From my driveway to “X-marks-the-spot” in East Texas is roughly a five hour drive. It takes me seven hours or more because there is plenty to see along US 69. It is a lovely scenic drive once in the Piney Woods region, otherwise a pleasant stretch of open countryside with cows and horses grazing in the fields pass by. There are plenty of historical markers on the way and if you stop at all of them and read them the drive may take an additional hour or two. It all depends if you meet others along the way with similar interest in the Lone Star State’s story.
I’ve driven this route for the past 12 years and I must add I never tire of it. That’s because each time I take a trip there, I look for something new to visit. East Texas offers a rich historical heritage that swings way back to the early years of Civil War. I’m not going to write the history of Texas here right now. Or ever. But I will share one little treasure I found while seeking “ghost towns” on the internet last month for my week long excursion to visit family.
North Cherokee County has a tucked away and pretty much abandoned rural townsite known as Larissa. The town is about 20 miles northwest of Rusk. If you search for information on anything north, west, south, etc of Rusk, you will be delighted to find plenty to explore but you must gather information for there are no large billboards or adverts welcoming tourists to these areas. These are the back roads of the back roads.
Larissa is known for the Killough Massacre that occurred October 5, 1838 and documented as “believed to have been both the largest and last Native American attack on white settlers in East Texas”. The purpose of this blog entry is to share with you my journey and my picture(s) and not to go on about the history. You can look that up yourself. I will tell you how to get there for it’s not shown on many maps and did not pop up on any of my GPS maps.
This was shot with an IR converted Nikon D70 in case you are wondering why the trees and grass are white. The effect gives a more eerie feel. The site is located far back in the woods and appears to be well maintained although it is apparent that over the years some vandalism and partying have taken place as evidenced by a condom package and a few flattened beer cans scattered across the empty parking lot.
A chain link fence surrounds the memorial and a maintained road and parking lot lie to the north. And the entrance is shown in the photo below. The site is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. I spent about half an hour there reading all the markers and enjoying the cool air of the February Monday. Nothing could be heard but the breeze soughed through the tall pines with a cawing of a hawk overhead. For a moment I had forgotten the rest of the world, the daily routine, who was where and why. I sat on a large rock and looked over my shoulder toward the dense forest of brush and pine imaging the life of the settlers in the 1800’s starting anew, building from scratch as they migrated West. My phone rang. I had to get to Lufkin in time for supper.
How do you get to this monument? Follow me. North of Jacksonville on State Highway 69, hop onto the 855 in Mt. Selman. Drive West. Turn left on FM 3405. I saw no sign about the Killough Massacre but another blogger wrote there was one there. Once on the 3405, drive a short distance and look for the 3411. The sign is clear. Turn right. Keep going until you reach a split. This will be the 3411 and the 3409. Stay on the 3411 veering to the left. You are going to drive a bit and begin to feel like you have driven too far. Keep driving. The road is going to curve to the right a bit and then to the left and you’ll pass some farms. It all looks the same in the woods doesn’t it? Keep your eyes open on the left for the gate. It’s CR 3431 with a sign for the Killough Massacre site. Enjoy your visit.