While oil booms gave Tyler an economic head start in the 1930’s, azalea and rose blooms gave the city its beauty. Azaleas were introduced to Tyler in 1929 by Maurice Shamburger, one of the city’s early nurserymen. Pleased with results of a test garden of azaleas, Shamburger shipped the colorful plants here by the boxcar loads from Georgia.
After completing his garden in 1929, Shamburger discussed the beautification potential of azaleas with Mrs. Sara Butler of the Tyler Courier Times Telegraph. Mrs. Butler not only encouraged Shamburger to promote azalea plantings in the city, but planted a number of bushes at her own home on Charnwood St.
That home site, along with several other gardens on Lindsey Lane, soon became springtime showplaces with their colorful azalea blooms, and Tylerites began buying the plants by the thousands. Some of the thick, towering azaleas at older homes on the Trail date back to the ‘30’s and ‘40’s.
By 1960, the blooming azaleas were attracting much attention, and that year the Chamber of Commerce established a marked route. The first Trail featured about 60 homes on a five-mile route.
The Trail was an instant success. Within two years it had expanded to 75 homes and was attracting 15,000 visitors. By 1964, 25,000 people a year were coming to see the azaleas. In 1986, it expanded to two miles and as of 2004; the Azalea Trail stretches eight miles and attracts over 100,000 visitors to Tyler.
The homeowners make the Trail the success it is. They regularly increase their azalea plantings and spend countless hours making sure their yards are spotless for the annual visitors.
The Trail has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines, including Southern Living and Texas Highways, drawing visitors from all over America.