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The Gateway

An American family leaving their home and traveling down the El Camino Real de los Tejas with their dog, gun, and what would fit on their horse. They left everything they have ever known for a promise of land and a new beginning in Texas.

In 2010, Charles Bright and other board members of The Charles and Lois Marie Bright Foundation began planning for the creation of “The Gateway” to honor those early Americans who traveled west on the El Camino Real to settle Texas, but also as a way to honor Charles Bright. Charles Bright was instrumental in revitalizing downtown Nacogdoches which included the restoration of his father’s grocery store that was originally located on the square. [1 & 2]

This poem by Karle Wilson Baker was the inspiration behind The Gateway.

Nacogdoches Speaks

I was The Gateway. Here they came, and passed,
The homespun centaurs with their arms of steel
And taut heart-strings: wild wills, who thought to deal
Bare-handed with jade Fortune, tracked at last
Out of her silken lairs into the vast
Of a Man’s world. They passed, but still I feel
The dint of hoof, the print of booted heel,
Like prick of spurs--the shadows that they cast.
I do not vaunt their valors, or their crimes:
I tell my secrets only to some lover,
Some taster of spilled wine and scattered musk.
But I have not forgotten; and sometimes,
The things that I remember rise, and hover.
A sharper perfume in some April dusk. [3]

The Gateway stands in downtown Nacogdoches in front of the Charles Bright Visitor Center. Texan artist Michael Boyett (1943-2015) sculpted the statue. The Charles and Lois Marie Bright Foundation sponsored The Gateway, and the dedication was in February of 2013. [4]


The Gateway
The Gateway A mother is holding on tightly to her newborn as they look to settle on uncharted territory.
The Gateway
The Gateway Traveling along the El Camino Real de los Tejas to the unknown.
The Gateway
The Gateway Texas or bust on the El Camino Real de los Tejas.
The Gateway
The Gateway Plaque on The Gateway statue.



Emily Smith, “The Gateway,” East Texas History, accessed March 5, 2024,