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Trammel's Trace

Jack L. Pirtle, rev. by Gary L. Pinkerton General Entry

Trammel’s Trace, an early road into Texas, ran from the Red River to Nacogdoches where it met the Camino Real de los Tejas (see OLD SAN ANTONIO ROAD). The trace had two points of origin—one at Pecan Point, Texas, and another at Fulton, Arkansas, where it connected with the Southwest Trail from Memphis. The trail began as a series of Caddo trails which were first used by Anglos in the early 1800s for illegally smuggling horses from the Red River prairies in Spanish Texas. Trammel’s Trace was the first road to Texas from the northern boundary with the United States and was used for migration from Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee before Texas became a republic.

Nicholas Trammell is credited with first using the 180-mile trail that today bears his name. Trammell, a Tennessean, was involved in stealing and racing horses, gambling operations, and taverns in both Texas and Arkansas. In 1824 Daniel Davis helped Trammell cut the trail for use by wagons for Pecan Point residents wanting to head toward Mexican Texas and Stephen F. Austin’s colony. Sam Houston and David Crockett rode down Trammel’s Trace on their way into Texas history and legend.

Spanish and Mexican maps as well as early original headright surveys document the route of Trammel’s Trace across seven East Texas counties. Trammel’s Trace from Pecan Point crossed the Sulphur River at a crossing later known as Stephenson's Ferry. The route from Fulton crossed the Sulphur River at shoals once used by the Moscoso expedition at a location later known as Epperson's Ferry. At the Sabine River, it crossed on a lignite coal shelf later served by Ramsdale’s Ferry at the present intersection of Rusk, Panola, and Harrison counties. Sections of the old road remain visible on private land and at one historical marker on a public road in Cass County.

R. L. Jones, "Folk Life in Early Texas: The Autobiography of Andrew Davis," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 43 (October 1939, January 1940). Annabel Pagan, "Trammel's Trace," Junior Historian, September 1956. Gary L. Pinkerton, Trammel’s Trace: The First Road to Texas from the North (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2016). Rex W. Strickland, Anglo-American Activities in Northeastern Texas, 1803–1845 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1937). Trammel’s Trace: The First Road to Texas from the North (http://www.trammelstrace.org/home), accessed December 11, 2016.

Time Periods:

  • Spanish Texas
  • Mexican Texas
  • Republic of Texas

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

Jack L. Pirtle, rev. by Gary L. Pinkerton, “Trammel's Trace,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 02, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/trammels-trace.

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