Old Preston Road

By: Jean T. Hannaford

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: May 1, 1995

The Old Preston Road was originally part of a major Indian trail that extended from near the site of present St. Louis, Missouri, to southwestern Texas. Between 1840 and the coming of the railroad three decades later, the road was the principal immigrant route into northern Texas. It was completed in 1843 by soldiers under the command of Col. William Gordon Cooke, who had been in charge of surveying a route for the Military Road for the Republic of Texas. The road started near the community of Preston Bend in present Grayson County. Emigrants from the north crossed the Red River just below its confluence with the Washita River at a ford known as Rock Bluff Crossing. From there the route generally followed the divide between the East Fork and the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. The southern terminus was at the settlement of Cedar Springs, now a part of downtown Dallas. Texas cattlemen knew the road as part of the Shawnee Trail. By 1870 the main cattle trails were farther west, but the Preston Road was still the most important route for immigrant and freighter traffic in north central Texas. However, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad bridge across the Red River was built in 1872 at Denison, twelve miles downstream from Preston, and, with the major flow of traffic bypassing it both east and west, the road declined in importance. After little more than a year it had the same status as other local rural roads. Within the city limits of Dallas, State Highway 289 is routed along a boulevard called Preston Road. Between Dallas and the intersection with U.S. Highway 82 west of Sherman, the state highway closely parallels a section of the route of the original Old Preston Road.

Mattie D. Lucas and Mita H. Hall, A History of Grayson County (Sherman, Texas, 1936). J. Lee and Lillian J. Stambaugh, A History of Collin County (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1958).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jean T. Hannaford, “Old Preston Road,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 20, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/old-preston-road.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995