Heading North out of Austin on IH-35, past Waco, just past a fork in the highway leading to Fort Worth and Dallas, if you take the Dallas route you will see a sign that says 2 or 3 miles to Carl's Corner. Carl's Corner is a truck stop that is situated in a dry county. Carl wanted to serve hard drinks in his bar so he filed some paperwork with the state and declared his truck stop a city.
For motorists headed South past Carl's Corner, there are two billboards for Carl's. One is of a giant truck and trailer with the trucker in the cab waving. The other is a billboard of a man, presumably Carl or the observing motorist, in a reclining chair. A woman in a tight red miniskirt is bent over at the hips pulling the reclined Carl's cowboy boots off.
Carl's Corner is covered in a mural of giant images. Large animals are painted on display boards atop the buildings. The Corner is like an oasis, a watering hole in the vast (and boring) North Texas prairie and scrub. In the parking lot, the smell of marijuana wafts by with the dust turned up by eighteen wheelers.
Inside, there are several aisles for candy, chips, trucker supplies, and Carl's Corner T-shirts and hats. On the way to the lavatory can be found the trophy wall. The trophy wall has a couple of hundred news clipping from years back. The subject is the controversy surrounding Carl's Corner's city charter. But there is also another topic.
According to the news clippings, some years ago Carl's Corner burned down. It was a catastrophic event for the truck stop; Carl didn't have the money to rebuild his business. Fortunately the Corner had by that time established itself in the trucker community. Thousands of truckers passing through every week had come to rely on Carl's Corner as a haven, a place they could pull their boots off and wet their whistles. The Corner was to North Texas what Kansas City was to the Midwest in the early cattle- and booze-moving days of the early 20th century. What with the North American Free Trade Agreement, Carl's Corner is a necessary hub upon which the backbone of the American economy rests today.
All that served to draw attention to the catastrophe. So how did Carl's Corner get rebuilt? The answer is that truckers weren't the only people relying on the Corner for a rest. Apparently Willie Nelson, the folk country music icon of Texas, had frequented Carl's Corner for years. Willie and Carl were actually great friends, so Willie did for Carl what any great musician would do for a friend in need. He held a benefit concert.
It was thanks to this benefit concert held by Willie Nelson on the shores of the nearby Lake Whitney, that Carl's Corner stands today.