‘Real’-ity urged for trail trade days
An enthusiastic crowd of about 40 county leaders, meeting Friday at Apache Pass, decided to pursue a county-wide trade days activity based on Milam County’s unique position on the El Camino Real (ECR) National Historic Trail.
Kit Worley, owner of the Apache Pass complex, a key hub of the Louisiana-to- Mexico trail now being developed, called the meeting to gauge interest in the idea.
There was plenty. Before adjourning, the crowd of county and municipal leaders elected a steering committee initially composed of three Chamber of Commerce officials, Deedra Jacob (Rockdale), Brian Morton (Thorndale) and P. J. Jennings (Cameron).
Worley and Steven Gonzales, ECR trail executive director, were also named to the steering committee.
Anyone interested in serving may contract one of the three Chamber officials. The first trade days could be held as soon as this fall, if there is enough interest.
And there’s one already connected with the El Camino Real historic trail. Sale on the Trail was held May 4-5, stretching from Crockett, Texas, to Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Numerous yard sales, flea markets, festivals, trade shows and sidewalk sales, and more, were set up along a 175-mile stretch of Texas 21 and Louisiana 6.
Gonzales was enthusiastic over the idea. “It’s something you can do for very little cost,” he said, noting that a trade day event would reinforce the idea of “heritage tour- ism” which is expected to be the driving force behind expected economic benefits for the area.
SIGNS, NAME—Milam County will be the first county to erect signs designating roads as part of the ECR trail, one of only 19 national historic trails in the United States.
Gonzales showed computergenerated maps which denote the trail in Milam County and said, if the trade days idea becomes reality, vendors might apply to become “ECR certified” and have markers placed on the on-line maps, denoting their enterprise.
“That gives us some control over what’s going to be out there,” Gonzales said.
One of the first tasks will be to select a name. Worley mentioned El Camino Real Trade Days or El Camino Real Trade Route as possibilities.
HISTORY—Designated as a National Historic Trail in 2004, El Camino Real de los Tejas has existed more than 300 years.
El Camino Real has its easternmost beginning in Natchitoches, Louisiana and runs from Piney Woods through rolling hills to the arid lands of Mexico.
Several trails diverge and converge in Milam County. Gonzales told the crowd Friday that Apache Pass is a central facet of the historic trail.
“It is the original crossing of the San Gabriel River,” he said.
“Milam County has a lot of things the other counties along the trail don’t have. When you’re following the trail through a city, it sure doesn’t feel like this is the way it was a couple of hundred years ago. But here (Apache Pass) you’ve got that historic feel, you’ve got the sites of the old (18th Century Spanish) missions and you’ve got a lot of natural beauty,” Gonzales said.
“This is a place I believe people are going to want to come and see and this (trade days) will certainly fit right in,” he said.