Parker County Today August 2017 - Page 61

our view: GLAMPING COLUMN Come Glamp With Me - The Best Is Yet To Come Finding History and Mystery At Jefferson/Caddo Lake the Mississippi delta, and on our last BY MARK BROWN PHOTOS BY TOM HADLEY, PATHFINDER PHOTOGRAPHY F rom Parker County, we’ve found that we can travel a scant 200 miles in almost any direction and discover something fascinating, no matter which direction we go. One of the best is less than four hours east. It’s Caddo Lake, and the neighboring hamlet of Jefferson that rests on the banks of Little Cypress Creek. The oddly historic city was at one time a thriving shipping point, used mostly to ship cotton from Texas to New Orleans. Jefferson’s history is a big part of the draw of the tiny Texas town. It looks and feels a bit like a miniature New Orleans. Historical buildings are scattered all across the town, stories of the halcyon days when cotton came up and down the river from visit, we managed to catch a play depicting the murder of “Diamond Bessie” Moore and the national scandal, and subsequent trial, of her accused murderer. But spending time among the cypress trees and Spanish moss at mysterious Caddo Lake in itself is worth the trip. It’s been the setting for scores of movies. There are about 25 bed and breakfasts in historic Jefferson, along with three locally owned and oper- ated hotels and a chain motel, but reservations are still recommended. Oldest among them, the historic Excelsior Hotel, has been greeting weary travelers since before the Civil War. Among the rich and famous who have stayed here are former presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes, former first lady Lady Bird Johnson and writer Oscar Wilde. One story, unsubstantiated by the hotel, says Stephen Spielberg, scout- ing film locations at Caddo Lake, was visited by a spirit in the night, which caused him to gather his contingent and hastily leave the hotel in the middle of the night. But it’s not ALL about ghosts. Besides the well-appointed inte- rior and immaculately manicured grounds, the hotel boasts its famous orange blossom muffins daily at breakfast. Slightly more than a block over is the Jefferson Hotel. Formerly a ware- house used by shippers on the Big Cypress River, the hotel is famous for its regular other-worldly visits. The sounds of children laughing, when none are around; fingerprints appear- ing on just-cleaned window panes; other “bump-in-the-night” reports keep visitors flocking to the hotel. “The busiest ghost rooms are rooms 14, 15 and 19,” said a former hotel employee. “For some reason, ghost hunters say room 19 is a portal to the other side.” Ghosts aside, the hotel is cozy, comfortable and, for a tourist destina- tion, relatively inexpensive. A hint for travelers, get a room as far from the stairs as possible. It’s an old wooden building and each trip up or down the stairs is loudly announced by creaks of old lumber. (Or is it ghosts?) If historic investigation and a Sponsored By 59