While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Jack L. Pirtle, rev. by Gary L. Pinkerton
Map of Trammel's Trace.
Map of Trammel's Trace. Courtesy Gary L. Pinkerton (www.trammelstrace.org).

TRAMMEL'S TRACE. Trammel’s Trace, an early road into Texas, ran from the Red River to Nacogdoches where it met the Camino Real de los Tejas (see OLD SAN ANTONIO ROAD). The trace had two points of origin—one at Pecan Point, Texas, and another at Fulton, Arkansas, where it connected with the Southwest Trail from Memphis. The trail began as a series of Caddo trails which were first used by Anglos in the early 1800s for illegally smuggling horses from the Red River prairies in Spanish Texas. Trammel’s Trace was the first road to Texas from the northern boundary with the United States and was used for migration from Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee before Texas became a republic.

Nicholas Trammell is credited with first using the 180-mile trail that today bears his name. Trammell, a Tennessean, was involved in stealing and racing horses, gambling operations, and taverns in both Texas and Arkansas. In 1824 Daniel Davis helped Trammell cut the trail for use by wagons for Pecan Point residents wanting to head toward Mexican Texas and Stephen F. Austin’s colony. Sam Houston and David Crockett rode down Trammel’s Trace on their way into Texas history and legend.

Trammel's Trace in Rusk County.
A remnant of Trammel's Trace just south of Hendricks Lake in Rusk County. Photograph by Gary L. Pinkerton (www.trammelstrace.org).

Spanish and Mexican maps as well as early original headright surveys document the route of Trammel’s Trace across seven East Texas counties. Trammel’s Trace from Pecan Point crossed the Sulphur River at a crossing later known as Stephenson's Ferry. The route from Fulton crossed the Sulphur River at shoals once used by the Moscoso expedition at a location later known as Epperson's Ferry. At the Sabine River, it crossed on a lignite coal shelf later served by Ramsdale’s Ferry at the present intersection of Rusk, Panola, and Harrison counties. Sections of the old road remain visible on private land and at one historical marker on a public road in Cass County.


R. L. Jones, "Folk Life in Early Texas: The Autobiography of Andrew Davis," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 43 (October 1939, January 1940). Annabel Pagan, "Trammel's Trace," Junior Historian, September 1956. Gary L. Pinkerton, Trammel’s Trace: The First Road to Texas from the North (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2016). Rex W. Strickland, Anglo-American Activities in Northeastern Texas, 1803–1845 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1937). Trammel’s Trace: The First Road to Texas from the North (http://www.trammelstrace.org/home), accessed December 11, 2016.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Jack L. Pirtle, rev. by Gary L. Pinkerton, "TRAMMEL'S TRACE," accessed August 05, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ext03.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on December 14, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...