From Moffett to Texas Corner

In four easy steps

The place of my birth, Fort Smith, Arkansas, is rife with legendary facts, rumors, innuendos, and suspicions. It sits on the Arkansas-Oklahoma borders. The Arkansas River separates the two states at the west end of Garrison Avenue. Similar thoroughfares in most other communities are called Main Street.


Moffett OK City Hall

The trip starts in the Moffett “business district,” at the Moffett City Hall. The hall is not unlike thousands of other small town seats of government. The business district is about three blocks long. Or so.

Just across the river is tiny Moffett, Oklahoma. Claims to fame are limited there. It has a very popular stockyard and enjoyed infamy as an “entertainment center” for troops stationed at Camp Chaffee during World War II and the Korean War. So many soldiers were maimed and killed in the town that the entire municipality of Moffett was placed off-limits to military personnel. (Camp Chaffee was later changed to Fort Chaffee and was later de-commissioned as a U.S. Army installation).

engine 3985

Click on the train for the full story and picture

While I was in Fort Smith, I recalled a time when my father ordered baby chicks which were delivered to the Frisco Railroad Depot in Fort Smith. I wrote a story which touched on that. See it on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. You will also find a picture there of the Union Pacific restored engine 3985 under full head of steam.

Store in Moffett Arkansas

Next door to the Moffett city hall is the small town version of a large-scale variety store. Some of the merchandise would probably require a winch-truck for delivery. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and the proprietor was on the scene ready for business. No tellin’ what’s in the inventory.

Garrison Avenue

Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith AR from bridge

When you leave Moffett and pull on to US 64, you will eventually top the Arkansas River bridge and look straight down Garrison Avenue, one of the widest “Main” streets you will see anywhere. It is second only to Canal Street in New Orleans by a few feet as the widest “Main Street” in the Nation. Asphalt covers the original bricks which covered the original dirt.

Texas Corner

Texas Corner is the junction of Garrison and Towson Avenues (Towson is pronounced “ow,” (as in a sharp pain), not “oh” (as in a surprise). It is said that enterprising businessmen during the 1800s put a sign up at the corner with the word “Texas” and an arrow pointing south. Literacy was more of a challenge then than it is now (if that is possible) and many settlers passing through to Texas, though challenged as readers, were savvy enough to recognize the word “Texas.” Legend has it that when these settlers asked locals if they had arrived in Texas, the answer was yes. Thus the legend of “Texas Corner.”

Immaculate Conception Church at the head of Garrison Avenue

Immacuiate Conception Catholic Church stands guard over Garrison Avenue as it has since the late 1800s. The highway signs to the right mark Texas Corner. The hospital sign points to the institution where I first drew breath.

Fact vs: fiction

Probably more factual is Texas Corner’s connection to “Texas Road,” which started in Fort Smith and led through Indian Territory (now known as Oklahoma), eventually to Texas. My friend John Paul Buie’s father operated a barber shop at Texas Corner and John Paul tells me the “Texas Road” connection is what his dad told him, so I am accepting that version. I am relegating the sign version to the rumors and innuendos categories, perpetuated for entertainment purpose. The video below supports the “Texas Road” theory.

Larger pictures

I have posted larger versions these pictures in a gallery along with this story. If you care so see ’em, click here: From Moffett to Texas Corner gallery.

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

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