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Historic Petrified Wood Tourist Camp & Gas Station in Decatur, Texas

Historic Petrified Wood Travel Station in Decatur, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Historic Petrified Wood Travel Station in Decatur, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Texas Tourist Camp

In 1927, E.F. Boydston bought a feed lot in Decatur, Texas and turned it into the Texas Tourist Camp. As grand as that sounds, in the beginning, it was merely a gas station that offered campsites. Next came a restaurant, which started as the Texas Lunchroom, but soon became known as the Texas Cafe.

Historic Petrified Wood Travel Station in Decatur, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Historic Petrified Wood Travel Station in Decatur, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Petrified Wood & Infamous Guests

In the 1930’s, Mr. Boydston added several cabins with attached garages, thereby creating a rustic motel for tourists passing through town on the new highway.

In 1935, he spruced things up by covering all the buildings in petrified wood. It’s rumored that shortly before their bloody demise, the infamous gangster duo, Bonnie and Clyde stayed a night or two here.

Historic Petrified Wood Travel Station in Decatur, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Historic Petrified Wood Travel Station in Decatur, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Local Highway Kept Business Thriving

Business boomed at the gas station, cabins and restaurant until the 1960’s, when the highway was diverted to the west side of town. With fewer people driving by, business withered away. The cafe went under in 1964, the cabins scraped by until 1970, and the gas station finally closed its doors in 1989.

It looked as though the petrified wood complex was going to go the way of the dinosaur, or at least fall to rack and ruin like so many places I see in north Texas.(Check out my photos in the post, Glen Rose, Texas: Dinosaurs Galore & Much, Much More. That little town is full of petrified wood buildings, but many are falling apart.)

Historic Petrified Wood Travel Station in Decatur, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Historic Petrified Wood Travel Station in Decatur, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

A Petrified Wood Renaissance

Luckily, one of E.F. Boydston’s grandkids, Nancy Rosendahl, and her husband, Jim, stepped in to restore the petrified wood complex in the 1990’s.

These days, Jim uses the old gas station as an office, and the restaurant, now known as the Whistle Stop Cafe (904 S Business 81/287 Decatur, Texas), is a local hot spot. On the day my husband and I had lunch there with a friend, the food was good and the joint was jumping.

If you are ever in the Decatur area – which is about an hour’s drive from Dallas, Texas – I highly recommend checking out the historic Texas Tourist Camp and grabbing a bite to eat at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Tui Snider
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Tui Snider

Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in quirky, haunted, and downright bizarre destinations. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!” Snider's writing and photography have been featured in a variety of publications, including Coast to Coast AM, FOX Travel News, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman Waking, Shades of Angels and more. Snider’s award-winning books include Paranormal Texas, The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber, and Unexpected Texas. Snider has several more books in progress, including a Field Guide to Cemetery Symbols and a book about the Great Texas Airship Mystery of 1897. Tui has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. She enjoys connecting with writers and readers all over the globe through social media, her newsletter and her website: TuiSnider.com.
Tui Snider
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Published inTravel Photo Essays

7 Comments

  1. Robert wimer Robert wimer

    Thanks for sharing that info on this Historical place , my friend and I stopped by the other day returning from a hunting trip. We were approached by two young men , who lived near by. We asked if the cafe is in service they stated yes. But only through the week days. We’ve been coming by here for along time but did not know it was operating . now we know. We will be coming by very soon to try them out.

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Thanks, Patricia! :)

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