JEFFERSON, TEXAS: One of the early settlers in these parts was
Captain William Perry, owner/builder of the Excelsior Hotel. What's a navy
captain doing in Texas? Seems this city held the distinction of being the only
dependable port in North Texas. Today it is home to the Texas History Museum.
From Jefferson you're just a stones throw from Lake O the Pines (last photo).
MONEY, MAPS AND A MOTELY CREW
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY
I think Ms. Intrepid slipped one in on me by stopping at Jefferson.
I remember, when I was checking Uncertain on the Internet,
Ms. Intrepid was checking out another city which looked real familiar
as we entered downtown Jefferson.
Jefferson is the Fredericksburg of East Texas. Prettier
in some ways. It's one of those red brick street towns with an old -timey
horse-drawn buggy, groomed and polished and waiting for tourists. Everything here
looks historic, even their ATM machines.
o we stopped, while I took so many pictures they all started looking alike.
Then I walked across the street and took some pictures looking back the other way.
Then I got back in Nigel the Land Rover and we repeated the event somewhere up the
I didn't see everything, but I hear tell that if
you're not the horse and buggy type you can catch a ride on a mule-drawn wagon. Or
if you need wheels under you, they have bicycles built for two.
I can't comprehend the attraction because, the way I
see it, when you ride on one of these contraptions you become the attraction. And
when I'm exploring a new place I'd rather it didn't stare back.
We prowled around a bit in Nigel the Land Rover.
Then, right at the end of a street was a massive two-story brick building that had
a nearly wore out mural covering one entire end. By chance we stumbled upon a money and
map museum properly known as the Museum of Texas History.
One quick tour through their extensive exhibit of early Texas currency and you'll come
away with the notion that anyone with a printing press in cahoots with a bank or a bar
could go into the treasury business. Some of these bills may not have been worth the
paper they were printed on back then on but they sure were pretty. Nowadays their
worth far exceeds their face value. A lesson for future reference: Hold on to
worthless money. Its antiqueable.
Now, I can't speak for all men, but I love maps.
Not necessarily the ones that have every thing -- well -- all mapped out, so you
know exactly where things are; but old maps that show where things used to be, or where
someone thought some place ought to be, hold my interest.
Mostly you're talking about maps made by men who were
lost and decided to make a map of the place and give everything names to suit
themselves. Then when everyone who followed got lost in the same places they could
point to the map and say, "I think we're right about here..."
One of my favorite maps was "compiled" from other
maps for Stephen F. Austin in 1830. He had never even seen most of the places on his
map. That didn't matter cause somebody had. However, he did add a personal
touch. Austin put "Silver Mines" on the map right near his colony.
The mines weren't there but that didn't matter. This was a Texas land deal and
Austin had to offer settlers a more compelling reason to move in than certain death at the
hands of the entire Comanche Nation.
As luck would have it, the museum was selling
portfolios with 19 old maps and a 66-page User's Guide all for about $65. I bought
that and a magazine on Early Texas Currency (about $6) and headed for the door before I
left all of my money to the museum.
Leaving Jefferson we continued on to Lone Star
stopping along the way so I could get a few pictures of Lake O the Pines before nightfall.
Arriving in Lone Star we passed the local bank
advertising free checking and overdraft privileges -- sounds like my kind of place. We
passed a General Dollar store and a Family Dollar store (why they always pair up remains
one of life's pointless mysteries). But does Lone Star have Lone Star t-shirts? No.
Do they have a motel? No. Do they have churches? Yes. Yes Yes.
Not finding what we were looking for, not even an
inviting neon Beer sign, we headed on up to Dangerfield scouting for a motel. We
located one right off and pulled in, then back out again.
You see, there was a motley crew hanging around
outside drinking beer and such, and it being a Friday night and all you can't blame 'em.
Normally I ain't put off by a few rowdy-looking boys, but this bunch looked like
they just knocked of a convenience store and was expecting the law at any moment.
Then we followed a sign to a "lakeside
motel". Before we laid eyes on the establishment I told Ms. Intrepid that I was
willing to go as high as $65 a night. (I reckon I was getting kinda mental
considering how I loose I was getting with money.)
Suddenly, there it was. Four or five
cinderblock units all stuck together with neatly arraigned lawn chairs rusting away out
front. There wasn't a soul in sight. Turning around we saw the proprietors
lodging with a fairly sizeable collection of clutter arraigned all random, like the way
young'uns leave toys after play. Ten dollars a night woulda been top dollar in my book.
We were only a few hours from a motel we knew was
decent, so it was back to Nacogdoches for the night.
PAGE 1: DESTINATION UNCERTAIN / PAGE 2: UNCERTAIN AGAIN
PAGE 3: CADDO LAKE / PAGE
4: JEFFERSON & LONE STAR
PAGE 5: DAVY CROCKETT NAT. FOREST
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