Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, many of us have been reflecting on the many blessings in our lives -- including freedom, family, faith, health, and home. Home for me is in the State of Texas and, like most Texans, I am very proud of my state. I have traveled across the United States as well as other countries, and have enjoyed the beauty and heritage they have to offer. Yet, there is just something about Texas -- about its history, its people, and its beauty that never ceases to touch my heart and soul.
Most Texans will tell you that everything is bigger (and often better) in Texas. But lest you question our bragging rights, allow me to provide some perspective. First of all, people often don't grasp the sheer size of this state and all it has to offer in terms of geography and climate. With 268,820 square miles, the State of Texas is larger than several countries, including France, Germany, Japan and all of the United Kingdom.
Were you to travel across the State of Texas, you would encounter large cities and quaint small towns -- all with a proud history and heritage. But Texas also offers a spectacular, diverse landscape -- from the rugged plains and water-carved caverns of the Panhandle in the north (pictured below), to the more than 625 miles of coastline along the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
To the east are the Piney Woods, thousands of acres of pine forests, as well as ash, elm, magnolia and cypress trees. Four national forests and five state forests are located in this region.
Go west and find the Big Bend Country (pictured below), including the Guadalupe Mountains and the arid Chihuahuan Desert filled with cacti, scrub brush and tumbling tumbleweeds.
There are the South Texas Plains with the tropical Rio Grande Valley, and the miles of the Prairies and Lakes region which begins at the northern border of the Red River, separates Texas and Oklahoma, then extends down to just east of San Antonio. Major cities like Dallas and Fort Worth are located in this region.
Last, but certainly not least, is the heart of Texas – the beautiful Hill Country where sparkling lakes and rivers, gently rolling hills, and breathtaking wildflowers bloom.
Take my word for it. Drive in any direction. There is no end to discovering some place with beauty, history, and legacy all its own.
Today, I’d like to share one such place in particular. SALADO
Long ago, Native Americans were drawn to a beautiful place with a flowing spring-fed creek believed to possess ‘special curative powers’. Spanish and Mexican travelers also became enchanted by the tranquility and beauty of the area. Known as Salado Creek, the oasis soon attracted pioneer settlers including Col. Sterling C. Robertson (pictured below) who not only built a home and plantation there, but donated land for a village and a college in 1859.
Incorporated as Salado in 1867, the village was situated on the Old Chisholm Trail and became a very important stop of the Overland Stage and Pony Express. In fact, The Stagecoach Inn still stands today.
Originally called The Shady Villa Hotel, the rustic stop opened in the 1860s and provided rest, food and safety for the Overland Stage, Express riders, as well as cavalry and cowboys driving cattle north on the Old Chisholm Trail. Among its prestigious guests were General Robert E. Lee and Texas patriot, Sam Houston.
Both the village and Salado College prospered, but eventually larger state funded and religious founded colleges proved too competitive for Salado College. Consequently, the college closed in 1885.
Yet, among the graduates of Salado College was none other than Miriam Amanda Wallace Ferguson (pictured left) who not only became the first female governor for the State of Texas, but served two terms as the 29th and 32nd governor.
Today, Salado still takes pride in its serene beauty, historical legacy and warm people. With over 60 shops and galleries, it has also become famous for its exceptional and unique artisans. Located in Central Texas, between Austin and Waco, it is truly a lovely place to visit for a day or perhaps a weekend getaway. And that’s why, as you read this, I will actually be visiting Salado with my family and embracing yet another wonderful place Texas has to offer.
For more information about Salado, visit: http://www.salado.com/index.cfm