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A great egret fans out its showy plumes at Ruby Lake. The 15-acre lake provides a home to more than 17 species of birds. (Photos by Nathan Lindstrom)

It all started with a story. British author James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, told of a nirvana tucked away in the Himalayan heights, mysteriously filled with promise of peace, harmony, and other unearthly ideals. He called it Shangri-La. The name and fantasy caught on, going viral from Hollywood to the White House. Ronald Colman and Jane Wyatt played characters seeking the promises of Shangri-La in Frank Capra’s 1937 movie Lost Horizon. President Franklin D. Roosevelt named the presidential retreat Shangri-La (since renamed Camp David). And in a far corner of the Southeast Texas coastal plain, philanthropist H.J. Lutcher Stark plowed some of his family fortune into creating a haven of flowers and forest he called Shangri-La, opening it to the public in 1946.

Published in TRAVEL
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