The Historic Trammel’s Trace

Back when Texas was in the hands of Mexico and then later when we won independence and became a republic, there was only one entrance to the state from the north—Trammel’s Trace.

The path was located in far East Texas where the land is very rugged, wet and heavily wooded.

Trammel's Trace Marker2

Arkansas trader and horse smuggler, Nicholas Trammel, used the old Native American footpath that was hundreds of years old for his smuggling operations beginning in 1813. Trammel was a bit of a scoundrel by all accounts. He was accused of murder, plunder and thievery but was never caught.

Trammel's Trace1

The trace ran 180 miles north from Nacogdoches, TX to Fulton, Arkansas. Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, James Bowie and countless others used the route. And it was very crucial to the War for Independence and later during the Spanish-American War.

Road Ruts
Road Ruts

Trammel’s Trace was printed on maps of the 19th century and provided an important immigration route into Texas for waves of settlers from Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky.

After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to 1813, the route was known as Robber’s Road. That name came about because (1) it was heavily forested and (2) it became a haven for outlaws of all sorts.

Trammel's Tracejpg

The reason Trammel’s Trace ended at Nacogdoches—the route connected with El Camino Real (or Old San Antonio Road) and there was no need to move farther south.

I’ve walked on portions of this vital road and felt as though I trod in the footsteps of so many brave people who came to settle this wild land. Without them I wouldn’t be here.

Do you think you’d have been brave enough to travel this road? I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one person who comments.

(Credit for the first two of these amazing photos goes to Gary Pinkerton – Visit him: )

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

49 thoughts on “The Historic Trammel’s Trace”

  1. Makes me think of Sherwood Forrest, but I’m guessing its outlaws were not known for their charity to the poor (unless it was charity to poor, thieving me). Interesting!

    • Good Morning Rachael……Thank you for coming. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. Yeah, it kinda was like Sherwood Forrest minus the sheriff. Ha! The only law was a six gun. And no, they didn’t give their ill-gotten gain to charity. It must’ve been very scary traveling that road. I doubt few women did until later after they’d kinda gotten rid of a lot of the danger.

      Good Luck on winning the gift card!

  2. I don’t know if I would have wanted to travel that road back then, you never know who you’d run into! Scary thinking about outlaws lurking in the woods! But I would in today’s time, like walking a historic trail 🙂 It looks pretty and peaceful. Thanks for the history lesson, Linda and giveaway!

    • Good morning Trixi…..Thank you for stopping by. I’m glad you came. Yes, it’s very peaceful now although a lot of the road has been lost to development and mining. Makes me sad to see historic places destroyed. Hurts my heart that history is lost by thoughtless people. Preserving history through my books is one of the major reasons I write historical westerns.

      Good luck in the drawing!

  3. My great-great grandfather and his two eldest sons were in Texas during the Civil War (only one son returned), and then after the war the family moved from west Arkansas into Indian Territory, both the Choctaw and Cherokee nations, which was also outlaw territory. My great-grandfather even testified at a trial presided over by Hanging Judge Parker in Forth Smith–but no hanging that time, thank goodness! Much later on, my mother grew up in the state of Oklahoma and then East Texas, from where she got her lifelong East Texan drawl.

    I definitely have the traveling gene (or maybe Merle Haggard’s “White Line Fever”?) from my ancestors since I’ve traveled everywhere tracking my family’s history, following trails not dissimilar to what you described.

    • Hi Eliza……..Thank you for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. You have a very interesting family. I’ll bet your GG grandfather and great-grandfather had lots of stories to tell. I wonder what the trial was about in Fort Smith, but glad no one got hung over it.

      Keep following those trails. You never know where they’ll lead. Good luck in the drawing!

    • Hi Janine…….Thanks for coming. I always enjoy seeing you. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog and learning a little Texas history. Since so much happened here, there’s no shortage of historical things to share. I just love history and discovering fascinating things that happened, especially when the state was getting settled.

      Good luck in the drawing, my dear!

    • Oops–no stolen horses by my family, nor any outlaws either, although there were a number of Indian marriages.

  4. What interesting info! I don’t know that I’d have easily traveled that trail. The “Robbers Road” part seems shady. LOL. I love seeing those places now and imagining myself doing just that.

    • Hi Susan…….Thank you for stopping by. I’m really you enjoyed my post. I walked part of it and it’s rugged terrain for the most part. I sure wouldn’t do it even today in the dark. Kinda creepy. So much has been lost to development though and that breaks my heart. I, too, like to imagine what it must’ve been like back then and what those people must’ve felt going over it for the first time. Scary.

      Good luck in the drawing!

    • Hi Colleen……I’m really glad you enjoyed my blog. I found it fascinating. You would definitely have wanted to travel with a group. Alone would’ve made you an open target.

      Good luck in the drawing!

    • Hi Kathleen…….!! Well, shoot! I certainly didn’t realize that I knew something you didn’t. Now how in the world did that happen? You’re the most widely read person about Texas I know. Actually, I found about it many years ago when I did research for my 3rd book- REDEMPTION. My sister lived in Jefferson and Trammel’s Trace is very near there. I’ll try not to find anything else to best you with. HaHaHa!

      Hugs, my stalker friend!

  5. I would love to have traveled the trace back in the day, especially if I could have been disguised as a boy! What fun. Great bit of history, Linda.

    • Hi Becky…..Thanks for dropping by. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. Yeah, the trace would be a great tidbit to include in a story. I briefly mentioned it in the book I turned in as a possible place where a treasure in gold could’ve been buried. Could certainly be some buried along that stretch.

      Thanks again for coming! I’ve entered you in the drawing.

  6. Back then, I probably only would have gone on that road if it was absolutely necessary. Today, I would do it in a heartbeat if for no other reason than nostalgia!

    • Good Afternoon Heidi……Thank you for coming. I’m glad my blog caught your fancy. It sure stimulates your imagination. I don’t think I’d have been brave enough during the early 1800s. That must’ve been wild and wooly. But yeah, now it’s really something to see. A group in the area is trying desperately to preserve what’s left of it.

      Good luck in the drawing!

  7. Very interesting. Most of us have no idea how important those old Indian trails were in the development of migration trails all over the continent. Since the land east of the Mississippi was heavily forested, often the best way to travel was by rivers, which was common in the 1700’s-1800’s until the development of the railroad. The exceptions were the migration trails like the Natchez Trace, and the one that lead through the Cumberland Pass. The Handybook for Genealogists is a great source, including maps, for some of the old migration trails. But, I must admit, the Trammel Trace was new to me. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Robyn……I’m so glad you stopped by. Very interesting about the genealogists book you mentioned. I’ll have to try and find that. Those old migration trails really were important to the movement of people. I’m glad I could one more to your list.

      Good luck in the drawing!

    • Hi Anon1001……oh come on! You know you’d have wanted to travel it and fear for your life every step of the way. LOL! I’ve entered you in the drawing. Good luck!

  8. I just read this to my husband, he was born and raised in Wichita Falls. He said he never heard about this trail in his studies of Texas history. He would love to walk this trail if he ever got the chance.

    • Hi Paulette Wolf Reed……..Thank you so much for coming and for sharing this tidbit with your husband. I hope he gets a chance to walk what’s left of it. There’s a group in East Texas working to preserve what’s left of it.

      I’ve entered you in the drawing!

  9. No, I don’t think I would have been brave enough, but sometimes circumstances force us into being more courageous than we think we are capable of. Thanks for another historical lesson! 🙂

    • Hi Cheryl C……..I’m really glad to see you and glad you enjoyed my blog. You’re absolutely right. Often we do things we think we can’t until circumstances leave us no choice. Glad you liked the history lesson.

      Good luck in the drawing!

  10. Thank you for this interesting post. I do not know if I would have been brave or not. But I hope that I would have been. I would have liked to have been in the middle of things:).

    • Hi Mary B……….Thank you for coming. It’s great seeing you. I’m so glad you enjoyed my post and learned something in the bargain. I think you’re a brave soul to even consider walking it. With a group it might not have been so scary.

      Good luck in the drawing!

  11. I wouldn’t do it alone but I think if I was with my loved ones I would be willing to attempt it.

    • Hi Catslady……..I’m so glad you stopped by. Well, you’ve always heard the saying “There’s safety in numbers.” This is would definitely be the case here. I sure would’ve hated to be the lone traveler though. I think I’d have tried to go another way.

      Good luck in the drawing!

  12. I know I wouldn’t be brave enough to travel that road now but maybe back in my younger days I might have tried it. Great post, I really enjoyed it.

    • Thanks for coming over, Gail! Yes, we do brave things and take risks in our youth. I think it’s because we haven’t lived long enough to have gotten good sense. Ha! Good luck in the drawing!

  13. Very interesting post! I seriously doubt I’d be brave enough to travel this Trace… at least not alone.

    • Hi Glenda……I’m so glad you enjoyed learning about Trammel’s Trace. It’s a really neat piece of history. I’d have done it if I’d been with Davy Crockett or Jim Bowie. Otherwise, I really doubt it.

      I’ve entered you in the drawing!

  14. I think for many it was a case of necessity as much as bravery to travel this road. Necessity is often the stronger motivator. If I had to, I would have traveled any road to get where I needed to be. Bravery would certainly help one tackle the trip.
    Thanks for an interesting post.

    • Hi Patricia……Thanks for coming! I’m so glad you enjoyed the history lesson. I agree about needing a necessity factor to motivate in traveling this road. And it would’ve had to be awfully strong. I’ve entered you in the drawing!

    • Hi Gary! Thank you for coming over and for pointing out my error. I’m really sorry, but I didn’t know who to give credit to for the amazing pictures. Now that I know, I’ve rectified the mistake. I have so much admiration for you and the Cass County Rut Nuts for desperately trying to preserve this crucial piece of history. When we lose a historical place, structure or anything else we lose a piece of ourselves. And it’s something that can never be replaced. My hat is off to you!

      I’ve been fascinated with Trammel’s Trace for over 20 years when I researched and walked part of the trail for a book. I love East Texas anyway but seeing this was truly a great experience.

      I wish you lots of success! I live in the Texas Panhandle now but if I can help in any way, please let me know.

    • Hi Kim…..Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. This is such an interesting piece of history. But Texas is full of places like this. Good luck in the drawing!

  15. When I was a child my family traveled to TX. It was during the Polio Epidemic and there were so many places we were not allowed to
    go. I think nowdays if I could still travel I would love to walk that trail but if I lived in those days I would have stayed far, far away. I never did like to play cops and robbers.

  16. Hi Linda, Thanks for the blog info on this trail. No, I wouldn’t travel this alone only with a group & then you probably wouldn’t feel safe. The trees all standing so close together & narrow path would be an excellent place to attack, rob & kill whoever traveled that way.

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