Stephen F. Austin State University

Coushatta Trace (January 2014)

Coushatta Trace
By Jonnie Miller

The Coushatta Trace was a road or path from Louisiana into Texas that was used by the Coushatta Indians. It was important because it was a middle road between the Atascosito Road which was patrolled by the Spanish and the Old San Antonio Road further inland. The first group of Coushatta came into Louisiana in about 1766. The settled along the Sabine River near the mouth of Quicksand Creek. They opened a path from their village southwest to La Bahia. This path, only wide enough for a horseback rider, was known as the Coushatta Trace, more a footpath than a trail. Gen Sam Houston chose this path at its crossing of the Brazos in his retreat in 1836. Also known as the contraband trace, packmules loaded with merchandise went from Louisiana to Mexico. Stephen F. Austin's colony used this path as well as many others.

Although the Coushatta Trace and the Atascosito Road were the most important roads through Austin's colony, the actual route of the Coushatta Trace has been discovered only generally and recently. Howard N. Martin identified the trail of the trace to extend from the Coushatta village on the Sabine River through the area of ten present Texas counties and merged with the Atascosito Road in Colorado County. From the village, one major trail led eastward to Opelousas, Louisiana and another, the Coushatta Nacogdoches Trace, extended northwestward to the post of Nacogdoches where the Indians traded and received presents from the Spanish.. The trace began at the village on the Sabine, through Newton and Jasper Counties to the Kisatchie Wold. It then turned westward along this ridge, crossed the Neches River near the mouth of the Shawnee Creek and passed through the Alabama Indian villages of Cane Island and Peachtree in Tyler County. It continued to follow the Kisatchies Wold westward through the site of Moscow in Polk County, crossed the Trinity River near the Battise Village of the Coushattas and passed through the area of present San Jacinto County and the southeastern corner of Walker County. At some point the trail crossed the San Bernard River and merged with the Atascosito Road at the Rawson Alley survey on the east bank of the Colorado River.

This part of the trail become so traveled that the Mexican government erected Fort Teran in 1831 at the Coushatta Trace crossing of the Neches River as a means of controlling the movement of settlers into Texas. Today only a few sections of the trace remain in use. One is the paved ten-miler section of Farm to Market 350 west of Moscow in Polk County.

Most of this can be found on line at The Handbook of Texas Online.