History of Highland Park

In 1837, after a savage Indian battle, the remnants of a Texas Ranger scouting expedition camped in a lovely spot along “the creek with all the turtles.” These survivors were the first recorded Anglo-Americans in the area that is now known as Highland Park. Years later, this creek would become known as Turtle Creek, offering breathtaking park vistas for area residents.

A year later, an old Caddo Indian trace was surveyed by the Republic of Texas to become part of a National Central Road to run from Austin to the Red River. This route was also used as a segment of the old Shawnee Trail for cattle drives to Missouri. Today that trail is known as Preston Road. It is easy to imagine the founder of Dallas, John Neely Bryan, walking through the one-day-to-be Highland Park as he traveled Preston Trail on his way to the founding of Dallas.

The Legend of The “Million Dollar Monarch” Tree in Highland Park

There’s a pecan tree near Preston Road and Armstrong Parkway that’s been here almost as long as Dallas itself. In 1865 Joseph Cole was working his cornfield north of town when he came upon this tree no bigger around than a pencil sprouting from the earth. A shoot had grown from a pecan carried up from nearby Turtle Creek…perhaps dropped by a bird or squirrel. The tree was too far from the creek to survive and most farmers would have plowed it under but Joe ordered a field hand to fence the tree off and water it. Joe had just come home from the Civil War and later people would explain what he did by seeing too much destruction and killing up north. Of course, nobody really knows why Joe did what he did but the tree survived and Joe took care of it until it could be seen for miles on the flat plain above the creek, just off the Preston Trail.