Sadly, History Continues to Fade

On a recent visit up to northeast Texas for Christmas with the family, we made a side trip back through Rusk County along the route of Trammel's Trace. Lignite mining has resulted in thousands of acres of land in Harrison and Rusk counties being dug up, sifted and sculpted back into place. Around 15 miles of Trammel's Trace no longer exists as a result.

I'm sure the good people responsible for restoration of the land would dispute and correct this characterization, but after mining the land is just a movie set version of itself. Soil stratification is gone, topographic features are altered, and though lovely, the land that was no longer exists. That includes the valueless but irreplaceable features of the land such as old roads and trails. After mining, nothing remains on the land which would indicate that history was made across it -- both by the Caddo people who used the trail for centuries and the Anglo immigration in the early 1800s which led to the Republic of Texas.

The pictures below show some of the current state of the area north and south of Tatum. The road to Hendricks Lake, the focus of treasure myth and Trammell legend, is now closed due to mining.  Land that I once walked and documented and photographed remains of Trammel's Trace is now nothing but cleared, sifted land.

Loss of the trail isn't always due to such massive projects. I am communicating with one landowner now who is pretty sure that after using the Trammel's Trace rut on his family's property as a dumpsite for years, they filled it with dirt level with the rest of the pasture. I've seen that more than once. I commiserated with one landowner who when I commented that it must be hard to let his family land be mined, he said, "yeah, it was kind of hard until the Brinks truck pulled up." Without a knowledge of the history, a rut is just a rut.

Though I realize that lignite mining is the type of progress that waits for no one, it is still sad to see Trammel's Trace disappear. That is part of the reason I'm working so hard to help landowners identify and protect any remaining ruts. If you are a landowner who thinks that Trammel's Trace may cross your property, let's talk. You can make a difference.