After 30 years of shaping the pages of this magazine with his signature creativity, Photo Editor J. Griffis Smith retired from Texas Highways this summer.
You probably learned in school that six flags have flown over Texas: French, Spanish, Mexican, Lone Star, Confederate, and United States. But when it comes to Nacogdoches, an East Texas city named for a band of the Caddo tribe that settled here around A.D. 1250, you can add three more, which flew in the 1800s as part of short-lived rebellions.
When out-of-town guests visit me in Tyler, and their mouths water for barbecue, my choice, hands down, is Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q. The half-century-old eatery has grown into one of the Rose City’s hottest go-to dining destinations. The joint dishes up a tasteful blend of smoked meats, old-fashioned tradition, and live roots music—plus a slogan I can feel good about: “Be Kind. Have Fun.”
Senior Editor Lori Moffatt recently chatted about briskets, patience, and the importance of fat with Tyler restaurateur Nick Pencis, who revitalized a much-loved Tyler barbecue joint, Stanley’s. Stanley’s dates to 1959, but Nick and his wife, Jen, have modernized the menu and introduced the restaurant to a new generation of barbecue-lovers, all while keeping the longtime clientele happy—no easy feat.
Every Texan should experience the primordial mystery of Caddo Lake State Park. With its ghostly, century-old cypress trees draped with gray-green Spanish moss, cozy cabins built in the 1930s, and a history that encompasses pearl hunting and steamboating, a Caddo getaway works efficiently to re-set your perspective. Stay at the park, or find lodging and dining in the nearby towns of Uncertain, Marshall, and Jefferson.
After running across a brief story on a new rail-trail in northeast Texas, I had to investigate. The 130-mile trail—open to cyclists, runners, walkers, and even equestrians—extends from Farmersville in eastern Collin County to New Boston just west of Texarkana. It travels through seven counties and 19 rural towns. Some sections are paved, some are gravel, and some are the original rough railroad bed. As someone who has written a Texas hiking guide and taken photographs all over the state, I wondered why I’d never heard of it.
The world’s problems are solved daily at Prospero’s Books in Marshall. At least that’s what Damon Falke tells me one morning as I peruse the new and used volumes on a recent visit to this appealing literary refuge tucked into a bright storefront in Marshall’s historic downtown. Falke, a poet, writ-er, and son of Prospero’s owner, Don Falke, helps run things. Besides offering the only bookstore in town, Prospero’s serves as a salon where regulars debate global issues. “Our bookstore, in its own small way, is a place for discussion and collegiality,” Falke says.
The East Texas sunrise casts a hazy red-orange hue in our rearview mirror as my husband, Keith, and I drive west along a foggy Texas 103 out of Lufkin. As the car pierces the thick morning mist, rolling pastures dotted with live oak and hickory trees give way to gigantic longleaf pines. The highway merges with Texas 7, and we near Davy Crockett National Forest. Around another bend, the object of our destination is upon us: the Neches River. Two hundred years earlier, we’d be plunging headlong into the drink, but the highway bridge safely handles our crossing.