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Texas in Review - Salado (1957)

Texas Historical Commission

Sound | 1957

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  •  NARRATOR: Like a little old lady in a poke bonnet, laced dress, and buttoned slippers, the quaint little town of Salado can trace its origin back to another era in another century. Salado lies on US Highway 81, north of Austin, and just 16 miles south of Temple. Highway 81 is now being rebuilt. Its new route will bypass Salado. What will happen to the town when all the traffic is gone? Chances are that Salado will remain the same, changing little with the coming years. But traveling Texans will miss this interesting town if they take the new road instead of taking a short scenic detour via old 81. 
  •  Heading south, the first part of the tour should include rippling Salado Creek. The town was named for this stream.  
  •  Many a bubbling springs feed the creek with cool, pure water. It is believed that the plentiful water supply prompted settlers to establish the town here. On this approximate site, the first footbridge in Texas was constructed. At one time the swift-running little creek boasted dozens of water-powered grist mills. Only one reminder of that bygone industry is left in Salado, it is the tree-shaded site of old Davis Mill.  
  •  Colonel Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson built a home in Salado in 1856. It is still standing in all its century-old glory, and descendants of Colonel Robertson now reside in the twenty-two-room mansion. Colonel Robertson’s grave behind the home is marked with the tallest stone in the family graveyard. Slave quarters attached to the white-framed structure betray the home's real age. Antebellum Texas is written in the architecture which has been unsullied by modern remodeling.  
  •  The home’s kitchen dining service wing is constructed of native limestone. During the spring, the Robertson home is open to visitors for a small admission charge, but only those people who take the time to use the old road will see this interesting Salado home. Inside the house, it can be seen that time has not taken its toll of the old. The 101-year-old staircase is used daily by the occupants. Its tread is from the hardwood of yellow pine. Handmade pedestals and newel posts adorn the steps. 
  •  If the visitor should want to wonder through what was once called Sterling’s Castle, one of Colonel Robertson’s descendants would more than likely enumerate tales concerning many of the original furnishings used in the house, those interested would be shown documents and papers that played a part in the life of Colonel E.S.C. Robertson. Over 10,000 priceless documents are exhibited in the spring months, together with rare books, silver, glassware, guns, and china.  
  •  Colonel Robertson was a man of culture, and a benefactor to education. He donated one hundred acres of land on which Salado College was built. Truly this town presents a vision of the past. Back in 1859 before the Civil War, Salado College—whose ruins stand proudly by the present route of US 81—was a famous school. Two governors and scores of other prominent Texans were among its alumni. The old school perched above the city on a rocky knoll as if it were an acropolis. This location and the high quality of teaching gave Salado the title of "Athens of Texas."  
  •  The history of the school is unique in that it operated for a 24-year period with tuition as its only source of income. Salado College was destroyed three times by fire. It was never rebuilt after a blaze in 1924. 
  •  From the old college site, Salado unfolds in all its historic charm. This little town in Bell County is populated by 210 happy citizens, some of whom remember the Stage Coach Inn as Shady Villa. Shady Villa was built about 1838 as a rest stop and overnight point on the Pony Express and overland mail routes. The old building still houses the century old inn keeping business. It is now primarily a dining room operated by Dion Van Bibber. A few of the original rooms are available to guests mostly for the sake of tradition.  
  •  Near the inn is a cave containing a flowing spring, the water from which is now piped to the inn. In the wilder days of Texas, the cave with its good supply of water is reputed to be have used as a refuge by Sam Bass and other outlaws. The cave is said to be have been furnished at one time with sleeping facilities. Famous Lone Star State patriots also used the inn and its cave. Some of them were Sam Huston, Stephen F. Austin, Jim Bowie, and Generals Custer and Lee. Both the cave and Stage Coach Inn are located just off the present highway. 
  •  Soon a new super highway will bypass Salado and all its history and charm. But on the new thoroughfare, there will be a marker that reads: To Salado. Take that short detour and discover for yourself old Salado—a town that time has spared.  
  •  Salado, Texas, US Hwy 81 
  •  Salado Creek 
  •  First footbridge in Texas constructed 
  •  Old Davis Mill 
  •  Colonel Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson house 
  •  Sterling's Castle 
  •  Salado College,built 1859, history 
  •  College destroyed by fire 
  •  Stagecoach Inn, Shady Villa and the Pony Express 
  •  Cave near inn where many famous people stayed 
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This clip, originally aired as part of the August 19, 1957 episode of "Texas in Review," gives an overview of the historic town of Salado on the eve of a major highway rerouting that would divert traffic away from the community. Framed as an answer to the question "What can be found on the scenic detour of Old Highway 81," the film highlights the town's attractions. Among the sites included are Salado Creek, the Robertson home - a traditional 22-room plantation mansion and grounds, the ruins of Salado College, and the Stagecoach Inn. Transcribed by Adept Word Management™, Inc.

"Texas in Review" was a television series sponsored by the Humble Oil & Refining Company.  Originally produced in a news-like format by Fort Worth's Channel 5, the series was later given to the Jamieson Film Company, who developed its newsreel and TV-magazine style. For five years, Jamieson produced the program in its entirety (writing, filming, editing), until recession-induced budget cuts caused Humble Oil to cancel it in 1958. While on air in Dallas, it enjoyed the prime time spot between the popular "Burns & Allen" and "I Love Lucy."