Today Marks 69 Years Since The Opening Of The Lone Star Trail
I’ve been researching the trail (off and on) since 2003 when I stumbled across a mysterious metal marker in Austin’s Emma Long Park.
Trail? There wasn’t a trail there as far as I could tell. I had no idea how old the marker was. The marker was just nailed to a tree, way back in the woods. The ground around it was undisturbed, maybe for a decade according to my first underestimate. Yes, this plaque turned out to be older than I imagined.
Back then, I took a picture and moved on. I was hunting something else, a geocache that promised to be somewhere nearby. I set the mystery aside for a while. I posted a photo of the marker with a question about its unknown (to me) history to the internet in 2005. I got the break I needed in 2012 when someone finally associated it with the old Camp Tom Wooten.
Just a quick note: The trail is not to be confused the Lone Star Hiking Trail that winds through the Sam Houston National Forest. This trail is older, and was opened April 23rd, 1950.
Camp Tom Wooten was the big Boy Scout camp near Austin, operating from about 1937-1972. It was out where The Courtyard neighborhood is near the Pennybacker bridge. Eventually, I found Frank Hilton’s Lone Star Trail website, and the hand drawn map shown above. Wow, a real treasure map! Frank’s site is loaded with information. I greatly appreciate his efforts to keep and distribute the history. Since then, I’ve been looking into where the trail went. From the map, I found out that trail winds through the area where we live in Steiner Ranch, and through City Park / Emma Long Park where I found the marker. I’d already been to many of the places it passes through.
Recently, I’ve been using old City of Austin aerial photographs as overlays in the free Google Earth Pro desktop program to find the latitude and longitude of various places and trails I can see in those aerials. When I take the old overlays off, I can see the locations on a modern satellite image. Most of the trail is invisible from the air in 2019. I can see quite a bit in the 1966 aerials. There were less trees then. To date, I have not yet found any of these concrete milestone markers beyond the one for the start that has been moved to the museum (see below). I suspect they were all gathered up when the trail closed.
I’ve also contributed some to Frank’s web page. Namely the modern map (still incomplete) at the bottom of the page and the photo of the aluminum marker.
The trail started at Camp Tom Wooten (now closed and re-developed) and Frank’s website has some pictures of some spots along the trail. I have actually visited the cave shown in those pictures while geocaching.
During my research, I found that there was an exhibit for the trail at the Frank Fickett Scout Training and Service Center, and a bigger exhibit in the left half of the log cabin (below) at Lost Pines Scout Reservation near Bastrop.
In 2018, I retrieved the metal trail marker I’d located and turned it over to the museum. By then, it had fallen neatly from the tree and was ready to go.
I’m now using a much more powerful mapping program called ArcGIS Desktop, and am learning that to finish up a nice printable map.
Starr, Te (2012). Making a Difference Every Day – 100 Years of Central Texas Scouting – The History of the Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America 1912-2012. Austin, Texas: Capitol Area Council