focal point of this Sunday Drive is Palestine, the county seat of
Anderson County and a town whose history parallels the arrival of
the railroad in the l870s. But you'll also have the opportunity
to see some excellent rural scenery.
Start your Sunday
Drive with a tour of downtown Palestine. The Chamber of Commerce
offers an excellent walking tour guide which will carry you to several
points of interest, including:
Redlands Hotel at 400 North Queen. Now a nostalgic galleria
of specialty shops, the old hotel thrived from 1915 to 1918 and
then served as an office building for the next four decades.
Public Library, located at 502 North Queen. Built in 1915,
the building is a recorded Texas historical landmark.
Jewelers, located at the corner of Oak and Sycamore. This business
is known as the oldest continuous retail store in Texas and the
oldest jewelry store west of the Mississippi River.
Bakery, located at 500 North John, known for its world-famous
fruit and pecan cakes. The bakery has been in business since l898.
of East Texas Culture, originally the old Palestine High School.
Exhibits in the museum deal with various aspects of Anderson County's
history, including an excellent section on railroad history. The
museum is located adjacent to the John H. Reagan Monument and
Park near the downtown area.
offers a wealth of Victorian homes, located primarily on
Sycamore, Perry, Hodges, Link, Kolstad, Mallard, Magnolia, Reagan
and Royall streets. Few of the homes, however, are open to the public,
but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the exteriors during a
Another feature of Palestine is its abundance of stained glass
church windows, including those at Sacred Heart Catholic Church,
503 North Queen; First Christian Church, 113 East Crawford; the
First Presbyterian Church, 410 Avenue A; First United Methodist
Church, 422 South Magnolia; St. Philips Episcopal Church, 106 East
Crawford; and Grace United Methodist Church, located at Kolstad
Palestine is also the western terminal of the Texas
State Railroad, which runs regular passenger service with old
steam locomotives and restored coaches between the city and Rusk.
The tours start around Memorial Day and end around Labor Day. Be
sure to check with the local Chamber of Commerce for reservation
Five miles west of Palestine
on Texas 287 is the National Scientific Balloon Facility,
the launching site for balloons reaching high altitudes. Visitors
are welcome, but you should call ahead for reservations.
continue your Sunday Drive beyond Palestine,
turn north on Texas 155, but before you leave the city limits, turn
to the left on Link Road and make a drive through Davey Dogwood
Park, a spectacular area during the spring when the dogwoods
are in bloom. The park's main road winds five miles through the
Return to 155 and continue north to its intersection with Farm Road
321. Near the intersection is a state historical marker noting the
importance of two Anderson County towns, Plenitude and Mound
Prairie, during the Civil War. Both settlements, now ghost towns,
made rifles, grist mills and cotton gins used in the Confederate
At the highway intersection, turn the east toward Montalba
community, which lies at the intersection of 321 and Texas 19. The
town's distinctive name comes from a nearby mountain.
continue in a western direction on 321 to Tennessee
Colony, head south on Farm Road 645 To Tucker,
named for an early settler known as Colonel Tucker.
on U.S. 79, you'll find Old Magnolia, a cluster of old buildings
representing turn-of-the-century life in East
Texas. The theme park, built by schoolteacher/carpenter Bill
Gibbs, is open during the Dogwood Trails season and for special
events such as group gatherings.
Continue in a westerly direction to Long Lake, where you
should veer back to the east on Texas 294 toward Elkhart.
A few miles from the intersection, look for a historical marker
to Old Magnolia, a Trinity River steamboat port. In the 1850s,
Magnolia consisted of about 800 residents and included a drug store,
land office, blacksmith shop, tavern, cotton gin, general store,
school, church and a hotel, the Hagood, known all over Texas
for its hospitality. Dozens of steamboats docked at the town's wharves,
but the railroad
eventually killed trade on the river.
Continue your Sunday drive to Elkhart,
named for a friendly Indian who helped early settlers. At Elkhart,
head west on Farm road 319, and then turn south on Farm Road 861
to the Pilgrim Church and Cemetery, which has been in continuous
use since 1833 when Rev. Daniel
Parker built a small log house of worship. A replica of his
original church still stands on the site. The Parker
family earned an additional place in Texas
history when a Comanche war party attached Parker
Fort near Mexia,
kidnapping Cynthia Ann Parker, who adopted the ways of the Indians
and married Comanche chief Peta
When you leave Pilgrim, continue on 861, which will carry you back
Then turn south on Texas 19, but pick up Texas 294 to Slocum
a few miles outh of Elkhart.
Continue through Slocum
until you come to the intersection with Farm Road 323, which will
return you to Palestine.
one of the oddest names in East
Texas; it was reported named by a local wit because of the slowness
in securing a post office which was finally established in l898..
"It's been slow to come," he reportedly remarked.
For meals, we recommend Lobo's Little Mexico at Palestine,
one of the best Mexican food restaurants in East
Hotels Book Here
additional information about places found on this Sunday Drive, contact
the Palestine Visitor and Convention Bureau, P.O. Drawer I, Palestine,
TX 75801, telephone 214/723-3014.)
Excerpt by permission of author Mr.
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