One thing is for sure. Not being able to explore the world this past year, I got to know my own neighborhood, so to speak.
My daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter live in the small East Texas community of Tatum. It’s a half-hour drive from my home in Henderson. Every time I travel along Route 43, I pass the sign for Martin Creek Lake State Park, but I had never stopped.
Early inhabitants included the Caddo American Indians who settled here around 13,000 years ago. They thrived for centuries in the area until the 17th century, when European explorers arrived. In the next century, the Spanish built six missions to convert Native Americans to Catholicism. Caddo, Cherokee, and Shawnee lived in the area until the late 19th century.
Daniel Martin settled here in 1833. Later, he and his neighbors built a small fort and the community of Harmony Hill along the Old Henderson-Shreveport Road.
Although the community thrived in the late 19th century, it was nearly deserted by the 20th century. Only one Civil War-era building remains today, as well as a cemetery.
In 1976, the Texas Utilities Generating Company deeded the 286-acre park to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The park opened the same year. The park sits on the shores of the 5,000-acre lake. The lake provides cooling water for the electricity generating plant.
Visiting the park
There is a lot to do at the park: camping, fishing, swimming, biking, and hiking. This winter day, I wander through the park listening to birds singing and the faint hum of the electricity generating plant that can be seen on the horizon.
I decide to take the Old Henderson Road Loop, which is just over a mile. It’s fun to look for traces of the old roads that brought prosperity to Harmony Hill. There are two other trails. Harmony Hill Loop is 1.5 miles. Crossing a bridge, visitors can also explore an island along a 1.2-mile trail.
I can imagine this park alive with wildflowers in spring and summer, the sound of children laughing as they play in the water and the excitement of an angler catching largemouth bass. I can also imagine the glorious fall color that is sure to frame the lake and hiking trails.
I will be back to explore the trails again and enjoy other activities.
If you go:
The park is located at 9515 County Road 2181D near Tatum. For more information, call (903) 836-4336.Tags: Texas