By Saeed Qureshi
While searching through Texas Tourism Department’s website for finding the sight-seeing places around Dallas/Fort Worth, we came across a curious name: “Mount Vernon”. Although there were quite a few other scenic locations, yet we decided to visit this place. It is one of those unique towns that go back in the formative stages of the United States. The visit was extremely rewarding as can be fancied from the following narration.
This town situated along Highway I-30 East is about two hours drive from DFW. Perhaps most of the nature lovers are unaware of the picturesque surroundings and serene natural beauty of this historical city that preserves an invaluable natural and cultural heritage. At one glance it gives a look of the past transforming into the present that is inherent and integral to the changing times and societies.
Mount Vernon sparkles like a jewel with an array of the old buildings nicely preserved as the awesome architectural symbols of a tumultuous yet changing past. This city is also an amalgam of the modern roads and the dirt lanes within the city precincts.
The Mount Vernon Town is a treasure trough of the past relics, old private buildings, city hall, court house, Indian heritage trail, parks, churches, historical highways, lakes and virgin countryside aura. The city mirrors a magnificent history of this unique and captivating tourist resort. This town studded with the most alluring lakes, one of which the “Lake Cypress Springs”, is designated as the most beautiful lake in the state of Texas.
There is an amazing diversity of flora and fauna found in this land. The birds and the flowers that are found in this aromatic region have been largely preserved in the “Fire Station Museum” well-maintained by the Franklin County Historical Association.
There are several sites that are the legacy of a progressing past and are incredibly interesting for tourists. The Fire Station Museum is a spectacular place to see with utter amazement, some of the rare artifacts and huge collections of the butterflies, bird eggs, Indian primitive weapons crafted from stone and iron and the Don Meredith Sports Memobrillia. Don Meredith was a legendary football player from Mount Vernon.
This museum has the unique distinction among a total of 13 museums to exhibit 222 remarkably preserved bird eggs, three of which from Parakeet, heath hen and passenger pigeon are now extinct. Most of these precious things have been donated by the people who collected these rarities in albums in their life time.
The vice president of the Franklin County’s Historical Association, Jean Ann Marshall was very gracious to spare time despite weekend holiday, to take us around the city. She showed us various old buildings in the city. Over 60 homes built before World War I, are marked here with attractive signs, designating the original owners and the years of construction.
One such house is the “Thruston House”. She explained the historical background of this most wondrous building. She told us that the Thruston House was named after the tallest soldier in the confederate army, Col. Henry Clay Thruston who lived here until his death in 1911. He was 7 feet, 7 and ½ inches tall and used to lead the army with a banner in his hand.
The house was built in 1868 and has been renovated, although most part is still in the original form. The artifacts, the quilts, the beds, the money safe, the kitchen utensils, the shaving kits, the dresses, the weapons used during those times have been meticulously preserved in the house situated in the midst of a spacious park.
Ms. Marshall also informed us as to how the Fire Station Museum was established and how it gradually developed through various stages and was brought to its present shape. She told us that most of the artifacts, and the rare things kept in the museum were donated by the donors of this area.
The farm land far and wide around Mount Vernon has been enriching the economy with countless cotton farms, planting of half of a million peach trees, water-melons and cane syrup starting from 1920 to 1940. The oil was discovered here in 1936 that led to a diversified and robust economy in the region.
The mesmerizing “Lake Cypress Springs” impounded in 1970 on 3400 acres, is a marvel in its own right for its spellbinding beauty and compelling charm with which it thrills the visitors. The Lake’s coast is dotted by fancy huts where the tourists can stay for longer periods.
The beach that zigzags around the lake is furnished with benches and fireplaces for the tourists to come for BBQ picnics and enjoy the panoramic view while fishing at the same time. Another vast lake Bob Sandlin built in 1977 covers an astounding area of 9460 acres and backs up to the dams of Lake Cypress Springs and Lake Monticello.
Although one can see the entire city within an hour or so but at the end one feels as if he has gone through a rejuvenating and novel experience of life-time remembrance. This small town unfolds the tumultuous times when the Federation of the United States was passing through the stages of its formation.
It is a quiet, slumbering town with few residents seen on the roads. But there is a permeating blissful spirit running through the air that impels the visitors to come again to this dreamy town.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat
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