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The Texas Tourist Camp and Petrified Wood Gas Station stand like relics from a by-gone era on the east side of Decatur, an old Chisholm trail town which used to be the site of the Decatur Baptist College (now, it’s the Dallas Baptist University). The complex consisted of a gas station, five cabins, and a café. Today, only the café serves its original purpose.

It actually began as a camp ground on the edge of town. In 1927, owner E.F. Boydston, realized that money could be made as people began travelling for leisure, so he added a gas station, and in 1929 opened the Texas Lunchroom for hungry road trippers. In the early 30’s, Boydston built cabins with garages to offer more comfortable settings. To REALLY spruce things up, his brother Nolan put petrified wood (quarried from around the area) on the exteriors in 1935. The tourist court became an attraction in its own right, and remained popular throughout the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s for locals, travelers and college kids.

As typical North Texas history goes, Bonnie and Clyde supposedly stayed in one of the cabins for a few nights. Since the Texas Tourist Camp didn’t make guests sign a register, and the couple used the back roads into Dallas constantly, the claim may not be too far fetched.

Sadly, the Texas Tourist Camp went the way of juke boxes and poodle skirts. As Interstates began bypassing whole towns, it slowly began its demise. First, the Texas Lunchroom closed in 1964… about ten years later, the cabins shut their doors for good. The gas station remained open until 1989.

In 1992, some enterprising souls bought and remodeled the Texas Lunchroom, renamed it the Texas Café, and now cook up hamburgers, chili, and apple pie. The Boydston living quarters are insurance offices, and the gas station serves as an office for the remaining family.

Nancy Rosendahl, grand-daughter of E.F. Boydston, restored the camp to its hey day look (ca. 1953) and applied for a historical marker, which was granted in 1995. Because of the architectural style (late, late, late wood) and that the building of the court coincided directly with the National Highway Act of 1924, the complex became a part of the National Historic Registry as well.

info from Texas Escapes

Son of an avid reader of paperbacks and a manager of a photofinishing plant in Abilene, Texas.

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  • Carla Jensen
    Carla Jensenabout 4 years ago

    Magnificent image…Terence!!! This is such an amazing looking old Gas Station!! Increditble find and work, my friend!! wtg =D

  • Thanks, Carla.

    – Terence Russell

  • Kim Barton
    Kim Bartonabout 4 years ago

    How fun! Loved the history, too!

  • Thanks, Kim. I always think the history gives the building the right context!

    – Terence Russell

  • shutterbug2010
    shutterbug2010about 4 years ago

    Cool shot of a cool spot, thanks for the history!

  • Thanks my friend.

    – Terence Russell

  • canonman99
    canonman99about 4 years ago

    excellent, appreciate the backround info…..

  • Thanks a lot, Dennis!

    – Terence Russell

  • Barbara  Brown
    Barbara Brownabout 4 years ago

    A great image!

  • Thanks so much, Barbara.

    – Terence Russell

  • 1stImpressions
    1stImpressionsabout 4 years ago

    wonderful hdr work

  • Thanks, mate.

    – Terence Russell

  • Bobby Dar
    Bobby Darabout 4 years ago

    superb work

  • Wow! Thanks for a wonderful compliment, Bobby!

    – Terence Russell

  • Christine Annas
    Christine Annasabout 4 years ago

    Oh, yeah! Nice find, love these old gas stations, it is almost as if they have been preserved just for us, photographers who can’t get enough of these relics of the past. Perfect for HDR with the wide angle and spooky cool clouds.

  • I can never pass these wonderful buildings. I was there the previous week and photographed it under a clear blue sky, but was not fully pleased with my results, hence the hour long trip back for a re-shoot under a more dynamic sky! Much better results. Thanks for such a wonderfully insightful comment, dear friend.

    – Terence Russell

  • Jigsawman
    Jigsawmanabout 4 years ago

    Brilliant HDR my friend.

  • Thanks muchly!

    – Terence Russell

  • Yhun Suarez
    Yhun Suarezabout 4 years ago

    superb HDR Terence :)

  • Thanks, Yhun!

    – Terence Russell

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