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Monday, June 29, 2009

SALADO, TEXAS--A PERFECT DAY TRIP



At Meghan's urging, we headed to Salado, Texas for the perfect day-trip. This little town, once a stop on the Chisholm Trail and part of the Butterfield Stage Line, was historically a favorite camping place for the Tonkawa Indians. For someone like me, these facts bring enough romance to encourage a trip to see the town. Factor in the belief that Salado Creek had curative powers, and Salado becomes a must see.

Even Salado’s history is interesting. The early families settling Salado in the early 1850s were people of education and refinement who felt their town needed to provide opportunities for their children. By 1859, lands were donated for a town and a college. Unique was the feeling that equal education for males and females be assured. The college prospered for a while earning a reputation for the level of education it offered.

To keep the sense of refinement the citizens demanded, Salado also became a “total abstinence” town. Here’s a great local legend surrounding that designation.

Bell County in which Salado is located went “wet,” and within no time at all, a saloon keeper rode into town with his wagon filled with evil temptation. The town fathers pleaded, but to no avail. The saloon opened, and men—young and old—could not resist. Salado’s women were determined to find a way to bring their men back to the straight and narrow righteous path.

Six women who met weekly in a Mother's Prayer Meeting began sitting in shifts in front of the saloon. They sat during the entire time the saloon was open. Neither man nor boy ventured near, and within a short time, the saloon keeper re-loaded his wagon and high-tailed it out of town. He set up a saloon in a neighboring and more welcoming setting, and ironically named his new venture The Salado. Believe it or not, even today there are no bars in Salado. One must drink at a private club or in a hotel. So much for sin.
House

As we enter Salado today, we are greeted by banners proclaiming Salado: Artfully Yours, and it is evident that the town takes its appellation seriously. In the Visitor Center, Rob and I and buy a cd tour produced by the Historical Society. The tour gives us a wonderful opportunity to learn of the town's history as well as to see some of the preserved buildings and landmarks.

We begin along Main Street which has a multitude of interesting shops featuring everything from antiques to contemporary western gear, artists' galleries, and historic building converted to offices museums, inns and B&Bs. The town is charming, but as the tour winds into the areas beyond Main St., an even more charming world opens before us.

Many of Salado’s early settlers built homes in the Greek Revival style, and they still exist. Many have been converted to B&Bs, and visitors surely can find a beautiful place to stay. Other homes, though private residences, have been beautifully maintained, and while visitors cannot enter, the homes and their histories are included on the tour.

One of the most picturesque homes is the 1860 home of Rev. G.W Baines, the great-grandfather of Pres. Lyndon Baines Johnson. As I stood on the opposite side of the street to take photos, a car came to a stop so I could finish, and the driver smiled and waved as she then made her way past. This is Texas friendliness, and please don't be skeptical—it happened on another day outside the Fall Creek Winery.

A site that really tweaked my imagination was the Silver Spur Theater. It operates on Friday and Saturday nights, and it advertises shows, music, and vaudeville for private and public events. Featured this season are Steel Magnolias, If You Build It, They Will Laugh (A Vaudevillian look at building things, featuring our trademark blend of live variety acts and classic cinema), and Boom Town or The Sinister Slickster's Fuelish Frame-up. I'd love to be able to come back to see the latter two. It’s a grand building from the outside.

I am an avid believer in Small Town America. I live in one, and I love to visit other towns that exemplify my personal definitions. I loved spending time in Salado and experiencing its valuable culture. The citizens work hard to preserve it. They’ve created ways to share with visitors and make a living doing it. I admire their ingenuity in keeping their world in tact. They offer a full calendar of events. In October, for instance, they celebrate Founder's Day with a cattle drive down Main Street, re-enactments along Salado Creek, Ranch Rodeo, Sunday Picnic Box Lunches, and a host of other happenings. I'd love to visit then, but that is not to be. [ fishing for minnows in the Salado Creek]
I learned after we returned home that Salado was also the site of Jenna Bush's wedding. Here is an excerpt from Laura Bush's thank you letter to the citizens of Salado:

“We send our special thanks for the flags along the main street and to the inns and hotels where the guests stayed. Jenna and her bridesmaids enjoyed their luncheon at the Inn on the Creek, and the Range Restaurant catered a delicious rehearsal dinner at Old Salado Springs Celebration Center. And after the rehearsal dinner the Silver Spur Theater was the perfect setting for our Texas dance party. All the guests loved the wedding day barbecue from Johnny's Steak and Barbeque.” Take your sweet time in Salado; it will be time well spentArt.<Cars/div>




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