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Texas | Columns | Bob Bowman's East Texas

Out-of-the-Way Places

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
A friend once told me his greatest pleasure was driving around East Texas and looking for oddball places seldom found in tourism brochures.

I can understand that.

While places like the Old Stone Fort in Nacogdoches and the Sam Houston home in Huntsville are great places to visit, there are other, out-of-the-way places that have a different appeal for some folks.

For example, a roadside park beside U.S. Highway 287 northwest of Woodville is a wonderful place just for sitting on a park bench, listening to the sounds of the forest, and dipping your toes in a spring-fed pool built by Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the 1930s.

Families come here for reunions, kids enjoy running around the expansive grounds, and Scout troops often camp beneath the tall trees.

Another landmark spring runs from a hillside beside U.S. 175 north of the Neches River southeast of Frankston.

In the days before people got particular about their water, traveling families stopped at the spring, filled a jug or two, and vowed that it was the best tasting water in East Texas.

East Texas is not famous for mountains, but we have some magnificent places with wonderful landscape views.

My personal favorite is Loveís Lookout, north of Jacksonville on U.S. 69. Standing atop the hill, you can see for miles, perhaps even into Louisiana.

Across the highway from the Lookout is a little-used road built into the hillside. Once the main route from Jacksonville to Bullard, the road is noted for a low rock fence, another leftover from the old CCC days.

I keep hoping that Texas will improve the road and set it aside as a historic route. And perhaps the same will happen to the Loveís Lookout amphitheater, where East Texans once watched outdoor musicals.

Another favorite high place is the Neches River Overlook, in the Davy Crockett National Forest, just off Texas Highway 21 near Weches. From here, you can look across the riverís bottomlands. During autumn, the area is awash in gold, yellow, red and purple hues.

There arenít many log homes left in East Texas, but you can see one of the best, the old Gaines-Oliphant home, standing in a housing subdivision west of Toledo Bend Reservoir, just off Texas Highway 21 in Sabine County.

The two-story beauty, built as a ferrymanís home and hotel, once stood beside the Sabine River but was relocated when Toledo Bend Reservoir was built.

We have hundreds of ghost towns in East Texas, but few can match the history and magnificence of old Aldridge in the Angelina National Forest near Zavalla. But, sadly, vandals have defaced the brick and concrete buildings so badly that the site is now closed.

If youíre smitten by the fancy to stand in three states at one time, there is such a place. Naturally, itís called Three States and it lies at the intersection of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas on Texas Highway 77 southeast of Atlanta.

Happy travels.



© Bob Bowman
All Things Historical October 22, 2007 Column.
Published with permission
A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers


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