Preston Trail

In 2009 the State of Texas designated State Highway 289 as the Preston Trail Highway to commemorate its historic significance as a major trail/road that supported the growth of Texas.

In 1840, authorized by an 1838 act of the Congress of the Republic of Texas, Col. W. G. Cooke and the Texas First Infantry Regiment laid out a military road from Austin north through what became Dallas to the Holland Coffee Trading Post on Red River (later covered by Lake Texoma). Coffee developed the town of Preston near the trading post, and Cooke’s military route became known as Preston Road between the Red River and Dallas. Immigrants came from Missouri and Arkansas through Indian Territory (Oklahoma) into Texas along Preston Road. In one six-week period in 1845, roughly 1,000 wagons crossed the river into Texas.

From the mid-1850s the road marked the route for Texas’ first cattle drive. Later known as the Shawnee Trail, it probably was named for a Native American village called Shawneetown north of what became Denison. Cattle swam the Red River at Rock Bluff Crossing, a natural rock formation that served as a chute into the water. This remained the principal route to the north for Texas cattle until the Civil War. The last large herds moved through the Pottsboro area in 1871.

The old route remains visible at Rocky Point on Lake Texoma, and along Hanna Drive. The overall passage is followed by parts of Preston Road and State Highway Route 289, near Pottsboro. Fort Johnson, north of Pottsboro, was established by William G. Cooke in 1840 as a part of the defense of the Military Road from Red River to Austin. Named in honor of C o l o n e l Francis W. Johnson (1799-1888). Commander of the Texas army at the capture of San Antonio, December 10, 1835. In 2009 the State of Texas designated State Highway 289 as the Preston Trail Highway to commemorate its historic significance as a major trail/road that supported the growth of Texas.

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