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 GTT: On the Trail(s) to Northeast Texas

Wagon Train

Immigrants to the northeastern part of the territory of Spain, Mexican state of Texas, the Republic of Texas, and U. S. state of  Texas  followed many routes, but several main roads or trails served those new to the area. Travelers or settlers who came overland or by river became familiar with the Red, Sabine, and Sulphur rivers and Cypress Bayou. Further into the area they were faced with crossing the Neches and Trinity rivers and their tributaries. The earliest Anglo-American penetration occurred along the Red River to the north, and several main routes led these new Texans into the interior.

The Jonesboro to Nacogdoches Road connected to military forts and roads in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) especially Fort Towson and on to the Arkansas territory and the United States to the east. The road headed southward from Jonesboro (or Jonesborough) in Red River County on the Red River passing through present-day Titus, Morris, Cass, Camp, Upshur, Gregg, Rusk, and Nacogdoches counties. In some places subsequently drawn county lines followed the roadway. Like all the early paths, this road in part followed earlier trails used by native Americans principally the Caddo and Cherokee nations.

The Cherokee Trace ran from the Nacogdoches area through present-day Rusk, Gregg, Upshur, Camp, Titus, Franklin, and Red River counties crossing the Red River into Indian Territory. A state historical marker in Camp County six miles north of Pittsburg mentions the rose bushes and honeysuckle vines the Cherokee were said to have planted along the trace to make it easy to follow. An eight-mile stretch of county road north of Gilmer in Upshur County named the Cherokee Trace follows the old path and has a number of heavily wooded stretches. Honeysuckle vines are abundant along the fence lines on each side of the trace. In addition to being a traveling and trading path for the Cherokees, in 1839 this was the path used to leave Texas by Cherokee survivors of the Battle of the Neches fought with an army of the Republic of Texas.

Trammel's Trace crossed into Texas near present-day Texarkana and, often following old Indian paths, wound its way generally southward through Bowie, Cass, Marion, Harrison, Rusk, Panola, and Nacogdoches counties to Nacogdoches. The trace was used as a horse path for trading by Nicholas Trammel, but it became an important trail for those traveling overland into Texas.

The Central National Road of the Republic of Texas was established later in 1844 by the Republic. It ran from Dallas through several Northeast Texas counties and passed through Lamar County on its way to Paris and beyond into Red River County at Wright's Landing which was near old Jonesboro. After crossing the river there, travelers could connect with Fort Gibson Road in Indian territory and roads and settlements in Arkansas and Missouri.

Jefferson in Marion County became the head of navigation on Cypress Bayou, a tributary of the Red River. As riverboats steamed their way to the landing in Jefferson, they made it one of the most important ports in Texas rivaling those who had ports directly open to the Gulf of Mexico. Jefferson became the center of transportation and commerce until railroads built into northern Texas, and many immigrants came not by horseback but first set foot on Texas soil on the docks at that port. Major roads also led to Jefferson as people and goods passed to and from the city. These included roads northward to Bonham, Clarksville, and Mooresville in Bowie County which passed on to Washington, Arkansas. Southward roads led to Nacogdoches through Henderson and to Marshall where there was a connection to Shreveport, Louisiana to the east or Dallas to the west. A road designated the Jefferson-Dallas Road also passed through northern Upshur County.

The Shreveport to Marshall (Shreveport to Dallas) Road generally passed along the route of today's U. S. Highway 80. It was a major east-west overland route between the trade centers of Dallas and Shreveport, Louisiana and the early commercial center of Marshall. Early the main link of the road was that of Shreveport to Marshall. Many immigrants passed along it into Texas.

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