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Bois d'Arc Saturday Afternoon Tours Offered

By Fred Tarpley

Commerce, TX – Three Saturday afternoon tours and a downtown welcome of a new downtown landmark have been added to the Bois d'Arc program for Sept. 24. Reservations may be made by calling 903-886-6498 before Sept.24 or by calling the Commerce Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 24 and asking for Lavonne Wells or Evonne Richardson. The three tours will depart from the street between the Commerce Public Library and the Commerce Post Office.

Heritage Tour of Cow Hill Sites. Robert Grove, a Cow Hill landowner, will lead the tour, leaving promptly at 1:30 and returning to the departure site at 2:55. Many residents of Commerce know that Cow Hill is the community that preceded Commerce, but few have visited the site. The tour will proceed along North Park Street and turn left on FM 71 past Ridgecrest Baptist Church, where the ridge above the Middle Sulphur River gave cows refuge from floods, flies, and mosquitoes. Just before the eastern Commerce city limit sign, the tour will turn onto private land. Photo opportunities: site of the story operated by Josiah Hart and William Jernigin. Jernigin moved to the northeast corner of the current Commerce square when new trade route from Sulphur Springs to Bonham opened, and a new bridge was completed over the Middle Sulphur River. A giant bois d'arc tree grows near the site of the store.

A second photo opportunity will be a picturesque decorative windmill standing at the point of where the ridge begins to slope into the Middle Sulphur River valley. The tour will continue with photo stops on the Cow Hill Farm, owned by the Robert Grove family, and the identification of a race track that once thrived in Cow Hill.

ATour of Literary Scenes and of Bois d'Arc Designations in Klondike and Shiloh. Jim Ainsworth, a native of Klondike, will lead the tour leaving promptly at 3 p.m. from the departure site beside the library. And going nine miles to Klondike in Delta County. As photo opportunities, he will identify scenes he incorporated into this four acclaimed novels about the fictional Jake Rivers family. There will also be photo stops at elaborate bois d'arc gates designed g Clifton Haddock in the Shiloh area. The tor will end promptly to allow 4:25 arrival at the Commerce departure area.

Homage to Big Max. Jim Conrad, "the man in the bois d'arc tree suit," will lead the final tour promptly at 4:30 p.m. from beside the library. Dr. Conrad will discuss the dimensions and history of the second largest bois d'arc tree in Texas, presently a tad smaller that the champ in New Boston. There will be opportunities for affectionate hugs for "Big Max." After a short visit, the tour will return to its departure point at 5 p.m. and will return to the departure site at 5:25.

For each of the three tours, the request is made that each passenger in the tour director's vehicle makes a $1 transportation contribution. For those riding in other vehicles, the request is made a $1 contribution be made unless the individual hitched a ride with a group not requiring reimbursement.

There is no transportation fee for the Welcome to a New Landmark at the new city park in front of the City Hall in downtown Commerce at 6 p.m. For three decades of the Bois d'Arc Bash, a giant bois d'arc tree trunk fascinated visitors to the park south of Maple Street. Jerry Lytle had spotted the earlier tree and arranged for it to be moved four miles into Commerce. Bees and wasps led to the tree's removal. Recently Jerry learned about a massive tree that had fallen from the banks of Smith Creek four miles southwest of Commerce. How does one arrange to move a sixty-five foot truck into Commerce, arrange for manicuring the hazardous rough spots and have it moved to a new home downtown between Main and Alamo streets for bois d'arc lovers to enjoy. Jerry knows, and he did it. He will introduce the unnamed tree and reveal plans for a formal naming ceremony before Christmas.