Trail meeting puts spotlight on Milam history

Last week I had the privilege of introducing Steven Gonzales the Executive Director of the National Trails Association. The occasion was to highlight the tour of the El Camino de los Tejas trail by Mr. Gonzales. The tour will take him from Louisiana to Laredo.

In Oct. 2004, President George Bush signed into law a new national historic trail, El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail. By creating this Trail, recognition was given to its importance in connecting Mexico and Louisiana. The Trail is not one single pathway but a series of Trails beginning in l691 with the upper trail, commonly called the l691 Trail.

As the result of the work of the National Park Service (NPS) in Milam County, six sites of high potential interest were identified. All but one of these sites has been visited by NPS personnel in preparation for the development of the management plan. Sites identified include Apache Pa ss, t he t hree Sa n Xavier Missions and Sugarloaf Mountain.

The trail is somewhat special to the local Milam Historical Commission. In 2005, the Commission sponsored the first symposium in Texas to tell about the newly created trail. Approx imately 300 persons attended.

Keynote speakers included Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Dr. Frank de la Teja, Dr. A rchie McD on a ld , A l Mc Gr aw, D r. Haskell Munroe, Honorable Corinne Lindy Boggs, Louisiana, and National Parks Service representatives Dr. Jere Krakow and John Conoboy.

Member s of t he C ommi ssion are to be commended on their efforts in getting the trail recognized. They should also be applauded for working with NPS in identifying significant historical sites along the trail. The identification of these sites could lead to increased tourism in the county.

Tourism ranks as one of the top industries that bring money into Texas. This is a good kind of industry in that the money stays and the tourists move on. Identification of the trail and its historical landmarks could be another resource that Milam County benefits from.

We are blessed in Milam County with many resources, including water, fertile farm and ranchlands, coal and other minerals to name a few. History is another resource that Milam County has in abundance.

Milam was one of the original 23 counties in Texas. Named in honor of Benjamin Rush Milam, it at one time comprised one sixth of the land area of Texas. The counties of Bell, Bosque, Burleson, Coryell, Erath, Falls, Hamilton, Hood, Jones, McLennan, Robertson, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, and Williamson were all originally part of the original Milam County. In addition, Brazos, Brow n, Burnet, Callahan, Comanche, Eastland, Haskell, Hill, Johnson, Lampasas, Lee, Limestone, Mills, Palo Pinto, Parker, Stonewall, Throckmorton, and Young counties also received land from Milam County.

If you are not familiar with Milam history, you should take time to learn more. One Commission member, Mary Ann Eanes, has compiled a publication entitled "Milam Count y Cour thouse and its People." Preserve Our Past Committee members and members of the Milam County Historical Commission edited the book.

The book costs $40 and you can purchase them at the Milam County Museum, the County Judge's Office. All proceeds from the book go to supporting the Historical Commission.

They will make a great Christmas gift!

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