For thousands of years, the land we call Texas today was home to Native American Indians. A gigantic field of tall grasses, the Tejas prairie offered no apparent riches, but Spain was intent on claiming this vast land to deter the French from colonizing here.
El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail
A vital artery across this land was established as missionaries and soldiers traveled these time-worn routes and built missions and presidios (military posts) throughout the area. Thus this royal road, camino real, was established. In actuality, several routes were traveled, but all led from Mexico City, then in Spanish control, through southwest Texas, to northern Louisiana to what was then the capital city, Los Adaes.
In 2004, El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail was added to the National Trails System. It covers roughly 2,600 miles along several routes.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park – “Texas White House”
When Lyndon Baines Johnson died in 1973, the Reverend Billy Graham, in his eulogy, commented that one needed to know and understand the land he came from to know and understand LBJ. It was clear when we visited and toured LBJ’s ranch house outside of Stockton, Texas, that much of what shaped this man, who was our country’s 36th president (1963-1969), was learned right here. The LBJ National Historical Park honors this president and preserves the home and significant family properties he loved.
As President, LBJ was not without controversy; while he did so much work on the social issues, including enacting significant legislation impacting civil rights, voting rights, and education, LBJ’s lack of strong foreign policy, particularly in Vietnam, stains his legacy. But on the bright side, and of particular interest to us as we journey around our nation’s national parks, we were astounded to learn that President Johnson signed into existence nearly 50 units of the National Park System – thank you, LBJ!
Former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, too, had a significant impact on our country, and her legacy is remembered and honored here on a smaller scale, as well. “Beautification,” as her initiative was known, focused the nation’s attention on the importance of city parks, clean air, and clean water. The Highway Beautification Act was informally known as Lady Bird’s Bill. “Where flowers bloom, so does hope,” she would say.
When we toured the ranch house that the Johnsons shared and loved, Lady Bird’s room was preserved just as it was when she died in 2007 at age 94. Two crewelwork pillows on her bed touched me: “I slept and dreamed that life was beauty,” said one; and the other, ” I woke and found that life was duty.” Oh but were we all to make the world better as Lady Bird Johnson did!