Having moved to East Texas over the past Christmas, I’ve been doing all the exploring new town things you do when you go some place new, including a fun presentation last week.
You know how you have regular dips in fields and such? Well, I always thought that was just the run-off point, but I heard Gary Pinkerton talk about how those areas would have been the original trails – wildlife or Indian – particularly when they’re the low crossing points of rivers. He got to comparing early Texas settlers’ letters to topographic maps and figured out where the early roads were, especially Trammel’s Trace which was the original road into Texas.
Nicholas Trammell was a frontiersman who moved down from Arkansas through virgin woods, spurring immigration into Texas. But he was apparently such a ruffian that Stephen Austin specifically banned him from the new colony. So he hung out in Nacogdoches until he got run out of town over a bad business deal.
Trammel’s supposed to have buried treasure somewhere but no one’s found it yet, though one guy actually shot another over hunting it.
Pinkerton is working to get the Trace marked. It’s not big enough like the El Camino Real to be declared an historical landmark, but many private landowners are happy to know. But they’re also leasing property to coal and oil development which changes the physical landscape so that the ruts are not longer visible.
It’s amazing to think how much the land changes even though the ruts remain. At one point all the fields nearby would have been covered with woods and the river banks would have had grasses as tall as a man. Can you imagine trying to walk through that?