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Texas Lakes Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Decatur


Railroads reached Decatur in the 1880s, and before you knew it, a railway worker coined the crap shooter’s cant, "Eighter from Decatur," for the dice throw of a lucky eight. A decade earlier it was cattle drovers riding off the nearby Chisholm Trail, headed to town for a good time and fresh provisions. Before the Civil War it was folks headed to the California gold rush on stagecoaches of the Butterfield Overland Mail. Famous architect James Riley Gordon of San Antonio came in the 1890s to build the Romanesque Revival-style Wise County Courthouse which remains the historic heart of downtown. Decatur’s Texas Main Street City office and visitor center offers visitor information in a former post office that sports a WPA mural, “Texas Plains,” painted by Ray Strong in 1939. Overlooking downtown is cattle baron Dan Waggoner’s mansion, "The Castle,” which served as a model for the home in the movie Giant. Each fall Decatur honors its cowboy past during Chisholm Trail Days. While in town, visitors grab a bite at a 1920s tourist camp built of petrified wood. The rare tourist camp and café are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


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