From Lufkin to the Lake
Report recap: When we last left our heroine, she was had reached the first planned stopping point after a grueling 5 hour, 138 mile trip.
Today we can talk about Lufkin and the towns along
the way to the next day's destination near Pittsburg, Texas.
Some of these smaller towns get bypassed by the main highway, like Cleveland. The larger towns get a loop, to improve the traffic and keep big trucks and hazardous materials from traveling the populated areas. The loops are where you find the Wal Mart and big box stores, if they have them.
Lufkin has a loop, but it also has a strange split inside of the loop where one part of the highway goes northerly and the other part of the freeway just ... stops. The sign says "Freeway ends in 1 mile" and it does. Weird U-turns, strange merges and two way feeder streets result.
But, after I navigated all of that, I found a City Lake and the Ellen Trout Zoo. The lake had a cool alligator sign, but very few birds. The Zoo was a big surprise.
It is Spring; it is mating season and the male Peacocks were displaying for female peahens, female ducks, squirrels and my shoes. Whatever. It was quite a show, and lots of parents were struggling to explain to their little kids why those big birds were constantly shaking their feathers.
It is a great zoo, there are sections for Africa with Rhinos and
Giraffes. And because this was not Houston, it was not crowded at all. That was different! The only sad part (and zoos are sometimes sad) was a Bald Eagle in a tall cage. I just couldn't look at him at all.
After the zoo, I wandered around downtown Lufkin. They have done a great deal of restoration work and I have a lot of brick and stone detail shots. Patterns and light, textures and shapes. This old movie theater is used for local productions. All of these little towns have many antique stores. I wonder if the younger folks are going to want to buy these old things.
But. This is East Texas, and it was Sunday ... so nothing downtown was open. Only one coffee shop, but no restaurants or stores. That is the way it is there.
Near the Courthouse is a small park. The blank wall was painted by some local artists. I saw this same type of wall art in several of the towns I visited. This one probably was done by art students at the local college; other towns don't seem to have access to the same caliber of talent. I like the train; none of these small towns get too far away from their roots.
So, you won't think I saw NO birds on this part of the trip, that bird is on the main highway at the entrance to Angelina College.
I wandered around the campus looking for smaller birds while listening to the band practice in the building nearby.
Not a lot of luck. I saw some Eastern Bluebirds but they were too fast for me.
Next morning I left on the rest of my 122 mile trip to a ranch near Pittsburg. Next stop, Nacogdoches. This city of approx. 35K claims to be the oldest settlement in Texas, based on Caddo Indian evidence. It has a rich history, from a Spanish settlement to the Battle of Nacogdoches to throw off the Mexican military. Sam Houston even lived in Nacogdoches at one time. It has a great downtown area ... geared toward antiques and tourists.
Everyone else goes to the mall out on the loop.
One of the city websites told me this historic.. picture show... was to be renovated as luxury apartments. I believe the project must be still in progress.
Nacogdoches was nice, but a bit too cute and quaint for me.
Somewhere on this next part I stopped for a break and snacks at a small gas station. It was just a cross road with a blinking light called Mt. Enterprise. When I went in, the young girl clerk told me both restrooms were out of order. I asked her how far to the next clean restroom and she told me Henderson, I think. Anyway it was longer than I wanted to wait. I must have looked disappointed because she told me I could go across the side street to Brookshire Bros. grocery store. "Just go down aisle 13 all the way to the back". Which I did.
Next stop, Henderson.
There was something more solid about Henderson. Its downtown didn't seem to be set up for tourists but was used by the locals. The town is built on a hill and the City Cemetery was close by for exploring. I have some fine photos of tall gravestones and wrought iron fences.
Henderson was a town before Texas was a state, created in 1848. I would like for my UK readers to stop laughing now. We do care about the past and I am trying to show you were preserve and value our old buildings. It is just that ours aren't very old compared to yours.
This clock is downtown on an esplanade on Main Street. I can see it is almost noon, and I know I left Lufkin early, say... 7:30 am. And I just looked it up, Henderson is ... 60 some odd miles. So do the math.I was adventuring at a rate of 13 mph.
From Henderson the next stop is Kilgore. Now, Nacogdoches and Henderson both had booming economies during the 1930s from oil, but Kilgore was the fabled oil boom town. There is an Oil Museum downtown and ... and... I thought about going but it just seemed too much like WORK, so I traveled on down the road to Gladewater.
Gladewater was fun. It has the ubiquitous antique stores, but there were a few local businesses left, too. The bank is still downtown. There is a Historical Marker just off the main street that told me Gladewater was the site of the first franchised motor bus line in Texas. In March of 1925 you could ride the bus from Gladewater to Tyler for $1 with stops in Winona, Starrville and Friendship. The 30-mile trip on paved roads took over an hour.
I wandered around and found this a few blocks from town.
This duplex has had some updates, looks like aluminum windows, but that steep roof, the red brick and rock trim shouts East Texas pre-war architecture. Note the concrete steps up from the street, the wrought iron bannisters and the landscaping (Nandina and Ligustrums).
Update: after showing this to my architectural expert on call, let's move the date back a bit. Probably 1927 or so.
One more stop in Gilmer for some groceries and supplies and then I was on the country roads to the Lone Star Cattle Ranch Company.
Next time I will show you what is back in those trees.
Do you live in a small town? Do you want to live in a smaller place? Do you think you could now that you can order from Amazon just about anything unavailable locally?
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