Cass County has a genuine tourist attraction, and one day someone is going to develop it.
And at least make it tidy and clean, if not totally impressive.Gallery: Marking the spot
The attraction is to be able to stand with one foot in the soil of one state, the second in another and lean over to place a hand on the grounds of a third state.
That's pretty exciting. Nowhere else in Texas.
Where is it, then?
Take the road to the southeast. That's Texas Highway 77. Plan to stop at Three States.
That's what two cars did recently, one from Ohio and the other from Galveston, Texas.
The visitors from Galveston were two grandparents and two granddaughters. Once they had three generations of their family living in Cass County. These were the McKeehans.
Wally McKeehan remembers coming here as a child with his father, Wallace, and family. Wally helped his dad clean and clear the Harmony Grove Cemetery, where grandfather James McKeehan is buried.
"I'm proud of that memory," Wally said. "My dad knew everyone around here and where they were buried. But some of our relatives were unmarked. We marked all the relatives' names in that cemetery."
The folks from Ohio were merely passing through. Somehow, they saw the lines on the map converge upon this Three States corner of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, and they decided to come take a look.
Actually, they saw these lines on their iPhone maps and were following their GPS devices to pilot their way through Texas. They weren't even familiar with the highway numbers.
They didn't say whether Three States and its marker proclaiming the junction of three states along the roadside of Texas State Highway 77 and Louisiana State Highway 1 is on the iPhone map and with its GPS pinpoint.
Probably it is. It does not likely have a Facebook page, however.
The marker is the 1930 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey benchmark that is the precise point where the three states meet. It barely pokes its head out of the ground and it's surrounded in the arms of the roots of a tall tree.
But you can be in threes states at once here. That's the cool thing.
The scenic view behind the marker on the Texas side is a derelict building. On the Arkansas side there's a package store, and in Louisiana the road goes off to Vivian and Shreveport. Grass here is likely never mowed.
An historic Texas state welcoming monument in the shape of the state is nearby. It would add nicely to a landscaping project.
Three States has a brief history. It peaked in the 1930s when the oil fields were booming. Before then, in the 19th century, the greater area had been considered part of Arkansas with a hazy status as a lawless, no-man's land.
Bloomburg, just up the road, recalls that history with its cultivation of a Cullen Baker Fair. Baker wreaked havoc as an outlaw in the 1850 and 1860s.
One Bloomburg resident said when growing up in the early part of the century, one did not go to the Three States area with its alcohol free-sale area—or admit having gone there if one did.
Stores and the community developed at Three States with the arrival of oil. The Endsleys, Whites and Browns had stores and gasoline service stations on the Texas side, at that time the more commercial part of the area.
Louisiana's influence was that about six miles down the road, Rodessa boomed with oil. Today, when traveling that way, two concrete frogs, one labeled "Alabama" and the other "Georgia," will be seen sitting on 8-foot-high brick perches.
The plaque tells the tale of how Rodessa was originally named Frog Level. This could be another tourist stop.
Arkansas doesn't seem to have much presence in Three States. It simply has a road trailing off to the northeast. It passes by Brown Cemetery which, in itself, is interesting because locals say no Browns are buried in the Brown Cemetery. The land for the resting place was given by the Browns, however.
When oil dwindled in the 1960s, Three States lost ground. Three States had no other center. It had no post office. Many residents would go up the road on the Louisiana side to Zylks to get their mail.
But now, t0 come here and stand in two states and put your hand in a third—that is a big deal. Someone is going to capitalize on it.
The family of McKeehans had a big reason for stopping, and they enjoyed the memories and carefully looked at the wording on the marker.
The two people from Ohio were a little eccentric in their tastes and reason for stopping.
Alex Wright and his girlfriend Krista Beazey wanted their picture taken at the Three State marker.
One would never guess that Krista pulled out of her bag a genuine Polaroid instant print camera with its self-developing film. That camera brand lasted from 1948 to 2008. No one sees them anymore.
But like today's generation, which wants everything fast, this couple took their picture and waited about eight minutes for the print.
It showed them laughing as they stood in three states in Three States.
Could be a tourist trap one of these days.