Chambers Reservoir. The dam was completed in 1987; the lake was filled by 1989. Commercial facilities are still under development, but fishing is rated as exceptional. The lake is the third largest totally within Texas.

Corsicana

Navarro County

Population is 22,911 and the altitude is 411

The town and county names here recall admiration for the most prominent Mexican Texan in Texas history; Jose Antonio Navarro. Born in San Antonio when that city was still part of Mexico, Navarro was among the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. He served the Republic of Texas, endured several years of unjust imprisonment in a Mexico dungeon, escaped, and returned to serve the State of Texas. All four of his sons enlisted in the Confederate Army. The county is named for the distinguished family and the city’s name honors the island of Corsica, birthplace of Navarro’s father.

For details about the historic sites and the city’s world famous fruitcake, review Corsicana’s listing in the cities by alphabetical section. Firsthand information about local festival events, dining opportunities, and lodging is available at the Corsicana Chamber of Commerce, 120 North Twelfth Street.

Off the Trail but well worth a visit is popular Bardwell Lake, about 20 miles northwest of Corsicana, near Ennis. The 3,570 acre impoundment offers water sport facilities, fishing supplies, and lakeside camps. Crappie fishing is a favorite year round, and during the springtime spawning run, long stringersful are brought out daily. Drift fishing for blue and channel catfish is often productive. Black bass, sand bass, and stripers to 16 pounds can certainly make any fishermen’s day.

The next major lake near the Trail is Navarro Mills. The reservoir headquarters on FM 667 North (not on Trail Map) has up to date information about facilities. Navarro Mills, a 5,070 acre lake, is another spot where striped bass have been introduced. There’s hardly a fishing thrill that compares with a striper’s powerful streaking dive to the bottom when it’s hooked.

Between Dawson and Hubbard, watch for a slender white monument surrounded by a wrought iron fence. It marks the Battle Creek Burial Grounds, where a Kickapoo war party attacked a mapping party of 25 surveyors in 1838. Eighteen of the surveyors were killed, and all seven survivors were seriously wounded.

Hubbard, named for Texas governor, R. B. Hubbard, was settled in 1881. Baseball’s famed Grey Eagle, Tris Speaker, was born and educated here. The first Texan in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Speaker always returned "home" to Hubbard in the off season; in fact, he was a lifelong Hubbard volunteer fireman. Speaker is buried in the Hubbard cemetery.

Just east of Hillsboro, Hill College houses the Confederate Research Center, with dioramas, photos, paintings, microfilmed records, and original documents on the Civil War. Historic firearms and sharp edged weapons are in the adjacent Gun Museum.

Hillsboro

Hill County

Population is 7,072 and the Altitude is 634

Hill County was explored and surveyed in 1835, but Indian resistance delayed settlement; the city was established in 1853. The first courthouse, in true frontier fashion, was a log cabin. The present courthouse, built in 1890, is a must on the list of sight seeing attractions, flamboyantly combining architectural accents from Classical Revival, Italiante, and French Second Empire. Pause for a look and a snapshot. Refer to the state travel guide for other Hillsboro attractions, and on weekdays visit the chamber of commerce in the restored Katy Depot, at 115 North Covington Street, for more details.

In Covington, a historical marker details the story of early settlement and Gathings College. The marker is two blocks north of the Trail intersection of Texas 171 and FM 67.

The scenic Trail route rambles among ranches, cropland, and poultry farms to Blum, which was winter headquarters for the Mollie Bailey Circus in post Civil War years. Mollie’s husband, Gus, composed, "The Old Gray Mare" folk song when, as legend has it, a Confederate camp was nearly panicked on the eve of the Battle of Manassas by a runaway mare with a load of tin pans.

About 10 miles south of Blum, off the Trail via FM 2604 West, is the site of Frontier Fort Graham, which served from 1849 to 1853. When the frontier moved westward, the post was abandoned, leaving empty barracks subsequently used as shelter by cattle drovers.

WHITNEY

Hill County

Population is 1,626 and the altitude is 585

Scattered settlers came with the establishment of Fort Graham in 1849, but Whitney developed later, when the Texas Central Railroad built through Hill County. Typical of early settlers were John and Jesse Walling, Tennesseans who fought with Sam Houston at San Jacinto. Travelers may picnic at the pleasant Simon Family Park adjacent to the Trail in town. Review Whitney’s recreational opportunities in the state travel guide and visit the chamber of commerce, at 403 South Bosque Street (Texas 22 at Tin Top Village) for more details.

Lake Whitney and Lake Whitney State Park deserve superlatives. The abundant visitor facilities include hiking trails, screened and open shelters, paved trailer stands along the lake, dump stations, an airstrip, a fish cleaning station, rest rooms, and showers. Boating, swimming, skiing, and fishing are all popular.

Lake Whitney’s 23,560 acres stretch up the Brazos River some 50 miles. Sixteen Corps of Engineers parks, numerous commercial camps, resorts, lodges, and marinas line Whitney’s 225 mile shoreline. More than four million visitors enjoy Lake Whitney each year without crowding its broad open waters and innumerable secluded inlets. In many places cliffs edge the clear, blue waters; deer graze lakeside meadows; scuba divers explore underwater canyons about 100 feet deep.

Fishing is superb! Bass - black, white, sand, and those incredible saltwater stripers - are caught in abundance, along with crappie and catfish. The stripers here have established a tremendous population in the 15 pound class. The project headquarters below the dam on the Trail route offers maps and other information. Postcard like scenery appears about 13 miles west of Whitney, on FM 219. Note the scenic gape in the range of hills to the north.

Take a side trip across the Bosque River to Clifton, a city dating back to 1854, with revealing influences of its Norwegian founders. The Chamber of commerce, at 327 West Fifth Street (FM 219), will provide details about the center of Norse settlement a few miles from town.

Between Clifton and Meridian, the Trail sweeps in broad curves through scenic pastures, farmland, and Bosque County hills.

Meridian

Bosque County

Population is 1,390 and the altitude is 791

A temporary log cabin courthouse was the first building in Meridian, established July 4, 1854, when Bosque County was created. The present courthouse, on a typical Tennessee type square, was one of the earliest permanent structures in town.

Four miles southwest, via Texas 22, is Meridian State Park, a quiet retreat popular with nature enthusiasts. Bank fishermen often enjoy success with bass, crappie, and channel catfish on small meridian lake there.

More rewarding scenic vistas accent the Trail route between Meridian and Glen Rose. Low-water crossings along the highway should be approached with caution during rains. Twin domes on the horizons near glen Rose mark the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant.

Glenrose

Somervell County

Population is 1,949 and the Altitude is 680

Charles Barnard established a trading post and mill here on the Paluxy River in 2849, and the wife of a later miller named the village for the abundant wild flowers in the area. Historic Barnard’s Mil still stands at 315 Barnard Street, but it is now a private residence. The town has an atmosphere of quaint, old fashioned charm. Note the frequent use of petrified wood as a decorative building material.

In the summer months, the Somervell County Museum, at Elm and Vernon streets, is open, with displays of relics, fossils, and local history. For more tourist information, stop at the Chamber of Commerce, 200 Vine Street (two block north of the Trial route). And for a picturesque site for a picnic, or just relaxation from the concentration of driving, stoop at Big Rocks City Park, on the Paluxy River about a mile east of downtown

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About 5 miles west, via Us. 67 and F.M. 205, visitors can walk where dinosaurs once roamed - in Dinosaur Valley State Park. Perhaps a hundred million years ago, the earth’s largest land creatures waded here in the swamp of a shallow sea, leaving huge tracks in limey mud. The mud became stone, preserving the tracks. Visitors will see the tracks and replicas of the monsters who made them. The park is unique in Texas, and a rarity in the world. Admission is charged.

Nearby, Fossil Rim Wildlife Ranch offers a drive-through of a 1500 acre preserve for exotic African wildlife. Admission is charged.

The Trail north of Glen Rose crosses Squaw Creek; a marker in a pleasant roadside picnic area details the Squaw Creek Indian Fight during the Civil War period. Another marker along the Trail cites the significance of Comanche Peak.

Lake Granbury is impounded by De Cordova Bend Dam on the Brazos River. The 8,500 acre lake is a very popular water-sports area, since it features numerous parks, camps, and service facilities for outdoor recreation along its 103 mile shoreline.

The dam is named for Jacob de Cordova, a flashy entrepreneur of the 1850s who lectured throughout the East to stimulate interest in Texas. He billed himself "Publicity Agent for an Empire." De Cordova had earlier accumulated Texas land scrip for a million plus acres.

Granbury

Hood County

Population is 4,045 and the Altitude is 725

The town’s entire square is designated as a historic district on the National Register of Historic places. Refer to Granbury in the cities by alphabetical listing in The Texas-On-Line. Or visit the convention and visitors bureau, at 100 North Crockett Street. Ask about abundant historic sites and lake recreation and cruises, plus directions to Texas’ smallest state park. Acton. It is a monument and the grave of Davy Crockett’s second wife.

Consider a side trip to Creason, about 10 miles northeast, on US 377. North of the village, also on US 377, is the Pate Museum of Transportation, with an excellent collection of vintage and classic autos, military planes, a minesweeper, and other exhibits and displays. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Mondays and holidays.

The Trail crosses Lake Granbury just north of town, spans rich bottomlands, and enters range country en route to Weatherford.

Weatherford

Parker County

Population is 14,804 and the Altitude is 1,052

In its early years, during the mid-nineteenth century, Weatherford was the last outpost of civilization between Fort Worth and Fort Belknap, some 75 miles northwest in Indian country, (Fort Belknap is one of the prominent features on the Texas Forts Trail.) This city proudly notes that Mary Martin lived here as a child, and a bronze statue of the actress in her famed role of Peter Pan is at the library, in southwest Weatherford on Charles Street. Details about visitor sites and events may be found in the state travel guide and at the chamber of commerce, in the restored Santa Fe depot, 401 Fort Worth Street (US 80).

The route between the city and Lake Weatherford is pleasantly hilly and winding. A scenic side trip along either shore curves around blue waters from which hills arise abruptly, especially on the western side. Several public fishing areas are available on the lake, and commercial facilities are also easily accessible.

A blanket of lily pads edges both sides of the Trail highway bridge as the route crosses the Clear Fork of the Trinity River and enters ranch country. here are some handsome quarter horse and cattle ranches, plus country homes that, despite limited acreage, reflect a great deal of carefully cultivated portrayals of traditional Old West images - house, barn, corral - perhaps even a chuck wagon parked by the manicured lawn.

Four lakes are available to travelers in the area. To the north via access roads from Texas 199 and FM 730 is 9,200 acre Eagle Mountain Lake, with good year round fishing. A hot spot for schooling white bass in the spring and stocked with several million walleyes, it has long been noted for water sports. On Lake Worth is the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge, where FM 1886 meets Texas 299. Nature trails on the small island lead past bird feeding stations and animal dens to an observation tower and interpretive center. Closed on holidays.

Other area lakes are Benbrook, about 10 miles southwest of Fort Worth via US 377 and Lake Arlington, about 7 miles east via US 287 South. Benbrook is another highly popular fishing lake in this metropolitan region, and Lake Arlington hosts many sailing, power boating, and water skiing enthusiasts.

Crossing Lake Worth Bridge, an off the Trail tour on Meandering Drive lives up to the road’s name as it wanders along the lake shore, over scenic overlooks and shady bridges.

Fort Worth

Tarrant County

Population is 447,619 and the Altitude is 670

Often called the "most Texan of all Texas cities," Fort Worth offers a fascinating variety of things to do and see, as the abundant listings in The Texas-On-Line suggests. The city’s sobriquet, "Where the West Begins, " is exemplified in the Stockyards area, once called the world’s largest cattle processing and shipping points and now restored in authentic Old West Style. Sampling only the highlights offered by the city’s parks, gardens, museums, historic sites, and dining opportunities could fill several delightful days. Visit the convention and visitors bureau, 200 East Fifteenth Street, Suite 400, or the Stockyards Visitor center, 123 East Exchange Street, for a wealth of free visitor literature and details.

Between Fort Worth and Dallas the Trail parallels I-30, along which will be found the state’s premier concentration of tourist attractions; Six Flags Over Texas, Trader’s Village, Palace of Wax, Ripley’s Believe It of Not!, International Wildlife Park, Wet ‘n Wild Water Park --- and the list goes on!!

The Arlington Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, at 921 Six Flags Drive, offers information -- and the Texas Rangers baseball schedule. At Grand Prairie, visit the Tourist Information Center, at 402 East Safari Parkway, for details on this city of 80,000. And at Irving, stop at the visitors bureau in the Irving Art Center, at 3333 North MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 200, for information on this fast growing metroplex city. The center will have information about the Dallas Cowboys and tours of Texas Stadium, and also about the final lake on the Lakes Trail. Lake Carolyn is different from the others on the Trail; it is a manicured, sophisticated lake bordered by a luxury hotel, restaurants, and shops. The lake and the famous monumental bronze sculpture of nine mustangs crossing a flowing stream of water (pictured on the state travel-guide) are located in Las Colinas Center, two miles northwest of the stadium, on Texas 114.

From Texas Stadium, the Trail skirts northwest Dallas on Loop 12, where it began. Those who have completed the Lakes Trail can speak with authority about this fascinating area of Texas. But a word of caution; Texas’ dimensions dwarf even this large region, and there are other parts to discover before the whole can be measured. Against these sparkling waters, imagine desert mountains thrusting more than a mile high, vast, green canopied forests, moss hung bayous, and hundreds of miles of golden sands along the Gulf. That , too, is Texas, and there are other Trails, listed within the Texas-On-Line to guide you through every part of this fabulous State. When travel efficiency is in everyone’s best interest, the Texas Trails are the only way to go!!!