José Rodríguez’s bill creating a statewide Tom Lea Trail passed The Texas Transportation Committee late Wednesday.
S.B. 928 will designate a heritage trail commemorating Tom Lea, an El Paso artist, muralist, author, and war correspondent who was known across Texas and beyond. As described by Texas Highways magazine, Lea “helped to define the way the world would view the mythology of Texas for much of the 20th Century.”
The twelve municipalities on the trail are Austin, College Station, Dallas, El Paso, Fredericksburg, Galveston, Hebbronville, Kingsville, Odessa, Seymour, Sweetwater, and Waco.
Tom Lea was born in 1907 and created many works of art and literature over his lifetime. Lea painted murals dramatizing Texas’ history throughout the state, and his novels The Brave Bulls and The Wonderful Country are widely considered to be classics of southwestern American literature.
The Texas Historical Commission (THC) must designate locations that are historically significant to the life and art of Tom Lea, adopt an icon or symbol to represent the trail, and develop itineraries and maps to guide tourists to locations on the Trail. THC is not required to undertake any marketing efforts without private funds raised for that purpose, and the Tom Lea Institute, headquartered in El Paso, has interest in publicizing the Trail once designated.
A companion bill, House Bill 1992, has been filed by Rep. Joe Pickett, the dean of the El Paso legislative delegation. Senate Bill 928 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.