‘Historic’ day looks to past and future
By MIKE BROWN
Excited history buffs were looking back three centuries and ahead to the near future
Thursday at Apache Pass.
The El Camino Real National Historical Trail Association held its annual membership
meeting in a morning session at the Apache Pass restaurant. An afternoon of activities
at the historic riverside pass included re-enactments and Native American dancing and
Keynote speaker was Dr. Frank de la Teja, chairman of the history department at Texas
State University. Also speaking were Dr. Susan Boyle, historian with the National Park
Service, and Aaron Mahr, superintendent of National Trails for the National Park
Service’s Intermountain Region.
The trail, which extends from Mexico to Louisiana, is being developed as a historic
trail. Currently notable features along the trail are being identified.
The late archeologist Dr. Kathleen Gilmore, whose 1967 dig led to establishing the sites
of three 1720s-era Spanish missions along the trail, was honored with a tribute by Joy
Also participating were Dr. Lucile Estell and Adai Caddo Indian Nation Chief Rufus Davis
of Natchitoches, Louisiana.
A separate photo exhibit on the trail opened Thursday evening at the city library
Native Americans (the real thing)) and volunteers depicting 18th Century Catholic
missionaries and 19th Century Texas pioneers were on hand Thursday at Apache Pass.
From left, Ray “Running Hawk” Ochoa, Randy Billingsley, Gus Coelho, Don Simms
(representing Knights of Columbus Council 7014) and Joe “Two Feathers” Ochoa.
Historical re-enactments were featured.
Left, Aaron Mahr of the
National Park Service talked
about the ECR logo. Above.
keynote speaker was Dr.
Frank de la Teja of Texas
The late Dr. Kathleen Gilmore (R), who died earlier this year at age 95, was honored
during Thursday’s meeting, attended by (L-R) granddaughter Shannon Blatt and daughters
Judy Gilmore Lepthien and Pat Gilmore. Dr. Gilmore’s 1967 dig established the sites of
Milam County’s 18th Century Spanish missions.
Tours offered for photo exhibit at library
A photographic exhibit featuring sites along the recently established El Camino Real de
los Tejas National Historic Trail remains on exhibit in the city library.
Photographs in the exhibit are the work of Christopher Talbot, a professor at Stephen F.
Austin State University in Nacogdoches.
Dr. Lucile Estell, exhibit spokesperson, said photographs include swales, acequias,
river crossings, forts, presidios and other items of interest along the Trail.
The exhibit is self-guided and is open during regular library hours. Guided tours may
also be arranged by calling the library at 446-3410.
Dr. Estell said tours of the exhibit will be guided by several volunteers headed by
El Camino was designated as a historic trail by Congress in 2004 and extends from the
international border of the Rio Grande to the easternmost Natchitoches Parish,
“During the 1680s, when the Spanish began to travel regularly in Texas and Louisiana
they followed trails set by the Indians,” Dr. Estell said.
“They used the trails to reach areas where they had established missions and presidios.
The San Xavier Mission Complex near Apache Pass is one such site.”
“Eventually armies and immigrants followed these routes which led to Euro-American
settlements across the two states,” she added.
“Many of these roads became part of the modern highway system,” Dr. Estell said. “Many
roads and landscapes have retained Spanish names.”
Rockdale Reporter, November 25, 2010