GARY L. PINKERTON is an author and independent researcher who lives in Houston. See his new book,    True Believers - Treasure Hunters at Hendrick Lake.

GARY L. PINKERTON is an author and independent researcher who lives in Houston. See his new book, True Believers - Treasure Hunters at Hendrick Lake.

Pinkerton’s glimpse at Trammel’s Trace as a ‘smuggler’s back alley’ into Northeast Texas offers a refreshing tale about other roads and characters beyond the traditional narrative of colonization in the Lone Star State. The transformation of Nicholas Trammell from clandestine trader to settled farmer and slaveholder by the early 1840s is a reminder that there remains more to learn about early immigrants to Texas than meets the eye.
— Dr. Francis X. Galan, Ass't Professor of History, Texas A&M-San Antonio


Trammel’s Trace tells the story of a borderlands smuggler and an important passageway into early Texas.

Trammel’s Trace, named for Nicholas Trammell, was the first route from the United States into the northern boundaries of Spanish Texas. From the Great Bend of the Red River it intersected with El Camino Real de los Tejas in Nacogdoches. By the early nineteenth century, Trammel’s Trace was largely a smuggler’s trail that delivered horses and contraband into the region. It was a microcosm of the migration, lawlessness, and conflict that defined the period.

Pinkerton’s exhaustive research in Texas, Arkansas, and other archives has enabled him to describe the trace with stunning detail . . . anyone interested in the history of settlement in the Lone Star State will want this book for their library.
— Dr. James E. Bruseth, was Director of Archaeology at the Texas Historical Commission and led the recovery of LaSalle's ship, the La Belle.

By the 1820s, as Mexico gained independence from Spain, smuggling declined as Anglo immigration became the primary use of the trail. Familiar names such as Sam Houston, David Crockett, and James Bowie joined throngs of immigrants making passage along Trammel’s Trace. Indeed, Nicholas Trammell opened trading posts on the Red River and near Nacogdoches, hoping to claim a piece of Austin’s new colony. Austin denied Trammell’s entry, however, fearing his poor reputation would usher in a new wave of smuggling and lawlessness. In 1826, Trammell was pushed out of Texas altogether and retreated back to Arkansas Even so, as author Gary L. Pinkerton concludes, Trammell was “more opportunist than outlaw and made the most of disorder.”

. . . Pinkerton brings considerable historical and geoarchaeological skills to bear in his in-depth analysis of an often-overlooked early route to Texas. This is, at one level, a detailed biography of a road, but in focusing on a line through the Texas prairies and woodlands that predated formal Anglo-American colonization of the area, the author also makes significant, defining connections that give the reader much more to consider.
— Dan K. Utley, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, October 2017

The book was published by Texas A&M University Press and released in October 2016. They are the state's most prestigious publisher of regional history and I am pleased to be part of their catalog.