Texas's Red River Port Tour Finally, old ST has been parked in that dark hot garage since our last good ride to Louisiana, six months ago. I only got one little run since then to Denton for their anniversary and street fair, including a car show with every year Corvette on display. It's been a long hot summer and fall this year, in north central Texas. My idle circuits were gummed up from old gasoline residue and I could not maintain a steady idle. It took two tanks of fresh gasoline(R+M/2 93) before I could maintain my 1200 rpm idle again.Old ST (ST1100), little brother ST1300 and our buddy V-Rod, head out on a beautiful Indian summer day to tour Central East Texas. Our goal was to tour all the points of interest but, we underestimated the distance and time required to make this loop. We made the ride in one long day but, we had to push to do it and we did not get to spend the time to really enjoy the many fine points of this area of TEXAS. .The digital thermometer and clock at the land office on US 287 East of Eureka was showing 66F at 9:00AM, when we rolled toward Cayuga and Farm road 59 North. This part of East Texas is wooded with lots of rolling hills and open ranch land. Farm road 59 runs on the bluff over looking the East bank of the Trinity River valley. Cayuga was originally a shipping port on the Trinity. The area cotton and produce growers shipped their crops to the port of Houston.Our first break is at Cross Roads, in the school district parking lot. We admire a rock wall constructed in the 1930's by the 'Works Projects Administration'. A brush arbor camp meeting of Baptist was held at this point where the road from Athens to Wildcat Ferry and the road from Malakoff to Palestine crossed, and gave the location the name Cross Roads. The original community was named Thompson Mill in 1890s after a water powered mill on Wildcat Creek.Our first fuel stop is at Athens, the â€œBlack-Eyed Pea Capital of the World', located on State highways 19, 31 and US highway 175 at the center of Henderson county and the county seat. Athens was named in hopes of creating a cultural center in the 1850's. The Cotton Belt Railroad built in 1880 and the Texas and New Orleans Railroad in 1930, made Athens a commercial center, with cotton gins, cotton seed oil mill, cotton compress, a newspaper, bank and telephone company. Today Athens is the host to the â€œOld Fiddlers Reunion' in May and the â€œBlack-eyed Pea Jamboree' in July.North on Farm road 59 takes us across numerous creeks and lakes with beautiful ranch land, on our route to Chandler. South of Chandler, we get into the traffic Jam created by the â€œPow-Wow', a local festival. Our clutches are over worked and the pilot's clutch hand gets a real work out. Chandler is twenty five miles northeast of Athens in northeastern Henderson County. The area originally inhabited by Caddo Indians, was settled in 1859 by Alphonso H. Chandler as a one store town. The town was named after Chandler when he donated land to the Texas and St.Louis railroad built in 1880. Chandler is now a growing residential community on Lake Palestine, a 25,560 acre lake on the Neches River.East from Chandler on TX31 takes us into Tyler. Our standard procedure for all county seats is a tour of the town square and a visual appraisal of the county court house building, grounds and all Civil War Monuments. Smith County court house is very plane with a small park area on the West side. We had a very nice visit with locals, campaigning on the square, for Ron Paul. Most of our visits to county seat squares locate a local cafe or restaurant well worth the stop. This tour did not disappoint, we found â€œDon Juan on the Square', and the extensive Tex-Mex menu with very reasonable lunch prices.A walking tour of the square and we experience a timeless dry goods store, â€œLevines' and others. I bet Iva Lois bought this old ST pilot some Levis there back in 1954, when he lived here? We notice a couple having lunch on the roof of a local flower shop, indicating the nice weather we are experiencing in East Texas and most of the State this time of year.The city of Tyler was authorized in April 1846 by the Texas legislature in the center of Smith County, designating it the county seat. The town was named for President John Tyler in recognition of his support to admit Texas in to the United States. Tyler is located ninety-nine miles southeast of Dallas on US highways 29 and 271.As in much of East Texas, the city's economy was heavily dependent on slavery. In 1860 more than thirty-five percent of the total population of 1,021, were slaves. Not surprisingly, Tyler residence voted overwhelmingly for secession, and local men volunteered for army service in large numbers. The largest Confederate ordnance plant in Texas, during the Civil War was located in Tyler. The Tyler area lost one million fruit trees to peach blight in the early 1890's, many farmers turned to growing roses, which proved ideally suited to the climate and soil. The rose industry developed into a major business and by 1940's more than half the US supply of rose bushes were grown within ten miles of Tyler.Texas highway 155 north is very commercial all the way to Winona at the intersection with Farm road 16 in northeastern Smith County. The area was inhabited by Delaware Indians as early as 1818. By 1840's the community had established on the Dallas-Shreveport road, later became Farm road 16. In 1877 Winona became a station on the Tyler Tap railroad. The first hard-surfaced road built with county funds, the Dixie highway, extended from Tyler to Winona and was finished in 1914.We pass through Big Sandy Switch, named for its railroad connections, and on to Gilmer, county seat of Upshur County. Gilmer is in the center of the county on US 271 and state highways 154 and 155. The County was named for US Secretary of State, Abel P. Upshur and the County seat for Thomas W. Gilmer. They both died in 1844 on USS Princeton from a test firing explosion of new cannon.During the Civil War, Gilmer business's provided hats and leather goods to the Confederate States of America. In early years Gilmer served as a cotton gin center, it once had six gins in operation. In 1890 farmers in the county began producing sweet-potatoes but, had to quarantine the crop in the late 1920's because of an infestation of sweet-potato weevils. When the quarantine lifted, residents organized the East Texas Yamboree, a fall festival to celebrate the sweet-potato harvest.East of Gilmer, on Texas 154 six miles is Indian Rock. The community was named for a large rock, roughly thirty feet in diameter, in which Cherokee Indians had worn depressions by grinding corn.In 1870's Paris, Marshall and Sabine Railroad established the community of Harleton, fifteen miles northeast of Marshall on Farm roads 1960 and 450 and State Highway 154. Harleton was a timber commerce center with steam saw mill, gin and grist mill, with a Tram railroad to move timber to Marshall.Our first sign of a problem is the usual number of motorcycles on the back roads. Our plans of a quiet tour of this historic East Texas landmark, is not going to happen. We are in the middle of the â€œ10th Annual Boo Run Benefit'. This one was started to benefit Charles â€œBoo' Chaler after an accident resulting in 95% of his body being burned. Today the rally is to support the â€œPercy Johnson Burn Foundation' that benefits burned children. With no place to park plus lots of loud motorcycles and music, we turn south on US 59 and roll out of town.Jefferson is the county seat of Marion County located on US59 and Texas 49, on Big Cypress Creek and Caddo Lake, in the south central portion of the county. It was named after Thomas Jefferson when it was founded in 1840's by Allen Upquhart and Daniel Ally. As the western most outposts for navigation on the Red River, Jefferson quickly developed into an important river port. During the late 1840's efforts were made to clear Big Cypress Creek for navigation. Within a few years steamboats were regularly making trips from Shreveport and New Orleans. By transporting cotton and produce down stream and returning with supplies and manufactured good, Jefferson became the state's leading inland port.Two events occurred that eventually spell the end to Jefferson's importance. The first was the destruction of the Red River Raft, a natural dam on the Red River above Shreveport, significantly lowering the water level in streams and surrounding lakes, made the trip to Jefferson difficult. The second and more important to Jefferson's decline was the completion of the Texas and Pacific Railway form Texarkana to Marshall which by passed Jefferson.Lately Jefferson is known for its places of historical interest, including numerous mid-nineteenth-century homes, churches and other structures. In 1971 roughly a forty-seven block area containing fifty-six historic structures was listed in the National Register of Historic places. In addition ten other buildings are in the register, including the Antebellum Excelsior Hotel, Planter Bank and warehouse.Our next stop is the Sonic in Marshall on Texas 59, for a little ice cream break then refuel the tanks for the long ride back.Marshall is located on I-20, thirty-nine miles west of Shreveport, Louisiana, in central Harrison County. The town was named in honor of Chief Justin John Marshall and became the county seat in 1842. Marshall was the first town in Texas to have a telegraph; by 1854 the local paper had a telegraph link to New Orleans.Marshall voted unanimously for secession in 1861. A Federal Army detachment advanced up the Red River toward Shreveport-Marshall area in the spring of 1864, but an invasion was averted when Confederate forces won the battle of Mansfield, Louisiana. During the spring of 1865, Marshall was occupied by United States Troops.The Southern Pacific Railroad built before the Civil War from Caddo Lake to Marshall, was absorbed by the Texas and Pacific System during early 1870's. The T & P Railroad located its shops and general offices for Texas in Marshall. Southwest on Texas 43 from Marshall takes us through more small communities on Pine tree lined beautiful Texas two lanes to Tatum, twenty-one miles northeast of Henderson on the Rusk-Panola County line. The town was settled in 1840's by Albert and Mary C. Tatum. In 1848 the Tatum's build a plantation in the area, it was so large that the boundaries were said to be â€œout of gunshot sound of the mansion'. A marker was placed near Tatum in 1976 to commemorate Trammel's Trace, an early trade route.Continuing on Texas 43 southwest to Henderson, the county seat of Rusk County, located near the center of the county per state requirement. The city was named for the first Governor of the Great State of Texas, James Pinckney Henderson, in 1843. The Henderson and Overton Branch railroad was completed in 1877 and connected with the Illinois and Great Northern at Overton. In addition to being a shipping center for agriculture products, Henderson was also a center for education, with a number of private schools.The Great East Texas oil field discovered in Rusk County near Henderson in 1930 caused the population to increase from 3,000 in 1930 to 10,000 in 1933. Henderson has fifteen historical markers, including the â€œVictorian Deluxe Arnold Outhouse', giving Henderson legitimate claim to fame as the location of the â€œFanciest Little Outhouse in TEXAS'.Farm road 13 west of Henderson eight miles is Price, in western Rusk County. The Rev. Joseph H. Price first organized a Methodist Church there in 1852. Time for another break, we park on the school parking lot in the shade of large Pecan trees, beside a working pump jack (oil well). The pilots lay out on the ground for a little rest from us two wheeled machines.We cruise through Troup, Mixon and Mount Selman into Frankston for another fuel stop and short break. With the daylight running out and the pilots getting tired, we push on with fewer stops and less time to enjoy the scenery.The ride west on Farm road 13 and 855 would be a wonderful ride and we could enjoy the scenes if we were not facing the Sun and tired from an all day ride of over 300 miles.The last leg of the ride on Farm Road 837 is one beautiful area of rolling hills, ranch land with lots of creeks and ponds. The communities of Brushy Creek, Bradford, and Springfield, have signs but very few structures. Farm road 2961 picks up at Bradford and takes us back to Farm road 59, then Cayuga and US 287.This was a Great Ride but, it is too long for one day. If the Good Lord allows us to do it again, we will spend the night in Jefferson and look for the ghost in the Excelsior Hotel. The digital thermometer shows 79F at 6:30PM as we pass the land office at the end of another Great ride.
This is a motorcycle ride in the state of Texas. This motorcycle route has 9 scenery characteristics and other road conditions to help you plan your road trip. This motorcycle map was created by ST1100 in July. Click here to see other Motorcycle Roads by ST1100