That Lost and Forgotten Trail - (From Winona to Big Sandy)

by Billy Gilbreath, from the High Plains

In the early days of growing up the trip from Winona to Big Sandy was not a high priority. Occasionally one would find a reason or a need

to take the old back trail, an unpaved, red dirt with few residences.

An aunt visiting from West Texas needed to catch the train in Big Sandy. Yes, she found a ride for the minimal fee of one dollar. The yearly visit to get your kitchen or mantle clock repaired was to see the person who was an expert repairman. The Goat Man, a legend, camped on a ridge west of the city. His miniature covered wagon and towed by goats. A small hospital located downtown and a drug store may have been an occasional visit for some. In those days, Winona was a self-sufficient

town, with doctor, café, grocery stores, ice house, depot, service station bank and even a picture show. (Watch for future writings.)

Unlike the current 155 route, taking a short period of time with paved roads, which rarely floods, the old Sabine, the old trail or road

was sometimes a challenge.
Leaving Winona, crossing the railroad and following highway 16 (not known at that time) was the most

popular route. Up Pricket Hill and passing Morris Shelton’s house and shortly to the left was the red dirt road, to follow. Winding up and down hills, passing a few residences and remembering a few roads which lead to small communities. One known as Water’s Bluff, a prominent community still found today. I discovered later that

the community, Water’s Bluff and the ferry on the Sabine, from years past are different. Perhaps the communities name was from the

old ferry near Big Sandy Switch. (the original name of Big Sandy. Passing the old Simpson Fruit Farm, which was later purchased by

Joe Zeppa was a distinct land mark. Then came that scary part, at least for a kid, that river bottom, which contained that huge steel bridge. Seems that it was a one-way crossing. Looking down, I often wondered about the alligators that might be found. Nearing the town was again, a winding road, through residents, following along the railroad and finally the crossing. Like small towns, there appeared the standard colored depot, yellow and black. Right in the middle of town, the old highway 80 nearby, which lead out to the Old Goad Man.
My writing this week contains another trail, which has occurred in my life and perhaps many of you. Not necessarily a physical one but

other markings or brands along the way. You might even recognize some of those in the writing. Always a pleasure to share with you

and I reach out to those of you who might respond with an idea.

Along the trail, there are stops for branding

For every herd there is a specific marking

Emblazed with careful emblem for identity.
Four Sixes
Searching through the lengthy book of brands

Each is enviably without a doubt the owner

F Down F Up, Lazy K, Pitchfork, Half Diamond

Half Circle Wine Glass, Running W, Five with a Tail

Half Moon, Lazy, Frying Pan, Walking Stick and B4

The unique ability to label the herd is found
Bar Cross

Along the trail of life there are brands present

Emblazed upon and within are identifying emblems

The one who may have inspired you to succeed

Could we find a brand to place on this person?

Uncle F, Wise Papa, Preacher Man, Holy Helen

Miss U, Mama E, Prof. T, Lolo S, Everything Mellow
J Crossed W

Only a few to mention and included in this herd.

The unique brand given to these is not recorded

But the specific markings remain forever within

Each of us have traveled miles along the trail

The ruts are muddy, the team becomes weak

Directions may waver, perhaps broken axel

Remember those that have had a brand in the past

Who are still on the trail, or those who finished the trail

Or the ONE branded with nail pierced hands.

Billy Gilbreath, From the High Plains