SO you think Trammel's Trace may cross your land. . .

If Trammel's Trace crosses your property, you are the caretaker of a unique piece of Texas history. That is how my interest in the old road started over 10 years ago. My family owns land north of Mt. Enterprise near Hwy 315 and 84. There is a Trammel's Trace historical marker at the Shiloh Cemetery where my wife and I both have relatives buried. I have horrified my mother at speaking engagements by explaining that my interest in Trammel's Trace began when I realized that Crockett, Houston, and Bowie could have stopped for a "potty break" right there on our land!  No matter how your interest begins, knowing the real story about those innocuous ruts is compelling.

  Section of an 1846 map of Rusk County showing Trammel's Trace crossing the B.A. Vansickle survey. Older maps display Trammel's Trace where surveyor's notes called it out and it was show on plat drawings. In 1843, the legal description of 2/3 of the eastern boundary of Rusk County was defined as Trammel's Trace. Click image to go to full map at The Portal to Texas History.

 

Section of an 1846 map of Rusk County showing Trammel's Trace crossing the B.A. Vansickle survey. Older maps display Trammel's Trace where surveyor's notes called it out and it was show on plat drawings. In 1843, the legal description of 2/3 of the eastern boundary of Rusk County was defined as Trammel's Trace. Click image to go to full map at The Portal to Texas History.

So how do you know for sure? In doing field work to "ground truth" all the preliminary research I have a very simple guiding principle - if the maps indicate where Trammel's Trace went, and I go there and find a rut...it is Trammel's Trace!

There are lots and lots of abandoned road ruts across East Texas. Maps after 1845 show the explosion of them all around Trammel's Trace. So ruts alone don't tell the tale. In fact, the ruts across our land look like they do because they are the remains of the first Farm to Market road in Texas in 1937. 

To make my simple principle work requires some careful, detailed research. Over the years, some fellow "rut nuts" and I have met many interested landowners and verified routes. One of my biggest hopes for this website is to generate interest and meet more of you. Here is the basic process we use:

  1. Use address or location of the land to do a general assessment of the possible placement on the route.
  2. Get the headright survey information on the property to verify and begin to determine what original surveys are available.
  3. With various mapping tools, both online and PC-based, use the survey notes to establish latitude and longitude for corners of the survey and for the noted crossings of the Trace along the boundaries. (NOTE: The routes of the old roads within the surveys were approximate).
  4. Make arrangements with the landowner for a visit to verify, document, and photograph remains if found.  The best time of year for this is late fall and winter, when all the leaves and undergrowth are down.

My interest in locating remains of Trammel's Trace is to document and photograph, and to encourage landowners to be good stewards of their piece of history. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss with any landowner.

To get started, go to the ORDERS tab and download a map of the entire route. Then you can also do free downloads of maps and survey notes for individual counties. There is also a tutorial on doing your own research.

Landowners, please call me to answer
your questions about Trammel’s Trace.
— Gary Pinkerton 409.201.8026