Preston Trail, later known as the Old Preston Road, was a road created by the Republic of Texas in 1841 from Preston, Texas on the Red River south to Austin, Texas. This road closely followed an existing trail that led across the area that had been used for centuries. This road was a main transportation artery from Central Texas to North Texas in the latter half of the 19th century. Today Texas State Highway 289 follows near this former road.
The Preston Trail followed an ancient Indian trail extending from Mexico through central Texas all the way to what is now St. Louis, Missouri and even on to Ohio where the Shawnee Indians lived. Parts of this old trail became known as the Chihuahua Trail. Extending northwards from Cedar Springs to the Red River, the Old Preston Road crossed very few streams. It followed a geographic spine of topography that still exists today where rainwater draining to the west flows into the Elm Fork of the Trinity River and rainwater draining to the east flows into the East Fork of the Trinity River until the rivers merge below Dallas.
The route of the Preston Trail followed the earlier cattle trail that came to be known as the Texas Road (also known as the Shawnee Trail). The Texas Road was in use in the early 1840s.
Preston Trail became part of the first official Texas military road in 1839. In the autumn that year, Albert Sidney Johnston (who was at that time the Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas) sent soldiers under the command of Colonel William Gordon Cooke to build a road from the Brazos River to the Red River and establish frontier forts to protect settlers from Indian attacks.
In 1840 the 23-year-old William Gilwater Preston was the commanding officer of a unit of Republic of Texas soldiers stationed at the newly founded Fort Preston near Preston, Texas on the Red River. These soldiers were responsible for building a road from Preston, Texas to Austin, Texas. The road was surveyed in 1840.
The Preston Trail extended from its southern terminus in Austin northwards to Cedar Springs (now part of downtown Dallas). From that point, it was known as Preston Road. Preston Road extended approximately 100 miles (160 km) further northwards from the Trinity River at Dallas all the way through Dallas, Collin and Grayson counties to the town of Preston, where it joined the Texas Road. The Texas Road then crossed the Red River as it headed north into Missouri.
Today Texas State Highway 289, also known as the modern Preston Road, closely follows the path of the original Preston Trail.
Preston Road is a major commercial roadway that stretches from the heart of Dallas, Texas north through the suburbs of Plano, Frisco, Prosper and Celina. The road is named after and follows the general route of the original trail. Statues installed along the road in Frisco, Texas, depict the Native Americans, cattle drives, and settlers that used the trail.
The Preston Ridge Campus of Collin College in Frisco, Texas is named after the ridge and has been built near the original trail/ridge.
The Centre at Preston Ridge is a major shopping center in Frisco, Texas adjacent to Preston Road and the ridge. It contains statues representing a cattle drive on the trail and includes obelisks with historical information about the trail.
Preston Trail Community Church on Independence Parkway in Frisco, Texas is also named after the trail (its first location on Main Street was close to the trail).