Western Trips

Western Trips

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Salado Texas

salado texas
Salado Texas Shopping
Located directly Interstate 35 in central Texas, Salado may very well be the best little art town in the entire state. Salado Texas is located north of Austin and south of Waco and Interstate 35 is probably the heaviest traveled highway in the state. Salado's Main Street and vicinity is filled by over sixty unique shops and artists galleries. Inn fact, Salado has one of the most unique art galleries in Texas. If you're into antiques, fine art, pottery and southwest collectibles and more, then Salado Texas should be on your Texas vacation planner. Salado is a blend of history and Texas folk art and is one of the best Texas day trips you might make. If you're traveling along Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Dallas it's definitely a great side trip.

Together with the very unique shopping in Salado are several excellent hotels and bed and breakfast inns. Located right in the middle of Texas Wildflower country, you can enjoy carriage rides and leisurely walks and if there's a golfer in your group, Mill Creek Golf Club offers a championship course. Mill Creek features three nine-hole courses designed by world renowed architect Robert Trent Jones Jr.  The casual atmosphere of the facility, the beauty of the environment and the classic test of the golf course combine to provide one of the finest golf experiences in Texas at very affordable rates. I've played this course several times and it's a good one. Mill Creek also offers condo rentals which are very near the golf courses.

Main Street, Salado Texas
Salado Texas has been around a long time. It's right on the way south from Dallas towards the Texas Hill Country. Salado was first incorporated in 1867 for the sole purpose of building a bridge across the Salado Creek which runs though the center of town. You'll find many historic sites around Salado. The Stagecoach Inn is the oldest continuously run hotel in the state of Texas.

The George Washington Baines House in Salado is on the National Register of Historic Places. Baines was the great grandfather of former U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson. George Baines was a minister and founded several Baptist churches and newspapers in Texas. Baines was the third president of Baylor University and reportedly had baptized Sam Houston. George Washington Baines was certainly an active figure in early Texas.

White settlers first appeared in the area around 1834. In that year, a settlement where Salado is today, was right on the western fringes of the Texas frontier. In fact, settlers in that specific area were under Indian attack often. Nearby was Parker's Fort which was the site of a brutal Comanche attack killing and kidnapping the entire Parker family. This was the attack that years later produced the half breed Comanche leader and warrior Quanah Parker. Parker was also the last Comanche leader to surrender in the 1870's ending the decades long Comanche War. As years went by, the frontier line in Texas would have kept expanding westward as more people came and the army forts were established accordingly. Texas was a very volatile region in the mid 1800's.

salado texas shops
Store on Salado's Main Street
As Salado history goes, the town was right in the line of progress. The old Chisholm Trail ran right past the town going from south Texas past Salado and eventually to the rail heads in Kansas such as Abilene. At one time in the mid 1800's, the Overland Stage and Pony Express stop ran right through the town. Several popular figures overnighted in Salado Texas including Robert E. Lee, Sam Houston and General George Armstrong Custer. There are also tales that the legendary train and stagecoach robberl Sam Bass and the James brothers may have passed through town as well. When you visit Salado you'll see The Stagecoach Inn which was involved with the old stage line. The hotel was founded in 1861 as the Shady Villa. The Van Bibber family bought it in 1941, beginning the heritage of Salado's Stagecoach Inn and it's famous dining room. The dining room has an old-fashioned atmosphere with many wood details including homey shelves and cupboards. The Stagecoach Inn itself is a historic site where the wheels of progress, the stagecoach, made it's regular stop.

There are more than a dozen historic homes found in Salado. Today, many have been converted into restaurants, shops or B and B"s.The Baines House mentioned above is now a Salado B & B. The main house was the home of George Washington Baines. Another Salado B & B that I'm acquainted with is the Rose Mansion. The main house was constructed in 1870 by Major A.J. Rose and has four bedrooms. Three of them fireplaces. You'll also see Rose family memorabilia and a  great collection of antiques. This B and B was featured several times in Southern Living Magazine between 1996 and 1999.

salado texas art gallery
The historic Barton House
Another stop to make while touring Salado is The Central Texas Area Museum. This museum was established by a group of interested citizens of the Central Texas area and received its area charter from the State of Texas in 1958. The museum opened a year later. The Museum is housed at present in a beautiful old rock building more than 100 years old just a few hundred yards from the picturesque clear spring-fed Salado Creek. A major purpose of the museum is to tell the history and development of Central Texas. You'll be able to enjoy an excellent collection of Texas pioneer artifacts as well as a lot of research materials.

Salado is the perfect stop for a food or shopping break while traveling on Interstate 35. The Salado Historical Society also offers a driving tour of the village available on both CD and Cassette format. Their website is www.saladohistoricalsociety.org. Other nearby fun vacation or trip stoips are the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum in Waco Texas and the famous and historic Driskill Hotel in Austin.

(Photos from author's private collection)

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