NTrail Riders on their way to RodeoHouston

Northeastern Trail Ride brings a bit of history to Crosby

By David Taylor
Managing Editor

For a few hours in Crosby, the modern was mixed with old as tradition continued for the 32nd year when the Northeastern Trail Rider’s Association trail ride rode through Crosby last Wednesday. Established in 1982, the association ride continues in the face of dwindling numbers, but Trail Boss Anthony Bruno is hellbent on preserving their history.

The riders’ trek on Wednesday was 18 arduous miles, navigating around construction on US 90 in Liberty.

“We do it like we’re working,” Bruno said. “We’ll ride for a couple of hours, take a restroom break, then another two hours and then lunch. Then we mount up again for another two-hour ride, and then a bathroom and water break, then head on to our overnight camp.”

The trail riders started out in Cheeks, Texas, just southwest of Beaumont, and traveled to Devers on their first leg of the trip to spend the night. On Monday, the riders mounted up and headed to Rivon’s Arena in Raywood for their overnight stay. Tuesday found the third leg of the trip ending at Bar Rodeo Arena off FM 1409 in Dayton. Construction in Dayton and parts of Liberty County made the fourth day a little more arduous, but the trail riders made their way into Crosby, coming down US 90 to Church Street and then into the Crosby Rodeo and Fairgrounds around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The Thursday trek took riders into the Sheldon area and north Houston at Triangle Seven Arena off Parker Road. On Friday, the trail riders rode into Memorial Park and met up with 10 other trail rides and hundreds more riders and wagons who spent the night before the Saturday parade.

The trail ride was founded by Bruno’s father and 13 other friends and family members.

“We wanted to represent the northeast part of town where we live and our Louisiana culture,” Bruno said.

His father, Joseph, rode in the trail ride until he turned 82 and physically could no longer make the trek into Houston. He passed away at 90 in 2022, the day after Christmas.

Bruno’s great great grandfather was born a slave and worked as a stable boy.

“He would train the mules and horses for the plantation that he lived on. That’s where our horse and mule interest came into play. We’ve had horses all our lives,” Bruno said.

The trail boss retired from trucking after 30 years and went back to work with his dad as a longshoreman at the Port of Houston.

“You can’t imagine how much water is moved across those waters,” he smiled.

He praised the insurance his father had through the longshoremen local and believed it helped extend his life.

The smaller group is tough on the trail ride.

“It’s economics. This is an expensive hobby. We’re just doing our best to keep our culture alive and teaching people about our history,” he said.

Like his father taught him, Bruno had his daughter with him on the trail ride this year.

The trail ride started with 36 riders, but not all can take the whole week off, so they join them on different days during the ride.

“We have more people on our roster than rides on the trail ride, so they kind of rotate the days off,” he said.

The riders are escorted by law enforcement and every trail ride has scouts who are responsible for the safety of the riders, flagging down traffic and leading the trail mostly on the side of the road or in a single lane so traffic can go around them safely.

“When we get home after this trail ride, we start immediately planning for next year,” Bruno said. “We already have campsites secured for next year and we can always make adjustments if something comes up.”

The trail ride is a little more modernized now, using RVs and custom trailers for the meals at night and sleeping arrangements.

Typical fare includes chili one night, etouffee another, and other trail delicacies. Along the trail, riders make stops at local elementary schools in Devers, Dayton, and Sheldon to present scholarships and share history with the kids.

Some of that history includes the restoration of the wagons.

“Every wagon out here is an authentic 1800 wagon,” he said. “They are refurbished, but the undercarriage on all of them are from the 1800’s and brought up to standards.”

Some of those wagons are from the plantations in Louisiana and a couple from Tennessee.

“The Amish do a lot of refurbishing work on the wagons,” he said.

Bruno has been riding since he was 9 years old and has no plans of retiring from the trail ride. He plans on continuing his legacy, sharing history to anyone who will listen.