Saturday, November 27, 2010


By: Ashley Kath-Bilsky

Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, many of us have been reflecting on the many blessings in our lives -- including freedom, family, faith, health, and home. Home for me is in the State of Texas and, like most Texans, I am very proud of my state. I have traveled across the United States as well as other countries, and have enjoyed the beauty and heritage they have to offer. Yet, there is just something about Texas -- about its history, its people, and its beauty that never ceases to touch my heart and soul.

Most Texans will tell you that everything is bigger (and often better) in Texas. But lest you question our bragging rights, allow me to provide some perspective. First of all, people often don't grasp the sheer size of this state and all it has to offer in terms of geography and climate. With 268,820 square miles, the State of Texas is larger than several countries, including France, Germany, Japan and all of the United Kingdom.

Were you to travel across the State of Texas, you would encounter large cities and quaint small towns -- all with a proud history and heritage. But Texas also offers a spectacular, diverse landscape -- from the rugged plains and water-carved caverns of the Panhandle in the north (pictured below), to the more than 625 miles of coastline along the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

To the east are the Piney Woods, thousands of acres of pine forests, as well as ash, elm, magnolia and cypress trees. Four national forests and five state forests are located in this region.

Go west and find the Big Bend Country (pictured below), including the Guadalupe Mountains and the arid Chihuahuan Desert filled with cacti, scrub brush and tumbling tumbleweeds.

There are the South Texas Plains with the tropical Rio Grande Valley, and the miles of the Prairies and Lakes region which begins at the northern border of the Red River, separates Texas and Oklahoma, then extends down to just east of San Antonio. Major cities like Dallas and Fort Worth are located in this region.

Last, but certainly not least, is the heart of Texas – the beautiful Hill Country where sparkling lakes and rivers, gently rolling hills, and breathtaking wildflowers bloom.

Take my word for it. Drive in any direction. There is no end to discovering some place with beauty, history, and legacy all its own.

Today, I’d like to share one such place in particular. SALADO

Long ago, Native Americans were drawn to a beautiful place with a flowing spring-fed creek believed to possess ‘special curative powers’. Spanish and Mexican travelers also became enchanted by the tranquility and beauty of the area. Known as Salado Creek, the oasis soon attracted pioneer settlers including Col. Sterling C. Robertson (pictured below) who not only built a home and plantation there, but donated land for a village and a college in 1859.

Incorporated as Salado in 1867, the village was situated on the Old Chisholm Trail and became a very important stop of the Overland Stage and Pony Express. In fact, The Stagecoach Inn still stands today.

Originally called The Shady Villa Hotel, the rustic stop opened in the 1860s and provided rest, food and safety for the Overland Stage, Express riders, as well as cavalry and cowboys driving cattle north on the Old Chisholm Trail. Among its prestigious guests were General Robert E. Lee and Texas patriot, Sam Houston.

Both the village and Salado College prospered, but eventually larger state funded and religious founded colleges proved too competitive for Salado College. Consequently, the college closed in 1885.

Yet, among the graduates of Salado College was none other than Miriam Amanda Wallace Ferguson (pictured left) who not only became the first female governor for the State of Texas, but served two terms as the 29th and 32nd governor.

Today, Salado still takes pride in its serene beauty, historical legacy and warm people. With over 60 shops and galleries, it has also become famous for its exceptional and unique artisans. Located in Central Texas, between Austin and Waco, it is truly a lovely place to visit for a day or perhaps a weekend getaway. And that’s why, as you read this, I will actually be visiting Salado with my family and embracing yet another wonderful place Texas has to offer.

For more information about Salado, visit:


  1. ASHLEY--waving "hi" from near Salado!! You did a masterful job with our state. I loved the photos and descriptions, and have visited and explored all corners of the state. I've lived in four areas of the state, but finally we settled in the Hill Country.
    I, too, am proud to be a Texan, and my ancestors go back to before Texas was a Republic.
    I love visiting Salado--now I want to return. Shopping in Salado's quaint shops somehow is more pleasurable than shopping in our gigantic outlet mall here!
    Thanks for the wonderful tour--Celia

  2. Ashley, I love the pictures in your post! My family and I have lived in Texas on two different occaisions (Dallas and Houston areas) but my favorite part of the state is San Antonio and the small towns that surround it. Texas Hill Country is truly a unique experience with a lot of history. Great blog!

  3. Ashley, we love Salado. We've dined at the Stagecoach Inn, but never stayed there overnight. That's on our bucket list, though. Loved your entire post. many people don't realize Dallas is closer to Chicago than to El Paso.

  4. What a great tribute to Texas, Ashley. I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Longview and was amazed at the beauty of the landscape. Most of the area looked like a park - and, up to that point, I had expected to see tumbleweeds. (I am ducking!) We loved seeing the sights and changed our view of what Texas is really like.

  5. Hi, Ashley,
    It's been years since I've traveled to Texas, but now I want to go back.

    I think my favorite area is the very southeastern corner, Cajun country, according to the rice growers that I interviewed.

  6. Ashley,
    One of these days I want to travel to the panhandle of Texas and see the beautiful red rocks and canyons. There's always something more to see and know about Texas. :-)

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed your written and photographic tour of Texas.
    Very enticing. There are many places I'd like to visit and your great State is part of my wish list of places to see.

  8. Thanks everyone for your kind comments. As stressful as it is to fly anywhere, I love to just get in the car (perhaps pack a picnic lunch) and tour Texas. Just to let you know we had a truly wonderful time in Salado -- lots of unique shops, great food, and the weather was perfect. Had lunch at a lovely restaurant called Adelea's on Main. Situated in a restored 1925 house and owned by two sisters, the hospitality and food cannot be beat. I had homemade soup and their "Jamin' Ham Panino" (Sliced ham, Gruyere cheese, raspberry chipotle jam and garlic Dijon mustard sauce on toasted sourdough bread). It was so yummy! In fact, I raved so much about it my three sons wanted a bite and vowed they would order it next time.

    Also, if you still need to get some holiday shopping done, the first weekend in December starts off Salado's "Christmas Stroll" where you can "enjoy the magic of Christmas with late night shopping, home tours, live nativity along with productions at Salado Silver Spur Theater and Tablerock Amphitheater." So, if you are looking for unique gifts and a friendly, historic setting to leisurely shop and really get into the Christmas spirit, visit Salado!

  9. Hi Ashley,
    Sorry to be late to the party! I love your post. I'm an Oklahoman, but before that, my ancestors came here by way of Texas. Both sides (mom and dad's) of our family came from Durant, just a few miles from the Red River, but before that they came up from Texas. One of my great great grandmothers came to Texas with a band of German immigrants--her name was Rita. That's all I know, and I'm dying to delve into the genealogy SOON. My great great grandfather was a cowboy on a couple of the cattle trails that ran up through TX and OK. Texas is just a beautiful state, and though I wasn't born there, I consider myself an Oklahoman, but a Texan "once removed."LOL Great post, and beautiful pictures!

  10. Thanks, Cheryl. I love doing geneaology research and I know alot of German immigrants in the 1800s arrived in Texas at Galveston. They actually sailed from Germany to New Orleans, then took another boat to Galveston. There are lots of records online about this at Best of luck with your research! :)


Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West!