|Dwight D. Eisenhower's Birthplace|
|Room where Eisenhower was born|
|Statue of Eisenhower by Robert Dean|
Denison’s downtown is surprisingly long and large with the train station anchoring the east side. This is the third station on the site and includes a wedding venue in the former waiting room and a railroad museum. There we learned Union Pacific bought the KATY railroad and still runs freight trains through the town. However, the railroad yard now lies west of town and is a busy place.
|Kaboodles Store in Denison|
After lunch at Café Java’s (also known as CJ’s), we walked past the old Rialto theatre. As we peered through the glass doors, new owner Rich Vann waved us in. He has replaced the sound system, brought in a large screen, and is ready for nightly live shows, movies, or even football games. His opening event on August 23rd is a Stevie Wonder impersonator. “We aren’t promising anything. We’re just going to do it,” he tells us. All those living in the downtown lofts are going to appreciate this venue. Rialto Facebook Page
|Swimming Beach at Eisenhower State Park|
Eisenhower State Park
Further around the lake we found the Compass Rose – an exact replica of a wooden, tall sailing, brigantine privateer boat from the 1860s. It was undergoing repairs as we approached. A young man introduced himself as Mark Nagel. “I’m the quartermaster,” he said. Captain Ron Odom soon approached and shared the history of his boat. She was built in 1968, has traveled around the world twice and is one of only 145 remaining privateers in the world, few of which are still sailing. Since their purchase, Captain Ron and his wife, Tamie, have refigured the sails into a square rig which allows the boat to turn in any direction, picking up the wind on the lake. They’ve replaced just about everything, furnished it with period pieces and covered the hull with fiber glass to protect it from growth in the lake.
This nautical life is especially surprising for Ron who lived 52 years on a cattle ranch in West Texas. After spending summers sailing in the Caribbean and owning a series of Hunter boats, Ron and Tamie are finally living their dream. The Odoms have made the ship available for tours (1st and 3rd Saturdays) and sails. All of the crew work as volunteers except a required 100 ton captain. Passengers are treated to pirates in authentic costumes, complete with an ex-marine who climbs the mast and rigging. Check their website for sailing times, including their full moon events.
Compass Rose Website
Compass Rose Website
Denison has an eclectic assortment of history, art, recreation, and entertainment for visitors – certainly enough to fill a day or weekend. Since it’s just an hour down the road, more in Paris should take advantage – unless pirates make you nervous.