(KXAS) - As the 50th anniversary of the President John F. Kennedy assassination approaches, the Dallas Morning News has uncovered never-before seen pictures of him during a happier visit to North Texas.
Kennedy and his then-running mate, Lyndon B. Johnson, made a two-day campaign stop in North Texas in September 1960, three years before the president was assassinated in Dallas. The Dallas Morning News is sharing the photos exclusively with NBC 5.
For 53 years, a treasure chest of more than 300 negatives of the forgotten motorcade sat unopened in the archives of the Dallas Morning News.
"These are unseen photos; Kennedy in Grand Prairie," said Jerome Sims, Dallas Morning News photo librarian.
He found them when a staff writer looking for material to use for coverage of the assassination anniversary asked for JFK photos.
"I went back here to my Kennedy Collection, which includes hard copy photos, then the negatives -- which I assumed were negatives of these photos, but no," Sims said.
Alan Peppard, the staff writer who had inquired about the photos, immediately knew they were of JFK and LBJ's campaign stop.
"Yes, not only was he here in 1960, he came almost the exact motorcade route of the assassination, just backwards -- through Dealey Plaza eastbound, up Main Street eastbound, instead of westbound," Peppard said.
The photographs are stunning -- a smiling Kennedy and Johnson.
"It just shows you what would have been had Lee Harvey Oswald decided to live someplace else," Peppard said.
JFK's visit started at Meacham Field in Fort Worth. The motorcade made its way through downtown Fort Worth -- the courthouse can be seen in the distance. There was a speech in Burnett Park in Fort Worth, and then Kennedy moved on to Arlington.
"You've got Arlington State Bank, and I love this man running out and, I assume, this is his daughter. Daddy's running to shake JFK's hand," Peppard said.
There is a picture of Kennedy's motorcade entering Grand Prairie. A woman can be seen approaching Kennedy for a souvenir.
"And you can see her friends saying, 'This is embarrassing,'" Peppard said.
There was a speech at the Chance Vought Aircraft factory, and the last stop was Dallas.
"See them turning the corner here -- that's the Adolphus; that's the Baker," Peppard said.
Kennedy spoke at Memorial auditorium, introduced by then-Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn.
NBC 5 owns footage of Kennedy's speech. The Dallas Morning News paired up the audio from the JFK library.
The forgotten motorcade of 1960 ends differently than the tragic one three years later, with JFK's departure from Love Field.
"I think we are adding a significant piece to the canon of the Kennedy history, that's what I think this is," Peppard said.