During the Spanish colonial period in North America, royal roads radiated outward from Mexico City. The Camino Real de los Tejas, a 2,500 mile route, went northeasterly all the way to the Red River Valley in Louisiana. It had several branches. Many who traveled it went through San Antonio on their way to the Camino’s end in Natchitoches. They also went through Nacogdoches.
Natchitoches & Nacogdoches were twin brothers. Their father was a Caddo Indian chief. He ordered Natchitoches to travel toward the rising sun for 3 days as soon as the chief died and start a new home. Nacogdoches, who had yellow hair and blue eyes and looked nothing like his brother, was told to go toward the setting sun and do the same. This is a legend concocted in 1939. It’s a rather compelling but untrue story to explain the connection between 2 cities 111 miles apart with somewhat similar names. Both towns are fine travel destinations.
Tejas can mean roof tiles or something braided. Native Americans in East Texas probably coined the word, and Spanish explorers heard them use it and thought it had something to do with where they lived. That’s why some say that the word Tejas evolved into the word Texas. There are several interpretations of El Camino Real de los Tejas too. I favor “The Royal Road of the Indians”. So does the National Historic Trail Association. I took a long time to become proficient at pronouncing both town names.
Nay cog doe chess is the oldest town in Texas. A Spanish mission was where Nacogdoches now is by 1716, making 2016 the city’s 300th birthday. However, a real settlement didn’t develop until 1779 when Antonio Gil Y’Barbo, the Spanish lieutenant governor, built a home there. On that site today is the Stone Fort Museum, a must-see attraction. Its director gave Ruth and me a tour of its new but temporary exhibit, which was excellent. Carle has made the Stone Fort Museum (SFM) a 5 Compass attraction. I know because I saw it the first time I was in town. SFM’s on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University, which appears to be the most thriving enterprise in Nacogdoches. I didn’t see the medical center, however. This university currently educates 13,000 and offers a Phd in forestry. It’s other specialties are nursing and fine arts.
Also on any traveler’s must-see list should be the Durst-Taylor House, which opened as an attraction in 2006. Nacogdoches entire downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places and fun to wander around in. However, I wish I had skipped the creepy Old Time String Shop & General Mercantile.
I’ll tell you about some worthwhile but less than stellar attractions like the old university building, where the Marx Brothers comedy act began, tomorrow.