Tyler, TX. You may ask why did we go to Tyler. What important event happened in Tyler? For the Westerfields is it the imprisonment of Gr Gr Grandpa Westerfield in Camp Ford, a Confederate Prisoner of War Camp located in Tyler. GG Grandpa was captured at Marks Mills, Arkansas. He was marched about 230 miles to Tyler, spent about one year there before being Exchanged. When Exchanged, he and about 300 other prisoners walked about 90 miles to the Red River landing then got on a boat to Shreveport. LA, From there he probably went up the Mississippi to Kansas. We found all this information at the Smith County Historical Society in Tyler.
We also spent quite a bit of time at the Camp Ford site. We walked along the paths with stops at the information signs about the Camp. When GG Grandpa was there, there were over 5,000 men in the POW camp that was no more than 11 acres. There was no shelter; the men had to build their own shelter with very limited tools. Sometimes it took weeks to borrow knives or axes to chop down a tree to build a hut.
Many of the shelters called Shebangs were just built into the side of a hill. We looked at some of the bigger trees and wondered if those were there when GG Grandpa was. Did he lean against one of these?
Originally, there were no walls around the original 5 acre Camp, but as more men were being brought to Camp Ford, walls 16 feet tall were built. Then after an influx of thousands more men some of the walls were cut in half and the camp enlarged to about 11 acres. There is an example of the two heights of the walls at the entrance to the Camp Ford State Historical Site. You can see the taller walls in the back and the shorter walls in the front.
Tyler is called the City of the Roses and has the second largest rose garden in the nation, the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden Center with over 38,000 rose bushes of at least 500 different varieties. It is also known for its Azaleas and has a beautiful Azalea tour drive that we took. Here are some of the beautiful roses and homes along our tour. Sorry we can’t include the incredible aroma of roses.
Of course I can’t omit a couple of tasty dishes we enjoyed while in Tyler. Our Camp Host suggested his favorite restaurant, Big Fish. We tried to Google it and Yelp it but could not find Big Fish. He told us how to get there and it was not very far from the RV park, 5 Star. We found it. It is called Jumbo Seafood! Close! The food was awesome: Shrimp Po-Boys, Rib eye and Shrimp and just Shrimp.
Today we rode the Texas State Rail Road from Rusk to Palestine about 30 miles one way. It was a very nice ride on a Steam driven train. We saw lots of different scenery from dense forests, swamps, and lily ponds.
One of the really cool things that we saw was a rainbow in the steam blown by the engine as it passed over a tall bridge.
We had a delicious box lunch in Palestine where they turned the engine around on a Wye before we headed back to Rusk. This was a special Easter Train and Snoopy was there handing out Easter eggs to the kids on the train.
There was also bubbles and sidewalk chalk at Palestine for the kids. I think it was to wear them out as we saw many sleepy little ones being carried out as they left the train.
More about Tyler next time. I apologize to Judy Bell, Travels with Emma, for this blatant steal, but I got this picture at the Rose Garden and just had to use it. The End.
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