A road known by another name

Editor’s Note: Check back The Dallas Morning News Archive.

“Call it a bison trail.

Call it an Indian War Trail, or a Military Road, or the Austin Road.

Or the Texas Trail, Preston White Rock Road, an immigrant trail, or the “Divide” Road.

Or call it the Cattle Trail, the Shawnee Trail, or the Kansas Trail.

Or just call it Preston Road.

Whatever its name, it is the oldest north-south road in north-central Texas.

Adelle Rogers Clark, Lebanon on the Preston (1959)

The cattle track

A busy road in Dallas, Preston Road (State Highway 289), runs from the intersection of Armstrong and Oak Lawn to the Texas-Oklahoma border, passing through a multitude of Collin County suburbs . The origin of the route, the Shawnee Trail, extended further north into Kansas and Missouri, acting as a major northbound cattle trail and a migratory artery. Preston Road led to the development of several post-Civil War settlements which were eventually absorbed by the cities of Dallas and Frisco.

Take a look at the beginnings of one of Texas’ oldest roads.

The predecessor of Preston Road

Hundreds of years ago, many Native American tribes and herds of buffalo trekked the Shawnee Trail, which stretched from Brownsville, Texas, to Shawneetown, a Shawnee village on the Texas side of the Red River. This trail branched off four paths along the Red River, leading to towns in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.

The morning news from Dallas reported in 1943: “The old Shawnee Trail, leading from south and central Texas to Kansas and Missouri, also came near Dallas and crossed Denison on the Red River. As the border moved west, the largest trails opened up west of Dallas and fed millions of Texas longhorns in the rangelands of Kansas, Missouri, and the United States. ‘Where is.

The manufacture of the road

In the 1830s, Colonel William G. Cooke surveyed central Texas to establish a military outpost route for the Republic of Texas. In 1843, a military road straddled the Shawnee Trail from Austin to the Coffee Trading Post on the Red River. The northern terminus of the Texan portion of the trail coincided with the community of Preston. This north-south route would go on to be known by many names, including Preston Road, Military Road, Texas Road, and Kansas Trail.

Some resources mention William Gilwater Preston, considered a commander of the Army of the Republic of Texas, as the namesake of Preston Road. However, the Texas State Historical Association and coverage in The news document doubts about its existence.

Trade and migration flourished on the route, and herdsmen brought Texas longhorns to the railroads and markets of the Midwest in the 1840s. A descendant of the early settlers of Frisco, Adelle Rogers Clark wrote in her book Lebanon on the Preston, “No one will ever be able to estimate the number of people who have traveled on Preston Road. Many wore moccasins; some were wearing boots … Some came from Europe, others from Canada and Mexico.

In 1872, the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad Bridge was erected over the Red River at Denison. The bridge, along with the fear of cattle fleas from the Midwestern states, led to reduced use of the trail.

While the trail has faded over time, its legacy lives on in folklore, particularly through tales of “ghost” pioneers who are said to have been sighted at night on Preston Road between the Spring Valley and Belt Line roads.

The missing descendants of Preston Road

Preston Road was responsible for the development of many settlements in North Texas, including Frankford, Renner, Cedar Springs, and Lebanon.



American Indians and later European settlers frequented Indian Springs, a tributary of White Rock Creek west of Preston Road. This running water source near the current Bent Tree Country Club quenches the thirst of weary travelers.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 714 dig for artifacts at the former Frankford Town site at 17405 Muirfield Drive, near the intersection of Dallas North Tollway and Frankford Road. Behind the scouts is the Church of Holy Communion and the Episcopal Church. (October 18, 2003)(GARY PAYNE / 192039)

In 1852, Captain WC McKamy purchased land in the Indian Springs area from the settlers of Peters Colony, and the community grew to about 80 people. In September 1873 McKamy sold five acres to White Rock Masonic Lodge to build a church. The townspeople were buried in Frankford Cemetery. The cemetery and the church are still standing.

Margaret McKamy, wife of Frankford settler Captain WC McKamy, was one of the first to be buried at Frankford Cemetery in Dallas (2003).
Margaret McKamy, wife of Frankford settler Captain WC McKamy, was one of the first to be buried at Frankford Cemetery in Dallas (2003).(VERNON BRYANT)


Cedar springs

Further south, Cedar Springs provided another source of water for Native Americans, cowboy ranchers, and northbound settlers. In early 1843, the sons of Dr. John Cole built a camp in what is now Turtle Creek Park, and in May of that year Cole purchased the surrounding land, turning it into a village. According to its historical marker, “the name of the community may have been taken from the abundance of cedars near the springs”.

In 1850, Cedar Springs came second behind Dallas in the race for the county seat. In the late 1800s, Cedar Springs was absorbed by Oak Lawn, which was annexed to the city of Dallas in the early 1900s.



North of State Highway 121 and west of Preston Road, the agricultural village of Lebanon developed in the mid-1800s as travelers stopped on Preston and scanned the Blackland prairie. In the 1890s, Lebanon was teeming with business, with a post office, a blacksmith’s shop, a pharmacy, a general store, doctors, a shoemaker, a barber, and a number of businesses related to agriculture.

Historical marker of Lebanon near the intersection of Gaylord and Preston Road in Frisco (2015).
Historical marker of Lebanon near the intersection of Gaylord and Preston Road in Frisco (2015).(Vernon Bryant / Staff Photographer)

In 1902, the city of Frisco emerged three miles from Lebanon, alongside the nascent St. Louis and San Francisco railroad, commonly known as Frisco. Slowly, residents of Lebanon moved to Frisco to facilitate transportation.

The Lebanese Baptist Church and the Crozier-Sickles House – two structures that were part of the Lebanese community – were moved from their original locations to the Frisco Heritage Center.

Baptist Church of Lebanon at the Frisco Heritage Center in Frisco (2015).
Baptist Church of Lebanon at the Frisco Heritage Center in Frisco (2015).(Vernon Bryant / Staff Photographer)

Want to learn more about local history? Become a Dallas Morning News subscribed to dallasnews.com/archives.

About Frank Torres

Check Also

Moon Knight Producer Reveals Weird Way Marvel Chose The Villain’s Name

Moon Knight executive producer and head writer Jeremy Slater explains the odd way they chose …