Beaumont, Texas

Day 519

Day 519 Beaumont TX 7788_Fotor

     The birth of the modern oil industry began on August 28, 1859 at Titusville, Pennsylvania.

     So, why is it called a “barrel of oil”? I am not going to tell you.

     Tidbit of Information: Until 1880, the United States remained virtually the only source for crude and refined petroleum throughout the world. 

     Henry Millard was born around 1796 in Stillwater, New York. He was an American businessman. He founded the city of Beaumont, Texas, in 1835 and fought in the Battle of San Jacinto the following year in 1836 during the Texas Revolution. The town was named Beaumont after Jefferson Beaumont, the brother-in-law of Henry Millard (now that is not very romantic). The town was incorporated December  16, 1838.

    Oil was discovered at nearby Spindletop, in the southern portion of Beaumont, Texas on January 10, 1901. Spindletop became the first major oil field in America and one of the largest in American history. Spindletop was the largest gusher the world had seen and catapulted Beaumont into an oil-fueled boomtown.

     Ok, I will tell you: Wooden whiskey and wine barrels were readily available to transport crude oil when oil was first pumped from wells. Although oil is now transported by pipelines and tankers, a barrel, corresponding to 42 gallons, is still the standard measure.

     Beaumont is also home to the Disney fire hydrant. Why here, no one seems to know. The fire hydrant was dedicated on March 9, 1999 to promote the re-release of the animated 101 Dalmatians to the TV market. 

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     The hydrant stands 24 feet tall, weighs 4,500 pounds, and can blast 1,500 gallons of water a minute. 

Technical Stuff:

Waco Texas to Beaumont, Texas: 285.2 miles

6 hours 1 minute

10.8 MPG

Diesel: $2.50

Dr Pepper, Waco, Texas

Day 518

Day 518 Dr Pepper Waco TX 7699_Fotor

     Barbara wanted to visit Magnolia Market. Something to do with a TV show. It was in an old grain mill. Not impressed. 

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     I wanted to visit the Dr Pepper bottling plant and museum. You can see where our preferences lie.  

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     On Day 259 I told you Coca-Cola was invented in 1886, but Dr Pepper says they were invented a year earlier. December 1, 1885, was the first time Dr Pepper was served. It was formulated by Brooklyn-born pharmacist Charles Alderton in Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. 

     The drink was originally called a “Waco”. The owner of the drug store, Wade Morrison, named it Dr Pepper. The reason for that named has been lost to history. Notice, however, there is no period after Dr. (There is here, because it is the end of a sentence.)

     In the early days of the soft drink industry, the carbon dioxide gas used for making the “fizz” in the water was produced by pouring acid over marble dust (soda). Now, don’t you wish you didn’t know that? 

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     William Painter invented the bottle crown in 1892. He was a Baltimore machinist who also invented the cap (crown) puller and the machine to fill and cap the bottles. This made all bottles uniform, making the system a success.  

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     We attended a demonstration of smell and taste testing, which demonstrated without smell, you cannot taste. 

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Dinosaurs in Waco, Texas

Day 517

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     In 1978, two men were exploring a dry creek bed in Waco, Texas, looking for arrowheads, when they came across a bone sticking out of the ground. They took the bone to Baylor University here in Waco, where it was identified as a leg bone belonging to a Mammoth.

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     A mammoth is any species of the extinct pre-historic elephant, equipped with long, curved tusks and, in the northern species, a covering of long hair. They lived from 5 million to 2 million years ago in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.

Day 517 Dinosaurs Waco TX 7638_Fotor

     A team from the University began excavating the sight and found 23 mammoths, the largest nursery heard (adults and juveniles) in the United States. Some were removed for study. A dig shelter was constructed over the remaining. That structure ultimately became a permanent building opened to the public in 2009.

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The Texas Rangers, Waco, Texas

Day 516

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     The Texas Rangers were formed in the area now called Waco, Texas, in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin employed ten men to act as rangers to protect 600 to 700 settlers who arrived in Texas following the Mexican War of Independence.

     The land was Mexican, inhabited by Anglos, and controlled by Indians. Ultimately, the Rangers were responsible for nudging the Indians out. 

     The Texas Ranger museum, here in Waco, pays tribute to the Rangers, tracing their history and accomplishments (as well as their disgraces). It is well done. 

     Who was that masked man?Day 516 Texas Rangers Waco TX 7675_Fotor    

     He’s the Lone Ranger!.

     Yes, they had a room devoted to that hero of yesteryear. Although he was fiction, that masked man did a lot to promote the Texas Rangers. 

     Kemo Sabe was first introduced to the public on January 30, 1933 as a program on WXYZ radio broadcasting from Detroit, Michigan.  In the 1949-1957 TV series, he was portrayed by actor Clayton Moore. 

     See you later,  Hi-yo, Silver! Away!

Waco, Texas

Day 515

Day 515 Waco TX 7607_Fotor

     After setting up camp in Waco, Texas, Barbara thought she saw FBI agents surrounding the compound. 

     Finding a campground is a crapshoot. We choose a campground that is on our destination route and about 200 miles from our previous camp. At our last campground, in Abilene, Texas, we were right on Interstate 20, with loud traffic 24/7. I think we would be further from traffic on the median strip. 

     Today, we are camping on Lake Waco. This facility is run by Department of the Army’s Corps of Engineers. We are on a peninsula of the lake, with water on both sides. Being the end of the season, there are only a few other RV’s in the park.

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     With Barbara’s old age pass, we are paying the same for 3 nights here as we paid for 1 night in Abilene. 

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     The city of Waco was formed in 1849 after pushing out the Indians of the same name. 

Technical Stuff:

Abilene, Texas to Waco, Texas: 233.2 miles

4 hours 45 minutes

11.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.49

Abilene, Texas

Day 512

Day 512 Abilene TX 7602_Fotor

     Abilene Texas was established  by cattlemen as a stock shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1881. The city was named after Abilene, Kansas, the original endpoint for the Chisholm Trail. Those cattlemen weren’t very imaginative.

     This area of Texas was once inhabited by the Jumano Indians, who were pushed out by the more hostile Apache Indians, who were pushed out in 1724 by the even more hostile Comanche Indians.

     The Spanish had been in this area since 1530, looking for the 7 cities of gold, which, obviously, they did not find. In the early 1800’s the Spanish government encouraged non-Spanish settlers to come to this region to create a buffer against the constant Comanche raids. Early Texas organizers, like Stephen F. Austin, were given large land grants which they used to offer free land as an enticement for Americans from the east and European Immigrants to come settle.

     The area was vast and lacked an organized government, resulting in conflict between new settlers and people loyal to the Spanish government, in addition to the Indian conflict. To help protect the settlers, Stephen F. Austin formed the Texas Rangers. These conflicts ultimately let to the Texas war for independence from Mexico in 1836.

     We went to the Texas Frontier Museum were we were guided by holograms (called Spirit Guides) through the museum.

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     This Comanche Chief’s shield was found buried with him. It contains 3 women’s scalps. 

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     Do you recognize this stagecoach?

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     It was used in the movies Hombre, Three Amigos, The Cherokee Kid, and the TV show Little House on the Prairie.

     Times were tough then. When you finally came to a town, you might use their community toothbrush.

 Day 512 Abilene TX 7585_Fotor

Technical Stuff:

Lubbock, Texas to Abilene, Texas: 176.0 miles

3 hours 31 minutes

11.8 MPG (we are going south, so it is all downhill)

Diesel: $2.40

Windmill Museum, Lubbock, Texas

Day 511

     The West could not have been settled without windmills. They provided water for the frontier town, farms, and cattle ranches. Most train stops had a windmill to pump the water to towers that they needed for their boilers. The American Wind Power Center has on display these windmills from the last 200 years.

     If you remember day 181 we visited the Kregel Windmill Co. in Nebraska City, Nebraska. I was under the impression there were only a handful of Windmill production companies, but today I saw over 200 different brand windmills on display.

     Even Sears Roebuck & Co. sold their branded windmill through their catalog in 1896.

      On day 114, when we were in Holland, Michigan, we observed their grist windmill. The museum here had on display numerous millstones, including the stones used by the Hershey Chocolate Company in Pennsylvania, which they used to grind the coco beans into chocolate.

     We learned that mill stones work in pairs. The beadstone is stationary and the runner stone rotated above it, hung on a vertical spindle. The milling faces of the stones are given deep furrows and groves that help break up the grain. Over time, these furrows wore down with use and had to constantly be recut, a process known as “dressing the stone”. (Of course you realize that as the stone wears down, it gets mixed into the grain, which you then eat).

      This would be a bedstone. The iron band around the circumference prevents the stone from shattering in operation. 

     This stone was imported from England before the Revolution. It is a runner stone, which you can tell by the cutouts where the spindle from the shaft of the windmill would fit. 

     The museum also housed a huge train exhibit. Not only did the trains run on a platform that ran the entire length of the building, 

but they also ran along the side walls of the building on a double track support that is 13 feet above the floor.

     To get the trains to that height required a spiral helix. The trains run along a track that is set around a 15 foot spiral structure that makes 10 loops around to get to the inside wall.

     This modern windmill is actually in use providing all the power of the museum. 

     It is the Vestas Model V47, a wind machine for generating electricity. The machine generates 1 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year. The museum uses half that and sells the rest to the grid. It is 164 feet tall and weighs 97,000 pounds. Each fiberglass blade is 77 feet long. You can purchase one for just under a million dollars, volume discounts are available.