El Camino Real Toledo Bend Lake Country

History of El Camino Real de los Tejas

El Camino Real runs through Toledo Bend Lake CountryFor Immediate Release Contact: Steven Gonzales
March 13, 2018 Phone: 512-850-9073
Email: steven@elcaminorealdelostejas.org
On April 16, 2018 from 10 AM until noon, El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association (ELCAT), Sabine County, and the National Park Service – National Trails Intermountain Region will host the dedication of the Lobanillo Swales and a 50th anniversary celebration of the National Trails System Act. The free event will feature remarks from elected officials and agency representatives from the NPS and Texas Historical Commission, hiking of the newly developed ¼ mile loop trail at the site, fundraising for ELCAT, and socializing with finger foods and refreshments.
2018 is the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The National Trails System is comprised of trails that have been deemed as nationally significant by the US Congress, and in the case of El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail, it is because it is the road that led to the founding of Texas! The dedication at Lobanillo is the kickoff celebration of the anniversary along El Camino Real.
The Lobanillo Swales are the largest concentration of physical remnants of the road that have been found anywhere in the United States. Composed of seven swales, measuring up to eighteen feet deep and twelve feet wide, archaeological surveys of the site have discovered over three centuries of artifacts, ranging from the Spanish Colonial period in the late 1700s to the American period in the early 1900s. Owned by ELCAT, the Lobanillo Swales are located in the pine forest of Sabine County, Texas.
ELCAT is a non-profit, 501 (C)(3) association that seeks to protect the historic integrity of the trail, to educate and engage the public about its significance, and to promote resource development, interpretation, and tourism along its path.
Added to the National Trails System by the U.S. Congress on October 18, 2004, El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail commemorates nationally significant historic routes extending from the United States – Mexico border at the Rio Grande to the eastern boundary of the Spanish province of Texas in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. The period of historic significance for the trail is 1680 – 1845.
Join us in this historic event, and make sure that the road that led to the founding of Texas is not forgotten!
Event Registration and Information: http://lobanillo.eventzilla.net
Additional Media: https://goo.gl/MCYjx1 and http://vimeo.com/elcaminorealdelostejas


The El Camino Real is one of the most ancient roads in American history. Also called "The King's Highway," and "San Antonio Trace," the road travels east to west from Natchitoches, Louisiana to Mexico City. Its path crosses directly through downtown Many in Sabine Parish, also traveling through Milam in Sabine County, San Augustine and Nacogdoches to Crockett, Texas. These communities make up the Caddo Region, one of four regions of the trail.

Designated as a National Historic Trail in 2004, El Camino Real de los Tejas (Hwy 6 in Louisiana and Hwy 21 in Texas) has its easternmost beginning in Natchitoches, Louisiana and runs from piney woods through rolling hills to the arid lands of Old Mexico.

The El Camino Real's roots may well go back more than a thousand years ago, to a time when hundreds and hundreds of buffalo created trails as they moved south of the Great Plains each fall, a number of them turning east at the Trinity River in Texas and following their ancient migration route into Louisiana, through what later became Toledo Bend Country, on to the Red River.

Native American travel
Native Americans of the Adai Indian Nation roamed the virgin forests of Sabine country, still centuries before the white man came, following the trails beaten out by the bisons' feet. Using the trails, the Adai Indians eventually established a sophisticated trade network from Texas to Louisiana.

Spanish Exploration
Spanish explorers are said to have traveled this same trail in the early sixteenth century, more than a half-century before the first English set foot in America and more than 75 years before the first English colony was established in the land that was to become the United States of America.

St. Denis and the French
The El Camino Real was likely first opened in the early part of the eighteenth century, at the hands of a gallant French explorer, Louis Juchereau St. Denis. In 1714, St. Denis established a French frontier outpost among the Natchitoches Indians, giving birth to the settlement of Natchitoches, just 30 miles east of present-day Many.

Shortly after coming to Natchitoches, St. Denis and his crew set out on horseback over the El Camino Real, which by this time had become a well-paved path. It has been said that the Indians probably directed St. Denis to the path.

St. Denis' mission through his travels was to open trade relations between the French frontier at Natchitoches and the Spanish frontier on the Rio Grande. This was a particularly ambitious aim considering the extreme hostility between the great empires of France and Spain. St. Denis' mission took him westward, traveling right through Sabine country and on into Tejas (the Spanish spelling of Texas), across the Rio Grand, and finally into Mexico.

The Spaniards and the French that marked the trail were followed by such men as Moses Austin and his son Stephen Fuller Austin (The Father of Texas), Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston and early missionaries of multiple faiths. An abundance of historic cities await the modern day traveler on the Crossroads stretch of El Camino Real.

Following the Louisiana Purchase, this land became neutral territory, or Land. The area had no law enforcement. It became home to many well-known outlaws.