Where the Metroplex Began
One of the big questions in the history of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is how did this concentration of people happen? The U.S. Census Bureau identifies the DFW 'Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area' to contain about 5 million people. It is the 8th largest CMSA in the U.S., and the largest between the east and west coasts and south of the Great Lakes. Yet, there was absolutely no settlement of any kind here when the Republic of Texas was founded. We can argue about why this concentration of people came to be, but the first thing to settle is where exactly did the metroplex begin?
Historical marker in Craddock Park, enscribed "Cedar Springs - earliest known historic site in Dallas County - Visited in 1840 by Colonel Wm. G. Cooke's preliminary exploration for a route between Austin and Red River. A community also called Cedar Springs, established in this vicinity in 1843 by Dr. John Cole, rivalled Dallas in an election in 1848 for county seat. In 1929, the land was annexed to Dallas. Erected by the State of Texas, 1936"
The oldest map showing any detail around what is now the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was made by H.L. Upshur in 1841 as a result of Cooke's explorations. Cooke was asked to scout a way a road that the republic of Texas wanted to build, to be called the 'Central Texas National Highway'. This route follows the firm ridge of Austin chalk north from Austin, basically the same route followed by I-35 today. This map shows what was in the region between Austin and the Red River before John Neely Bryan settled on the banks of the Trinity.
A group of Dallas history buffs visited the region around Cedar Springs on a drizzily April 30, and below are a few pictures from this walking tour. Led by the encyclopedic Eliot Greene, we started at the historical marker in Craddock Park (Lemmon and the Tollway) and walked south to Cedar Springs. We crossed over the Tollway and went to King's Road. The site of the old 'Post on Trinity' is presently occupied by ' The Springs' condominiums. The establishment kindly allowed us access. Below are a couple of pictures taken on the condo grounds, near the intersection of Cedar Springs and Kings Road. There is also a historical marker inside the condo fence.
View from just downstream from where the post might have been, on the north bank of Cedar Branch, looking towards Cedar Springs Road. A watermill was built very close to where the bridge is now.
We continued west on Cedar Springs Road a hundred yards or so to an apartment complex, where there is an open spring. Good water still issues from this spring. The apartment complex has done a great job preserving this wonderful piece of Dallas history. It was springs like this that attracted Cooke and his troops to building their 'Post-On-Trinity' where they did.
We returned to Craddock Park along Cedar Branch. At one point we stopped under a bridge, where water flowed into the creek. Eliot assured us that this was pure spring water, so he and Ken Holmes stopped for a sip. Greg Jaynes witnessed the event, as can be seen in the jpeg below. So far, Eliot and Ken have reported no ill effects, but we recommend culvert drinking for only the hardiest of Dallas History buffs!