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Places in America Inspired by Famous World Cities

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Athens, Texas

Since I recently returned from a trip to Athens, Texas I would like to start this Blog with that town. If you go I can highly recommend the restaurant at the Lake Athens Marina. The catfish was fantastic. Plan to arrive early enough in the day to visit the Texas Freshwater Fisheries center which is also located on lake Athens which is just about 4 miles east of the town.     Athens, Texas is a city of 12,710 located 70 miles southeast of Dallas on US 175. Texas Routes 31 and 19 also bisect the city. It is the county seat of Henderson County and home to Trinity Valley Community College. Several Lakes and recreation areas are located nearby.   Athens was established and became the county seat of Henderson County in 1850. It was named Athens after Athens, Greece, because it was expected to become the cultural center of the state. Athens was a small village in its early years and had no improved roads or sidewalks. The Cotton Belt Railroad arrived in 1880, followed by the Texas and New Orleans in 1900. The city was incorporated in 1902. Cotton was the main agricultural crop until around 1930; however, during the depression it switched to livestock and vegetables. Industry arrived in the 1950’s, and Athens had a furniture plant and an electronics manufacturer. By the 1980’s many other small industries were added. [13]   Trinity Valley Community College was established in 1946 and was named for the nearby Trinity River. They have around 6,500 students with campuses in Athens, Palestine, Terrell and Kaufman, Texas. The school also offers a distance-learning program.   Athens has been called the “Black Eye Pea Capital of the World” and was the largest producer of them from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. It still holds an annual festival to celebrate them called “The Black Eye Pea Jamboree” every July. Even from Egyptian times the pea has been a symbol of good luck. Tradition has it that those who eat this inexpensive and modest food on New Years day will bring good fortune to themselves for the entire year. This is so prevalent in Texas that rumor has it you can lose your Texas citizenship if you don’t participate in this time honored ritual. [14]   According to local lore, Athens is also supposed to be where the hamburger sandwich got its first start. The story goes that it was invented by a man by the name of Fletcher Davis and that he introduced them to the world at the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair after first serving then in his downtown Diner in Athens. The “Uncle Fletch’s Burger and Bar-B-Q cook off festival is held every year in downtown Athens in June. [15]   The Athens Visitors center located on the downtown square at 124 N. Palestine can provide information on all the local area attractions. These include the Athens Scuba Park, offering underwater viability up to 70 feet; Henderson County Historical Museum; East Texas Arboretum & Botanical Society with a 100-acre arboretum featuring walking trails and the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. This complex offers more than 300,000 gallons of aquarium exhibits and includes nearly every species of freshwater fish seen in Texas. The center is located at 5550 Flat Creek Road (F.M. 2495) near Lake Athens. It is a must see if you are in the area. The nearby city of Palestine, offers the very popular Texas State Railroad, a 25-mile steam train excursion to the town of Rusk and back.   Lakes abound in the Athens area and include Cedar Creek Reservoir, Lake Athens, Lake Palestine, and Richland-Chambers Reservoir. Purtis Creek State Park is located near Cedar Creek Reservoir and also includes its own 335-acre lake.   United States District Court Judge, William Wayne Justice, was born in Athens, first practiced law there, and was city attorney for 8 years. President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the district court in 1968.   Notes:     13. <http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hea05>   14. <http://texaslesstraveled.com/blackeyedpea.htm>   15. <http://www.hamburgerhome.com>  

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