Each Spring in Tyler Texas, beautiful landscaped yards and gardens abound with colorful blooming Azaleas. Azaleas were first introduced to Tyler in 1929, but it wasn’t until 1960 that the Tyler Chamber of Commerce organized the event and started marking trails. Today there are eight miles of marked Azalea Trails passing by beautiful residential gardens and historic home sites.
Two Trails, the Dobbs and Lindsey Trails, wind through beautiful old residential neighborhoods. The trails extend a few blocks east and west of South Broadway Avenue. Signs for the trails start to appear just a few blocks after the Smith County Courthouse, as you travel south on Broadway Avenue.
The trails are organized to minimize traffic congestion. Some parts of the trails are very walkable, and some homes and gardens are actually open for touring. Certain homes along the trails are attended by young ladies attired in Antebellum Period clothing.
Besides the Azalea Trails, consider a visit to the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden and the Rose Museum. As the name implies, it is a rose garden, but they also have a nice display of Azaleas.
Azaleas were introduced to Tyler in 1929 by Maurice Shamburger. Pleased with results of a test garden of Azaleas, Mr. Shamburger shipped the colorful plants to Tyler, by the boxcar load, from Georgia.
Maurice Shamburger then shared his enthusiasm for Azaleas with Mrs. Sara Butler of the Tyler Courier Times Telegraph. Mrs. Butler encouraged Shamburger to promote Azalea plantings in the city, and planted a number of Azalea bushes at her own home on Charnwood St.
That home site, along with several other gardens on Lindsey Lane, soon became springtime showplaces with their colorful Azalea blooms, and the people of Tyler began buying the plants by the thousands. Some of the thick, towering Azaleas at older homes on the Trail of today, date back to the 1930’s and 1940’s.
By 1960, the blooming Azaleas were attracting much attention, and the first marked Azalea Trail was established by the Chamber of Commerce. The first trail featured about 60 homes on a five-mile route.
The Azalea Trail in Tyler was an instant success. Within two years it had expanded to 75 homes and was attracting 15,000 visitors. In 1964, 25,000 people came to see the Azaleas. In 1986 the trail expanded to two miles and as of 2004 the Azalea Trail stretches eight miles and attracts over 100,000 visitors.
The homeowners in the neighborhoods along the Azalea Trail make this event the success it is. They spend countless hours making sure their yards are absolutely gorgeous, just in time for the annual Azalea Trail.
The Tyler Azalea Trail event has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines, including Southern Living and Texas Highways.
The information presented here was collected while visiting the town of Tyler Texas in the Spring of 2006. Information on the history of the event was extracted from the Visit Tyler Web site.
315 N. Broadway Avenue
Tyler, Texas 75701
Copyright © 2008 by Sam Fenstermacher
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